Call me Russ L

Shipwrecked and comatose

Posted in Music by Russ L on 8 July, 2006

Writing one day short of being a calendar month late, I went with the parentals to Symphony Hall on the 9th Of June to see the CBSO and ‘Sci-Fi Symphony’. First we encountered The Steve Ajao Quartet playing in the foyer, as part of the free ‘Rush Hour Blues’ doings ever Friday (wherein a jazz ensemble plays a free gig in the ICC for the duration of the going-home traffic being heavy. A very good idea, and something I’m sure I’d take advantage of if I worked in Birmingham). I wasn’t especially impressed with this lot, though, having as they did that stereotypical ‘technique but not a fat lot else’ feel. Yawn. I’ve said this elsewhere, but I wouldn’t assume that a skilled plasterer would necessarily design beautiful architecture and I don’t think many others would either. Why music is seen to be the exception when it comes to craftsmanship equating to art and entertainment is beyond me.

Off we went into the Symphony hall for the point of the evening – the CBSO, conducted by Carl Davis and his spectacular coats, and playing various pieces that have been used in science fiction films and television programmes. Quite nerdy, yes, but so much fun.

There was an interesting selection, with both pieces that have existed for long enough and had been picked for use (including some I already adored – Straus’ “Also Sprach Zarathastra,” and both “Jupiter” and “Mars” from Holst’s planet suite) and bits composed specifically for the films. Who’d have thought that the likes of John Williams’ “Superman” and “Throne Room & Finale” (from ‘Star Wars’) would sound so stirring when divorced from context?

It wasn’t an entirely serious affair, of course. Having the audience chant ‘Five… Four… Three… Two… One… Thunderbirds are go!” at the beginning of Gray’s “Thunderbirds March” was fun, as was Howard Goodall’s Red Dwarf suite (I was expecting just the piece at the beginning of series one and two, but it progressed onto the main theme music and various other bits. I nearly burst into laughter when I heard “Tongue Tied”); but an unannounced encore and reprise of “Ghostbusters” (not quite sci-fi anymore, but it was just an encore) with Mr Davis shouting out “Who ya gonna call?” (and, even better, “I ain’t afraid-a no ghost!”) and the audience responding “GHOSTBUSTERS!” was hilarious.

So, yes, I can now say I’ve sung along with the CBSO. I couldn’t before.

~ Russ L, who ain’t afraid-a no double negation.

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