The effervescent and enlightening conductor Jack Everly opened the Fort Worth Symphony’s “Sci-Fi Spectacular” pops concert on Friday evening by posing a two-part postulate.
One is that our fascination with sci-fi comes from our obsession with the question “What if?” And the other is that most sci-fi movies involve an alien coming to earth (or its stand-in) — some cuddly and others creepy.
The music on the program certainly bore that out.
Of course, any such program contains a plethora of John Williams’ music, a composer who completely changed how movie music is written. Using his masterful command of orchestration and compositional technique, his scores are an outgrowth of the works of Richard Strauss.
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From Williams, we heard music from a number of incarnations of Star Wars, and also E.T., Superman and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. A star of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Jonathan Frakes (Cmdr. William Riker), made a guest appearance to the delight of the audience.
The orchestra played Williams’ difficult scores magnificently. The jazzy stage band music for the bar scene in the original Star Wars received a sparkling performance from the wind section.
One of the most fascinating selections came in a medley of theme songs from TV sci-fi masterpieces. We heard the sweeping theme from TV’s 1966 Star Trek, by Alexander Courage, sung by soprano guest artist Kristen Plumley.
Michael Giacchino’s score for the 2009 Star Trek film is completely different from Williams’ take but just as effective. The romantic selection from John Barry’s Somewhere in Time was appropriately named. The opening of Richard Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra, used to such dramatic effect in 2001: A Space Odyssey, is always a crowd-pleaser (you should check out the rest of the piece).
Bernard Hermann’s 1951 score for The Day the Earth Stood Still is a masterpiece of suspense. His musical style, at least for this score, predates the minimalist movement of the likes of Philip Glass. From that movie, the alien Klatu (played by Michael Rennie) delivers a solemn warning to earth to mend its aggressive ways or face destruction.
The mood lightened considerably with Plumley singing When You Wish Upon a Star from the sort-of sci-fi Pinocchio by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington promising that “your dreams come true.”
FWSO Sci-fi Spectacular
7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday