Conductor Alejandro Gómez Guillén

Review: Concerts in the Garden 2018: Star Wars and Beyond | Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra | Fort Worth Botanic Garden

A Galaxy Very Close

The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra proved the popularity of its weekend long spectacle of lights and sound.

published Saturday, June 16, 2018

Photo: FWSO
Conductor Alejandro Gómez Guillén

Fort Worth — Living on the western side of North Texas means you take so much pride in certain things there’s no need to brag. A world class museum district, thriving economy and margaritas at Joe T. Garcia’s make it that much easier to be glad we’re not Dallas. Our tradition of sweating to symphonic sounds every summer at Concerts in the Garden make even the most sweltering evenings bearable past the point of satisfied tolerance. Friday night was no exception. Music from Disney films and the Star Wars franchise played by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra under the baton of new associate conductor Alejandro Gómez Guillén gave the audience lying on blankets near the Trinity River’s elevated branch yet another thing of which to be proud.

The sunlit portion of the program featured music from many beloved animated classics. The bouncy “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” and “It’s a Small World After All” seemed to lift the humidity. Selections from Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and The Lion King encouraged a casual game of name that tune.

The orchestra, evenly amplified across sections, soared comfortably under the new maestro’s youthful and elegant direction. Guillén knew how to give them what they needed and when to let them play.

Name-dropping the characters’ songs became a parade of princesses from Belle, Jasmine, Ariel, Elsa and Anna to Leia and Rey. After the sun set and the sky turned to the dark side, music came from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Themes from the famous space opera were accompanied by an impressive display of lasers shone on a haze of vapor hanging above head. Synchronized with the score, the dazzling colors gave an effect in turns of looking from underneath at waves of bioluminescent plankton to encompassing rainbow-colored tendrils of a gigantic screen saver. Think John Williams at a Grateful Dead concert. This technicolor view from inside a kaleidoscope paired nicely with the music of probably the most widely heard composer in history. Looking past the omission of Darth Vader’s Imperial March, other leitmotifs were recognizable like the preciously played Princess Leia’s theme. When lesser known portions of the cinematic soundtrack came they sounded like Bernard Hermann’s love letter to Prokofiev. The grandly cadential orchestra-wide, rest-syncopated triplets brought equal amounts of applauded appreciation from our cultured and humble citizenry as did the tender, quiet adagio phrases.

Questions came to mind like, how much does John Williams love the score of Lawrence of Arabia? And, how much does John Williams love writing for harps, flutes and French horns? And, how much does our brass section love this new conductor? The answer to all three, apparently: quite a lot. Only the woodwinds were more confident, like graceful west-of-Arlington mockingbirds.

A scrim above the symphony held the projections of beautiful designs throughout and of course the iconic opening crawl plus advertisers’ logos. Fireworks bursting behind the stage while “The Throne Room” from Episode 4 A New Hope played recalled an exploding Death Star.

Though our dear FWSO has endured recent struggles, a successful Father’s Day weekend of music and lights might inspire a new Yoda-like aphorism, “Music is the path to the solvent side. Music leads to joy; joy leads to love; love leads to profitability.” Don’t miss your chance to bask in our pride and joy. Thanks to CITG and FWSO for “A New Hope.”

This concert continues on Saturday and Sunday.


The remaining Concerts in the Garden schedule is:


June 15-17

Star Wars and Beyond

A Laser Light Spectacular

Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra

Alejandro Gómez Guillén, Conductor


June 22

The Music of The Rolling Stones

Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra

Brent Havens, Conductor

Brody Dolyniuk, Vocalist


June 23

The Music of Journey

Brody Dolyniuk, Vocalist


June 24

Old 97's


June 29

1950s Dance Party

John Mueller's Official Tribute to Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens

Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra

Ron Spigelman, Conductor


June 30

Hotel California

"A Salute to The Eagles"

Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra

Ron Spigelman, Conductor


July 2-4

Old-Fashioned Family Fireworks Picnic

Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra

Alejandro Gómez Guillén, Conductor

Cecilia Duarte, Mezzo Soprano Thanks For Reading

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A Galaxy Very Close
The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra proved the popularity of its weekend long spectacle of lights and sound.
by Rob Laney

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