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CONCERT: Star Wars (Oslo, November 15th & 16th)


Biodome
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I've just returned from a spectacular concert that was stunning both musically and visually, so I thought I should write a short overview of what was going on there in the Oslo Konserthus. I am pretty sure there are more John Williams fans in Norway, so if you've been to the concert as well, you're very welcome to contribute your thoughts and correct any mistakes that I may have made (I didn't take any notes, and I am writing this from memory, so there is no guarantee that I won't mix up anything :D)

I try to never miss any performances of John Williams' scores in my area, even if it's some local amateur orchestra, so when it was announced earlier this year that the world-class Oslo Philharmonic was going to perform music from Star Wars, I simply had no excuses not to grab the tickets asap (and the tickets for both performances sold out in a relatively short time - the whole concert hall was completely full of people of all ages). The orchestra was conducted by the renowned American composer & conductor Lucas Richman. The theme of the whole concert was "using music to tell a story", so Richman did his best to explain bits of the Star Wars story behind every piece, mentioning important characters and events within that universe.

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The first part of the concert revolved around the Prequels:

1. Main Title

2. Duel of the Fates (instrumental)

3. Anakin's Theme
4. The Flag Parade

5. The Adventures of Jar Jar

6. Across the Stars

7. Battle of the Heroes (instrumental)

8. The Imperial March

 

I've actually never heard a Prequel piece performed live before, so it was really amazing to hear those for the first time non-digitally. There were no vocals during the concert, so the orchestra had to substitute the choir parts by tweaking the orchestration. I suppose the absence of a choir did remove the original oomph out of Duel of the Fates and Battle of the Heroes, but the orchestra did perform those parts really well.

The Imperial March was, obviously, a crowd-pleaser, and the concert organizers took full advantage of the lighting available to turn the whole hall red, and invited many cosplayers to provide a real presence of the Empire. The costumes were really well made and realistic, so I assumed there might have been members of the Nordic Garrison involved, which is a branch of the 501st Legion here in Scandinavia, but I am not really sure, and there weren't any details provided about who those people really were. Here's a shot of the whole thing (note the ominous Darth Vader in the back):

 

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After a short break, the orchestra returned for the second part, where the classic pieces from the Original Trilogy were presented, with the addition of Rey's Theme:

 

1. The Asteroid Field

2. Rey's Theme

3. Princess Leia's Theme

4. Cantina Band

5. Yoda's Theme

6. Here They Come

7. Luke and Leia

8. The Forest Battle

9. Throne Room and Finale

 

Personally, I was dying to hear some of these live :D I loved all of it, and the only criticism I could possibly give would go towards the performance of Cantina Band, as I thought that the instrument balance sounded somewhat off. The woodwinds were drowned by the percussion, and the melody wasn't as clear as I'd have liked. I guess this would always be a problem in a concert hall environment, as these are inherently quieter instruments, as opposed to a studio environment, where the volumes can be tweaked much more. Nevertheless, the technique of the musicians was shining during the whole concert, including the very delicate parts of the score, and it was all really spectacular to hear.

 

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The conductor returned for an encore with the reprise of The Imperial March, this time with even more Imperial cosplay:

 

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The crowd was ecstatic, and the standing ovations continued for 5 minutes if not more. It would have been nice with a few more pieces, but the concert had already gone beyond the official 1hr 45min mark, so I suppose they didn't have time for more.

As far as I am concerned, I wouldn't hesitate to call this my favorite performance of John Williams' music. My previous favorite was the RSNO concert earlier this year, and I've been to a few more performances, although the orchestras there were less known.

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12 hours ago, Biodome said:

I've just returned from a spectacular concert that was stunning both musically and visually, so I thought I should write a short overview of what was going on there in the Oslo Konserthus. I am pretty sure there are more John Williams fans in Norway,

 

Well, I can think of one. ;) Good to see another Norwegian in here.

 

I'm going to this concert tonight.

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25 minutes ago, Thor said:

 

Well, I can think of one. ;) Good to see another Norwegian in here.

 

I'm going to this concert tonight.

I am not Norwegian myself, just been living here for some time. Have fun at the concert tonight, though!

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I'll just echo your sentiment. Alas, I was seated BEHIND the orchestra, and just behind the cymbals to boot. That's NOT good for my tinnitus (which has actually doubled in the last couple of months). But thankfully, I brought earplugs that I put in gently to mask the worst frequencies.

 

All the "big hits" I've heard a thousand times before, but I loved the prequel bits, in particular (I don't think I've heard concert performances of "Jar Jar's Adventures" and "Battle of the Heroes" before). The cantina band number was cool, with heavy emphasis on steel bowls.

 

I'm really impressed by how "tight" the Oslo Philharmonic has become in terms of film music.

 

Let me know if you're in Oslo some time, and we'll grab a beer! We Norwegian-set Williams fans need to stick together. :)

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I'm glad you've enjoyed it!

 

12 hours ago, Thor said:

Let me know if you're in Oslo some time, and we'll grab a beer! We Norwegian-set Williams fans need to stick together. :)

We can definitely do that some time - I do frequent Oslo, especially during weekends. Perhaps it's even possible to find some more Williams fans and do a proper meetup :D With a full concert hall like that there's bound to be at least some enthusiasts of those scores.

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Oh, I know several Williams (and film music) fans in Norway, although they're spread out a bit all over the place. But I know at least one who lives in Oslo who could meet up for this at some point. Like me, he's even a completist!

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Completist in the sense that you have all of the album releases? That's quite a feat :D I myself have a looong way to go - still haven't touched some of the scores at all.

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19 hours ago, Biodome said:

Completist in the sense that you have all of the album releases? That's quite a feat :D I myself have a looong way to go - still haven't touched some of the scores at all.

 

Yes, I have everything (except most expansions, which aren't my cup of tea), and I've seen every film he's ever scored. And I have every concert work he's ever done, except 3-4 that have never seen the light of day. But it's taken me 25 years! :) And I still have a long way to go too -- especially in terms of the obscure TV stuff (where I've only charted/listened to/seen about 40%).

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