Fort Worth — The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra brought an engrossing cavalcade of science fiction movie themes accompanied by a state-of-the-art laser light show. The sounds and sights were a feast for the senses.
Miguel Harth-Bedoya, in one of his last Concerts in the Gardens as FWSO Music Director, launched the proceedings with the opening fanfare to Thus Spake Zarathustra by Richard Strauss an off-program selection appropriate to the evening’s theme. One of the most recognizable orchestral snippets because of its ubiquitousness in popular media. First co-opted in 1968 to close Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi movie masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey, here used to begin a symphonic concert of cinematic space battles.
The FWSO was in fine form and the amplification clear. A big night for the timpani to be sure but the clarinets shone on several occasions. The strings washed away the summer humidity as the French horns commanded every leap.
Gustav Holst’s “Mars, the Bringer of War” from The Planets paired perfectly with Strauss as the great-grandparent progenitors of music for space films to come. As the art of filmmaking began these two late romantic and early modern works, respectively, outlined the galaxy for the next era of cosmic composers.
Time warp to the next millennium for a selection of Hollywood’s more recent maestros. Those gifted go-to soundtrack sculptors that have sonically dramatized the silver screen’s space operas and comic book epics. Like Michael Giacchino, who showed his versatility in the music of The Incredibles and Star Trek (2009 Movie). Rupert Gregson-Williams, whose magnetic heart strings honored Wonder Woman to its surprising and deserved acclaim. Alan Silvestri’s theme from The Avengers instantly drew cheers from fan boys in the audience.
These composers know how to get inside the heart, head and gut while not getting too artsy. Like their successful art designer and cinematographer contemporaries they are comfortable with the concession-counter salt, fat and sugar of edgy, sexy, broad brushstrokes.
Speaking of exciting and seductive brushstrokes, the laser light show above head, choreographed to the music, is an experience witnessed to be believed. This is sure-fire family fun.
And then there’s John Williams. His pervasive accomplishments will outlast any printed praise. No other composer today is so immune to hyperbole. A franchise unto himself, his music for Star Wars rounded out the last half of the concert with the eternally recognizable leit motifs (“The Imperial March” and “Main Title”). Fireworks backing up “Throne Room” and “End Title” were thrilling. 40 years after Episode IV: A New Hope, 48-year-olds felt 8 again and, as it was in Fort Worth’s Botanic Gardens Friday night, 8-year-olds playing lightsabers became Jedi.