ORLANDO — The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra closed its season on Saturday with two performances that celebrated a unique form of music: the soundtracks for films and television shows devoted to science fiction.
In doing so, conductor Jack Everly also had an opportunity to celebrate the music of a cinematic legend, the composer whose scores have included films like “Star Wars,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “E.T. The Extra Terrestrial” and “Superman.”
It was a delight, Everly said, to have an opportunity to highlight scores “by the very great John Williams. John truly has become an icon among composers. He just happened to be in Hollywood at the right time.”
The Orlando Philharmonic closed out its 2016/2017 Super Series Program 10 with “The Final Frontier,” a fond look back at how composers like Williams have had an enormous impact on science fiction cinema by creating such memorable scores for these films. They opened with Williams’ main title from “Star Wars,” while also performing music from his soundtracks for “E.T.,” “Superman,” “Close Encounters,” “Star Wars: Phantom Menace” and the end title to the original 1977 Star Wars film.
“Needless to say, he is beloved and has given us an amazing legacy or orchestral music,” Everly said of Williams.
The performance, which attracted a sold-out crowd at the Bob Carr Theater, which set up several exhibits in the main lobby featuring some of the unique costumes from the Star Wars and Star Trek series.
“We’re so delighted to have you here today,” said Christopher Barton, the executive director of the Orlando Philharmonic, moments before the concert began. “This is our last day at the Bob Carr for a few months, and then we’ll be back in September.”
The concert included a special appearance by actor Jonathan Frakes, who portrayed Commander William T. Riker in the television series “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Frakes performed the opening lines from the theme to the original 1960s “Star Trek” show (“Space … the final frontier …”) and the dialogue that actor Michael Rennie spoke as he portrayed the alien Klaatu in the 1951 movie “The Day The Earth Stood Still,” as the OPO performed the score to that movie by Hollywood legend Bernard Herrmann.
Other movie scores performed by the OPO included John Barry’s theme to the 1980 movie “Somewhere In Time,” and a salute to the theme songs from various science fiction TV shows, including “Lost In Space,” “The X-Files,” and even “The Jetsons.”
“Welcome to a galaxy far, far away,” Everly said at the start of the concert. “We’re celebrating two genres today — storytelling in another world, and the great music that goes with it.”
Everly noted that from the very beginning of cinema, when movies were silent, there was always music accompanying the images.
“Silent films always had music there to enhance the films,” he said, while adding that Hollywood composer Max Steiner set the trend in 1933 by composing the score to one of the earliest and most enduring science fiction films, “King Kong.”
“Hollywood has always been on the screen with everything science fiction, and television as well,” he said. “I put together a few of these themes. We call this medley ‘Lost in Syndication.’ ”
The concert also employed the vocal talents of soprano Kristen Plumley and the University of Central Florida Chamber Singers.
“This is the final concert in the series, and we’re delighted we’re with you,” Everly said as the concert was closing. “Aren’t you lucky to have this treasure here in your community called the Orlando Philharmonic?”
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Koby’s New Home”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com.