For classical music skeptics I would like to say this: I was surprised by how much fun I had on Saturday night at the Heroes and Villains concert at the Regina Symphony. Now perhaps this is because I am a bit of a nerd and the combination of two of my favourite things, music and film, was cause for a level of enjoyment I would not have been able to muster had I the best seats, free tickets and perfect weather at the Rider’s game being played at the same time. That’s just me. But I brought my boyfriend along and he would be just as inclined to go to a football game as the Symphony. When I asked him his impression of the night, he said he really enjoyed it and asked me at one point during the night why we didn’t do this more often.
The night began with the Superman theme, an instantly recognizable piece that was executed brilliantly. The whole programme’s delivery was refined and livid, the orchestral so well rehearsed, surmounting often very difficult scores. (We were told the Robin Hood Suite was the most demanding. To my untrained ears it appeared flawless). Musical Director and Conductor Victor Sawa’s ability to keep the night highly engaging in between the pieces added to it being so entertaining, as was several of the musicians dressed up in character. It felt like Halloween again with Frankenstein, Darth Vader, the Dark Knight and a few merry men throughout the orchestra’s black and white. The programme continued with The Bride of Frankenstein and Gladiator themes and ended the first half with Liszt’s Les Preludes, which was used in the highly successful Flash Gordon series in the 1930’s.
Stripping the music of it’s visual accompaniment, it became the primary focus of attention. The hero (or villain) was still there, as was the action, but by taking away the more obvious component to a film, the music was revealed in a complexity and depth not present when we watch a film. The music tells us to hold our breath or let out a sigh of relief, but only in respect to what is happening before our eyes. It’s as though the visuals disguise the scope of the score because the music is doing its job so well. By experiencing the music alone, It felt like I was shown parts of a movie that I had missed.
Without the mise en scene, the music of a film appears as emotion without a face, atmosphere without a landscape. In this way it doesn’t belong to any one particular scene, story or character, but stands on it’s own. This can be said for Les Preludes, which was not written for film, but 80 years prior to it’s use in the 1930’s series. However once coupled with a movie and characters, it becomes inseparable from that identity. Of course some of the scores were written for film, such as the The Dark Knight and Gladiator themes by the prolific Hans Zimmer, and I guess these resonated the clearest for me in capturing the essence of the hero’s and villains.With a real life, suited up Darth Vader look alike playing in musical form the character’s persona, it was impossible to separate the music from the menace.
The theme song of the Man of La Mancha was unfamiliar to me prior to this evening. Based on the classic novel Don Quixote, I was introduced to a new film through the music (the score itself was a lot of fun), and I was intrigued. The whole night was, for the non- classical music connoisseur, just that I think: an introduction to not only the art, skill and complexities of classical music but to how absorbing and fun it can be. I left wanting more.