A long time ago (relatively) in a galaxy not so far away (Burghmuir Road to be specific) I had a childhood friend, Richard, who was obsessed with Star Wars. He was so into the original trilogy (the prequels at this stage thankfully didn't exist yet) that he painted his whole room black as the perfect background for his Death Star and Tie Fighter models.
When the Phantom Menace finally came out years later he saw it 3 times at the cinema in a vain effort to convince himself that it was actually pretty good. He was in store for more disappointment when he ordered (at huge expense) a full-size replica of Hans Solo frozen in carbonite to be delivered from America to his flat in Glasgow. When it arrived and he opened the box it was in pieces. He never really truly recovered.
I always pretended to be a little bit dismissive of Star Wars when I was around him, calling it the poor mans Last Starfighter, or a pound shop Battlestar Galactica but this was just to wind him up. Like every boy my age, I loved Star Wars and played obsessively with the figures when Return of The Jedi came out. C3PO was my favourite because you could take him apart and then carry him around in one of the Ewoks nets.
All these memories were flashing through my head as the RSNO struck up the opening theme from A New Hope. It was a really evocative piece of music and to hear it being played live was a powerful experience. The RSNO were being conducted by Richard Kaufman who has a great feel for this material. As a Los Angeles resident, he has played on John Williams film scores and even counts him as a friend. He is also hugely knowledgeable about Williams work and life and the information that he imparted between pieces added an extra layer of enjoyment to the music. For example, did you know that with The Last Jedi, John Williams now has a staggering 51 Oscar nominations?
Although the concert was billed as the music of Star Wars it did take a brief detour to take in other notable Williams scores. An otherworldy Close Encounters of the Third Kind suite provided a brief diversion from adventures in a galaxy far, far away and even Superman made a cameo. His Love Theme is followed by the Theme from Superman which was a real highlight for me. The orchestra sounds totally epic and I love the percussion. I'd somehow never really noticed how beat heavy Williams's music actually is but the percussionists certainly earned their money. At times there were two Marching snares playing simultaneously and plenty of cinematic cymbal crashes and pounding kettle drums.
Later on, it was time for the brass section to earn their crust as the strings took a breather for a rendition of the jazzy and jaunty Cantina Band that had me swaying in my seat despite my best efforts to restrain myself. The biggest draw of this afternoon though was the material from the recently released The Last Jedi. Williams, who is a great supporter of the RSNO, had emailed Kaufman the scores just last week and the RSNO were the very first orchestra to perform them in the UK. It was powerful stuff and some of the string players even broke out lightsaber style bows just for the occasion. The afternoon came to a fitting finale with a fanfare so cinematic that I half expected credits to roll as we were shuffling out of the auditorium. Let's hope there is a sequel!!!
Bellshill born multi-instrumentalist and his Irish born wife, Heidi Talbot, thrilled Perthshire concertgoers with their show at Birnam Arts Centre.
July 9th Monday 2018
We sent Samantha and baby River along to Scotland's most family friendly music festival
June 25th Monday 2018
Dog Friendly Perthshire hosted a special screening of Wes Andersons quirky animation 'Isle of Dogs' at The Perth Playhouse.
June 18th Monday 2018