Adrian Symphony Orchestra will visit a galaxy far, far away


ADRIAN – Name a few particularly well-known film scores of the past half-century, and chances are they were written by John Williams.

After all, the list of Williams film scores includes those of “Jaws”, “ET”, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, “Superman”, “Jurassic Park”, Indiana Jones films, most of the Harry Potter canon, and a whole host of other blockbuster films.

And, oh yes, then there’s his music for the “Star Wars” franchise.

The latter is the focus of this year’s Adrian Symphony Orchestra pop concert, which will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday, February 18 at Adrian College’s Dawson Auditorium.

Tickets are $32, $29 and $21 for adults; $30, $27 and $21 for seniors; and $18 and $15 for students. They are available at adriansymphony.org; by calling 517-264-3121; at the ASO office at Mahan Hall, Adrian College; or at the door from two hours before the performance.

Audiences are invited to dress up as their favorite “Star Wars” characters and enter a costume contest during the concert, with the audience selecting the winner.

The ASO decided years ago to make its annual February concert a family-friendly pop performance, and “it really paid off,” said music director Bruce Anthony Kiesling. “He has grown year by year.”

For this edition of the annual tradition, Kiesling wanted to present a sample of music from all three “Star Wars” trilogies as well as some of the other films in the canon. The concert features some of the most recognizable music from the films, including the main theme itself, “Princess Leia’s Theme”, “Yoda’s Theme”, “Imperial March” and “Cantina Band”.

The program also includes music from what might be lesser-known films in the series, such as “Across the Stars” from “Attack of the Clones”; the “Scherzo for X-Wings”, “Rey’s Theme”, and “The Jedi Steps and Finale” from “The Force Awakens”; and “Jyn Erso and Hope” from “Rogue One,” which “Star Wars” fans will know was NOT scored by Williams but rather by Michael Giacchino.

Giacchino “has established himself as the heir apparent to John Williams,” Kiesling said, and his “Rogue One” music “will provide an inspiring ending to the concert.”

Friday’s performance also includes a dash of music from a few other Williams-scored films. There is “Adventure on Earth” by “ET”, for example, and music “Indiana Jones”: “The Adventures of Mutt” by “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” and the “Scherzo for Motorcycle” from the third film “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”.

Viewers will even learn a bit more about how certain Williams themes relate to the world of classical music. Kiesling and the ASO, for example, will present an excerpt from Howard Hanson’s Symphony No. 2 to illustrate its influence on Williams’ score for ‘ET’.

Why, exactly, does Williams rise to the top of anyone’s list of great film score composers?

Kiesling actually thinks Williams doesn’t get enough credit for his scoring skills overall. “He has an incredible gift for orchestral color and melody,” he said. “The music never seems to take over the film. I don’t think he’s appreciated enough for his score. Everyone just knows he writes great themes.

For example, he points to “Hook”, one of Williams’ scores “without great themes, but just good music”.

Kiesling said that while he’s tried many times to present film music in concert, it doesn’t always work as well as it does with Williams’ music, because some composers don’t write in a way that makes the snippets effective as stand-alone pieces. But Williams, on the other hand, has a real knack for writing music that works perfectly in concert form.

“His music extracts so well from movies, and not all composers do,” he said, and the themes “seem so complete to me. I really think he’s a master of the abridged orchestral work.

If you are going to

WHAT: ASO “Star Wars Universe” Pop Concert

WHEN: 7 p.m. on Friday, February 18

WHERE: Dawson Auditorium, Adrian College

TICKETS: $32/$29/$21 for adults, $30/$27/$21 for seniors, $18/$15 for students

HOW TO ORDER: Online at adriansymphony.org; by calling 517-264-3121; at the ASO office at Mahan Hall, Adrian College; at the door from two hours before the performance

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