Conductor Richard Kaufman

Review: Symphonic Oscars | Dallas Symphony Orchestra | Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center

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The Dallas Symphony's Pops season closes with a tribute to Oscar-winning film music, from Jaws to Romeo and Juliet.

published Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Photo: Paramount Pictures
Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet


Dallas — Pops concerts that showcase film music are consistently popular, as evidenced by the large crowds the Dallas Symphony Orchestra pulls for their periodic movie music programs. This season’s offering was an homage to Oscar-winning films. Conductor Richard Kaufman’s brief, engaging, and well-prepared remarks offered a few facts about each film. Funnily enough, many audience members applauded when he mentioned the names of favorite actors, so perhaps many attendees were film aficionados, indeed.

Photo: Kevin McIntyre
Conductor Richard Kaufman

Programming was a curious mix. It included a few stalwarts: the usual John Williams numbers (this time, Jaws, Superman, and a set of themes from Star Wars: The Force Awakens), some Danny Elfman offerings from Batman, and a set of Henry Mancini tunes from films featuring Audrey Hepburn. Alexander Courage’s theme from Star Trek seems like a good choice, but picking an audience member to read the title sequence text (“Space, the final frontier” and all that) is a crapshoot at best. Saturday’s choice didn’t quite have the gravitas of Shatner’s circa-1966 tones, but the audience loved it.

In contrast, though, the programming included some distinctly questionable choices. Themes from Zeffirelli’s 1968 Romeo and Juliet, from Young Sherlock Holmes, and from the Steve Martin remake of Father of the Bride were performed in sequence. None of them was familiar to many audience members, which for this kind of concert, is not an asset. Additionally, the music itself struck me as not especially inspired. It probably works fine as background music in the film, but not as stand-alone concert programming.

It was well that the main theme and “Shark Cage Fugue” from Jaws followed these rather soporific selections. The audience was no doubt thoroughly awake after that famous two-note theme, played with anxiety-inducing ferocity by the DSO’s redoubtable bass section.

Similarly, the second half of the program began with the rather dull “Tara” from Gone with the Wind, and perhaps most quirkily, the theme music from Harry and the Hendersons. Following up with themes from Batman, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Star Trek, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens kept audiences engaged for the remainder of the rather long program.

The encore, before which a sizable number of patrons had already exited the Meyerson (including me—I had to dash back in to have a listen), was John Williams’ "March" from 1941. Thanks For Reading

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The Dallas Symphony's Pops season closes with a tribute to Oscar-winning film music, from Jaws to Romeo and Juliet.
by J. Robin Coffelt

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