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One of the greatest scores in movie history would never have ever existed if John Williams didn’t have guts. According to conductor Kim Allen Kluge, “George Lucas approached Williams to adapt the music from Gustav Holst’s The Planets to a new series of films that Lucas was calling Star Wars. Williams responded that he could do far better than merely arranging Holst’s music—he could write an original score. And thus was born some of the most popular, enduring and influential film music ever composed.”
In this program, Kluge and the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra honor the legacy of the Oscar-winning composer with Holst’s aforementioned composition, as well as two other pieces that are appropriately cinematic—and some Williams classics, of course.
- Holst—The Planets: The seven movements of this grand piece are named for different bodies in the solar system, and nod to the planets’ supposed astrological effects—from the sinister, bellicose strains of “Mars” to the ethereal melody of “Neptune.”
- Wagner—Ride of the Valkyries: The opening to the third act of the second opera in the Ring Cycle, Ride’s ominous yet victorious centerpiece is as equally important to pop culture as it is to classical music. For that, you can thank Apocalypse Now, The Blues Brothers, The Wire, and especially Elmer Fudd (“Kill da wabbit, Kill da wabbit…”).
- Williams—Music from E.T. and Star Wars: From the Cantina Band’s jaunty tune to Darth Vader’s cheery Imperial March, Star Wars has its share of unforgettable themes, but his soundtrack to E.T.: the Extra-Terrestrial is no slouch either—the soaring music during the bike-flight sequence could lift just about anyone to the stars. Both scores earned the composer more gold to throw into his backyard landfill of Oscars.
- Berlioz—“March to the Scaffold” from Symphonie Fantastique: The composer was inspired by a romantic infatuation when writing the Fantastique, in which a young artist attempts suicide by laudanum. However, he only takes enough to begin hallucinating his “Beloved,” depicted in “March to the Scaffold” as a clarinet.
Alexandria Symphony Orchestra
When Kim Allen Kluge took over as music director of the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra in 1987, the outfit was made up of a small but enthusiastic group of community musicians. Sensing the potential of the orchestra, Kluge augmented the ensemble with freelancer virtuosos, quickly establishing the ASO as the premier professional symphony in northern Virginia. Today, the collective performs in the elegant Schlesinger Concert Hall on the Northern Virginia Community College campus, which makes for an acoustically friendly venue and a convenient base of operations for pranks on the Dean.