Dallas — Jeff Tyzik could use some new material. The Dallas Symphony’s Principal Pops Conductor directs a sci-fi themed movie and TV music program nearly every year in the Meyerson and has conducted similar programs during the DSO’s residency at the Bravo! Vail Festival. The concerts themselves are usually near sellouts, including the performances on the weekend of June 14, titled Star Trek and Beyond.
The programs tend to feature similar music each go-round—Star Wars, Star Trek, Jurassic Park, and Alien make frequent appearances, as do classical pieces that either appeared in films or will be familiar to listeners. That’s not necessarily a problem. As I say, these concerts fill the halls. But I can’t be the only audience member who has heard the same patter, the same stories and jokes from the stage, two or three or more times now. Keep the music; change the narrative.
Uncharacteristically, the Lay Family Concert Organ and organist Bradley Hunter Welch had a prominent role in these concerts. Performing on Holst’s “Mars” from The Planets, the opening to Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra, and a selection of film music, Welch excelled, as usual, and allowed the Pops series audience to hear the Meyerson’s outstanding instrument.
And it’s not as if Tyzik introduced no variety. As he often does, he performed pieces not on the program, deleted others, and moved yet others around. But really, despite the suggestion of the title, not much of the music was from Star Trek—considerably more, six pieces in all, were from the pen of John Williams, including music from three of the Star Wars movies, Jurassic Park, E.T.: The Extraterrestrial, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. With the exception of the selection from E.T., which dragged on a bit, this music was well-chosen, well-paced, and, as one expects from the DSO, well-performed.
Perhaps the most interesting selections on the program were three movements from English composer Arthur Bliss’ Suite from the 1936 film Things to Come. This was music unfamiliar to almost everyone in the audience—when Tyzik asked who had seen the movie, I saw a lone hand ascend. And this, truly, is Tyzik’s cleverness. He’s like a parent getting kids to eat their veggies—he starts and ends with the familiar, the chicken nuggets and ice cream, the stuff everyone likes. In the middle, he slips in just a few bites of broccoli, and maybe lots of audience members will discover that, actually, they really like broccoli—or Arthur Bliss.