BWW Review: STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE: IN CONCERT at Des Moines Symphony: A Galaxy Far, Far Away comes to Iowa!
Over the last few years, the Des Moines Symphony has done an amazing job of starting and growing a pops series. About a year and a half ago, the brought in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: In Concert. It was originally slated for two evening performances and had to be extended to a third performance as a matinee. This year they continued by bringing "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" in January and have added "Star Wars A New Hope: In Concert" to their growing list of films in concert. With "Star Wars" they again started with two performances and due to popularity had to have a third performance matinee. I attended the matinee performance on June 6 and found myself having just as much fun as I did with the "Harry Potter" concert.
I would normally go into the short plot synopsis if I was reviewing a show, but as well known as "Star Wars" is, a synopsis doesn't seem to be necessary. If you've never been to a movie let me give you a taste of what the performance is like. When you walk into the auditorium, you see a giant screen above with the logo of the movie you are about to watch. Before the movie starts, you go through the typical fanfare that you expect from a symphony concert. The orchestra tunes and the conductor comes out. This is where it changes from a typical symphony concert. As the movie gets ready to start the lights go down over the orchestra. The only light left are lights on the stands allowing the musicians to see what they are playing. As you watch the movie, the orchestra plays everything that you would hear as music in the movie.
One of the highlights of the performance came as the movie was started. There is something special about getting to hear the Fox Fanfare performed by a live symphony. Listening to the fanfare, I can't help but think of how iconic it has become. It got a huge applause from the audience. From that moment on the applause stopped until we got to the intermission and then again at the close of the movie. This shows how engrossed the audience was with the movie, as well as the music being played. The only time I was surprised that there wasn't applause was during the opening to "Star Wars." The music is also iconic, and when I've gone to opening night screenings of "Star Wars" films, it always seems to have people cheering.
The music provided by the symphony was done beautifully and flawlessly. The reason that I say the music was done flawlessly, is there were times watching the movie that I completely forgot the symphony was playing beneath it. The times I did notice, was when I once and a while caught the movement of the symphony playing music from time to time. The beauty of the music came from the interpretation that was brought to the symphony by guest conductor Ernest Richardson. He truly understood the music and how it needed to be done to recreate the experience that you get when hearing the movie at the movie theatre. He allows the music to sell at moments that it is expected to. While I'm sure there are some artistic choices he made in how he conducted the music, they are done in ways that don't distract from the movie or the overall experience.
If you have not made it to "Star Wars A New Hope: In Concert," you have one more chance tonight at 7:30 PM. If you were not able to make it to this movie live, then you don't have to go to a galaxy far, far away.... The symphony has additional film concerts coming up, as well as a concert featuring all John Williams music. For more information about the Des Moines Symphony, visit.
Upcoming Film Music events
Water Works Pops Series
A John Williams Spectacular
Sunday, July 28, 2019, 7:30 PM
Home Alone: In Concert
November 30-31 2019
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: In Concert
February 21-22, 2020