On Saturday, June 26, the festival ‘Cultura es Vida / Culture is Life’ offered in Mallorca a film music concert entitled ‘Back to the Orchestra – A Retro Sci-Fi Symphony’, performed by the Balearic Symphony Orchestra conducted by Damian Mahler (read more).
Our colleague Gori Martínez attended the concert, and leaves us this exclusive article for SoundTrackFest.
For some time now, the Association of Friends of Science Fiction (AACF) through its president Honorio Arribas, TRUI TEATRE with its Manager Miquel Jaume and myself as collaborator of SoundTrackFest and president of the Association Mallorca Plató Musical, have been trying to program both concerts and Film Music Festivals in Mallorca.
The biggest difficulty has always been the possibility of carrying out these activities through the collaboration of the Orquesta Sinfònica de les Illes Balears – Balearic Symphony Orchestra, due to the amount of commitments they have.
At the beginning of the year 2020 we were in contact with Javier Fernández, Manager of Sira Music, an entertainment company from Argentina, who was working on a concert of Science Fiction film music and the issue of the images and their rights to use those in the concerts remained to be solved.
At the beginning of April this year, Miki Jaume contacted us and the AACF to set up the concert ‘BACK TO THE ORCHESTRA, A RETRO SCI-FI SYMPHONY’.
Javier Fernandez, the producer of the concert, is a Publicist, Manager, and Producer, with more than 17 years of career, having developed more than 1200 concerts in the 5 continents, including venues such as Luna Park, Gran Rex (Argentina), Palacio de los Deportes (Madrid), or Her Majesty Theatre (Sydney). During his 15 years as manager of ‘Dios Salve a la Reina’ he has performed more than 1000 shows for massive audiences, such as the Pilar festivities in Zaragoza or the Mathew Street Festival in Liverpool. From 2019 and together with Damián Mahler, they forged a strategic alliance for the creation of first level musical shows.
Damián Mahler is a musician, pianist, conductor, and composer. Damián has forged an extensive career conducting, playing, and composing in Argentina and abroad, being the creator of SIDDHARTA, the highest grossing musical of the last 10 years in Argentina (after Dracula, the masterpiece created by his father), besides composing original music for Disney and participating in tributes to QUEEN (Symphonic Bohemian Rhapsody) and Elvis (ELVIS PRESLEY LIVE: The Official Show) among many others. Being the great composers of soundtracks such as John Williams, Alan Silvestri, Danny Elfman, etc. part of his main musical influence, and recognizing himself as a passionate of cinema, Damian has been the manager of this show and is the one who was in charge of conducting of the concert.
For us it was a pleasant surprise that it had been possible to achieve the participation of 65 musicians of the Orquesta Sinfònica de les Illes Balears, due to the difficulties of agenda mentioned and due that a large stage is needed to be able to set them.
In this case the stage was the Trui Son Fusteret, where thousands of people could fit as spectators, accommodating on stage the 65 musicians with plenty of space to play with the necessary safety distances.
Rehearsals began on Tuesday, June 22, in the space set aside for the orchestra. In these rehearsals what was remarkable was the enthusiasm of the musicians to be able to play, once again, a great program of film music, in this case from the 70s, 80s and 90s, all from science fiction films and television series. Many of the musicians were in the John Williams Tribute Concert that was played in September 2012 at the Bellver Castle in Palma de Mallorca. Some of these musicians told me that they would love to play only in Soundtrack Concerts.
The dress rehearsal was held the day before, Friday, at the same time of the Concert, at 21h, with all the musicians in full and with the projection of test images, sound, and lights.
Unfortunately, it was not possible to include original images from the films due to copyright issues and the high cost of seeking permission from the copyright owners.
The dress rehearsal lasted the scheduled time of 2.5 hours, including a break.
The original program included more pieces, but it was too long and the effort for the musicians was too much, so themes had to be taken out and suites were composed including several pieces.
The concert was held outdoors, on a stage of several thousand square meters where the distances between tables made the security conditions excellent. Each table was prepared for six people, which allows to enjoy the concert with family or friends and being able to consume drinks and food during the concert. This may at first seem a little uncomfortable to enjoy the music, but the height of the stage and the correct amplification of the sound made it possible to enjoy the music at all times.
At the opening of the doors, the show could already be enjoyed with the presence of the Friends of Science Fiction and 40 extras, including Han Solo, Leia, Emperor Palpatine, Royal Guard, Darth Vader, Padme, Imperial Officer, Jedi, Tank Trooper, Bikerscout, Shadow Trooper, Rey, Kylo Ren, Doc Brown, and Marty McFly from Back to the Future, along with the Ghostbusters team with the replica of the Ecto 1 car.
The spectators enjoyed taking pictures and interacting with all of them.
The weather was good because, when the sun went down, the temperature was ideal for the event, neither hot nor windy nor cold, an ideal evening to enjoy the music.
Considering that it was the first event of a series of concerts called “Culture is Life” -never saw a better title-, it went better than expected because the audience came without fear and eager to enjoy the music.
As for the program, being quite extensive, it did not bore the audience because the themes performed are very well-known and were played without interruptions, and only at the beginning of each theme the conductor, Damian Mahler, exposed a brief and funny commentary to indicate the theme and its composer.
The program was based, as we have indicated, on Science Fiction and included composers such as John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Alan Silvestri, Basil Poledouris, Elmer Bernstein, Danny Elfman, Vangelis, Giorgio Moroder, etc. There was also a rock suite featuring Queen’s songs, and the Orchestra’s drummer was able to show off his talent.
The first part started with the main theme from “Back to the Future”, followed by a suite of three related themes: “Robocop”, “Terminator”, and “Blade Runner”, and then a suite from “Jurasic Park”, followed by another medley from “Ghostbusters” and “Gremlins”, where the AACF extras came into play. Next a suite with themes from “Conan”, “Buckaroo Banzai”, “Cocoon”, and “Tron”, followed by two themes from “Star Wars”: “Duel of the Fates” and “Across the Stars”. Then a medley of retro series like “Galactica”, “Star Trek”, “Twilight Zone” and to finish this part nothing better than “Raider’s March” from Indiana Jones. In total, nearly 45 minutes.
After the break, the second part began with the main theme of “Star Wars”, followed by the end titles of “Star Trek”, moving on to another suite of “Abyss”, “Star Trek II”, “Close Encounters”, and “The Last Starfighter”, then jumping to Star Wars with “Leia’s Theme” and later the main theme of “Batman”. Next, a medley called “Rock at Science” with “Immortals”, “Labyrinth”, and “Flash Gordon”, and then coming to the end with a suite of “The Neverending Story” and to finish with “Adventures on Earth” from ET.
At the end of the concert there was only one encore, “Imperial March” from Star Wars.
We enjoyed a second half of another 45 minutes that was not very long either, but that being close to midnight, gave way to a single encore, since it was time for the musicians to have their well-deserved rest after several days of hard work.
A great concert that can give way to a tour with that name, and, according to its promoter Javier Fernandez, would start in South America and then try to make the jump to the Iberian Peninsula. They will have very good competitors since in Spain we have great Orchestras with magnificent programs and several Film Music Festivals of unquestionable quality.
Article and pictures by Gori Martínez