Friday, April 1, 2016

Star Trek Concert!

It is no secret that I'm a huge Star Trek fan. I'm also a big fan of movie and TV music and I have a large soundtrack collection. So it shouldn't be a big surprise that I was interested in attending the Star Trek 50th Anniversary Concert Tour which played in San Diego last night.
Overall, the experience was a lot of fun. The tour has a live symphony orchestra in front of a 40-foot projection screen which was showing clips from the TV shows and movies along with occasional narration by Michael Dorn ("Warf" from TNG).
It is likely that my expectations were different from the average concert goer. I was there to hear and see the orchestra. This was often difficult to do as there was sound to go along with the projection and at times it overwhelmed the orchestra. There was also a loud reverberation at times which was very annoying. However, the clips projected were mostly a lot of fun, though I was surprised that they re-used a few of them. We only needed to hear Kirk's "Risk Speech" once. The video also didn't give the audience much of a chance to applaud for the orchestra, as sometimes they would be starting another clip right at the end of some music when I felt it was time to give the orchestra some applause.

The orchestra was surprisingly hard to see. The shot above shows the stage (before the show). There were various set pieces to give it sort of a Star Trek feel, that mostly hid the orchestra from view. Often there was little or no lighting on the orchestra, so they were hard to see.

The best time to see the orchestra was after intermission when Trek composer Ron Jones was guest conducting the Enter'acte. There was no video as Jones was conducting and the orchestra was nicely illuminated. Composer Jay Chattaway was also on hand to guest conduct his wonderful Orchestral Suite from The Inner Light, which is perhaps the most famous and beloved music from all of the TNG franchise. The Orchestra really hit the mark for this piece, but the video presentation was very distracting from here and it felt somewhat rude to be playing dialog and sound effects over this while the composer was conducting his own work. Yes, I realize that this is the fate of music composed for TV and film, but I was hoping to hear this piece in particular on its own.
Thankfully, a lot of music composed for Star Trek has been released on CD, so that film score fans like me can listen to it on its own. Yes, the CDs above are my Star Trek music collection.
Speaking of CDs, there's one available from this tour too. The two disc-set was available at the concert hall and is online. I picked one up at the show, but haven't had a chance to listen yet. There are extensive liner notes, which I'm looking forward to reading. I should note that the conductor for the CD is different from Nicholas Buc, the conductor who is out on the tour.

As for the music in the concert, the show pretty much hit all the highlights with the major pieces by composers Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner, Dennis McCarthy and others being represented. I was especially happy to hear some of Sol Kaplan's music from TOS episode The Doomsday Machine, Jerry Goldsmith's Ilia's Theme from TPM, and Michael Giacchino's Enterprising Young Men from the 2009 Trek movie. 
Conductor Nicholas Buc, along with composers Ron Jones and Jay Chattaway (center stage) get a standing ovation at the end of last night's show. 

All-in-all it was a fun show. If you are a music purist then you might get annoyed at some of the other elements of the show, but if you want a fun evening of Star Trek, then take a look to see if this 100-city tour will be near you before the North American tour is done in early May.

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