Concert ‘Tribute to Morricone, Zimmer, Williams & Hisaishi’ – Valencia – November 2023 [Summary]

On Saturday, November 18, the Royal Film Concert Orchestra under the baton of Fernando Furones, performed a concert entitled ‘Tribute to Morricone, Zimmer, Williams & Hisaishi’ in Valencia, Spain.


Our colleague & collaborator Frederic Torres attended the event and leaves us this detailed summary for SoundTrackFest.



Organized by the Excelentia Foundation, a new film music concert was held in Valencia on November 18, performed by the Royal Film Concert Orchestra (RFCO), one of the several ensembles created by the Foundation (the other two are the Santa Cecilia Classical Orchestra, for classical repertoire, and the Délica Chamber Orchestra, formed exclusively by women), which was led by the guest conductor, Fernando Furones, a regular in these matters for years, as he kindly told me himself during the interval between the first session of the day (at 5 p.m.) and the second (the one at 20:00 hours), which is the one I attended.

Concert ‘Tribute to Morricone, Zimmer, Williams & Hisaishi’ - Valencia - November 2023 [Summary]


According to its own website (, the Excelentia Foundation was born to create and represent the musical arts in all their varieties, spreading music and the cultivation of new musical values in order to “transmit through its work the universal values of harmony and listening that ennoble human beings“, among other objectives.


After the courtesy of Furones to attend me during the break, who commented on his formative time at Berklee Valencia, and his continuity with the Foundation and the RFCO project for more than five years, especially dedicated to the film repertoire, the concert began punctually at the Palacio de Congresos y Exposiciones of the capital of the Turia, with a poster announcing works by four of the great maestros of the most recent history of film music under the generic title of “Tribute to Morricone, Zimmer, Williams & Hisaishi”.

Concert ‘Tribute to Morricone, Zimmer, Williams & Hisaishi’ - Valencia - November 2023 [Summary]


The program listed all the titles to be performed by the orchestra and the conductor, although it is worth noting the detail that neither one nor the other was announced on the outside of the program, which thus gave all the prominence to the four great composers mentioned. It is at least significant, as it is a sign (perhaps unconscious) that the audience is only interested in listening to those popular themes of their favorite composers, no matter who performs them.


Furones has already performed on several occasions with the RFCO and is well known to the public, which again filled the Congress Palace just a week after another double day of film music starring the well-known FSO. And there are similarities between them. Differences too.


Among the first ones, the program, which was put together as a potpourri, easy in the case of the RFCO, given that it was a matter of interpreting well-known pieces by these four monsters of film music (titles that will be described one by one below), as well as a less showy and much more discreet, but also effective, staging and lighting. To this must be added Furones’ contagious enthusiasm for the scores he conducts, although there is an absence of pedagogical intent, since the context of each performance is not explained, as Constantino Martínez-Orts does, probably because the works performed by the RFCO are much more popular and well-known and therefore do not need it. This is one of the differences, as well as that of a much more accessible and well-known repertoire than that usually performed by the FSO, also popular, but which seeks to combine classical and contemporary themes that are less known, because they’re less performed, given the veteran nature of a project that would have already overcome and exhausted that first phase of offering super well-known themes to the public.


Thus, with a sound that was also amplified (it should be remembered that the venue is intended for congresses and not for musical performances), Furones opened with the overture to Hook, by Williams, where the horn solo that marks the beginning of the work shines by itself. And beyond the success of the soloist (even the most reputable can fail at a given moment), it gave the impression of lacking a certain epic or energy in the Orchestra (mostly with a young roster), especially if the inevitable tendency is to compare it with listening to the original soundtrack on disc. Obviously, with the ear accustomed to listening to Williams in recordings with the best possible musicians, it is not easy to offer a solvent live performance that makes you forget the original, which also has the advantage of repeating that virtuosity in each of the listenings that are carried out.

Concert ‘Tribute to Morricone, Zimmer, Williams & Hisaishi’ - Valencia - November 2023 [Summary]


The same thing happened with Morricone’s For a Few Dollars More, which was heard next. The theme, retentive and easily recognized by the enthusiastic audience, sounded again with skill and application, but distant from the energy displayed by that young Morricone of the mid-sixties, who surprised both friends and strangers with his musical interpretation of the western.


Williams’ E.T. tested the amplified basses, which produced a somewhat annoying rumble/sound in the background, while, for example, the cymbals were occasionally barely audible, all common problems derived from amplification. The development came to be a sort of “abridged” suite of the much longer piece entitled “Adventures on Earth” which is present on the original disc, and which is usually performed in concerts.


More interesting was Hisaishi’s first film, Spirited Away, the extraordinary score by the Japanese composer for the no less stupendous film by the mythical Ghibli Studios, in which practically all his works have been developed by the great Hayao Miyazaki, director of all the animated films present in the program, who has formed one of the great duos in the history of cinema together with Joe Hisaishi. Either because it is not usually heard live, or because of the special dedication of the performers, especially the pianist (an instrument very dear to the melodious Japanese composer), the truth is that the piece was very well executed.

Concert ‘Tribute to Morricone, Zimmer, Williams & Hisaishi’ - Valencia - November 2023 [Summary]


Halfway performance received Williams’ Jurassic Park, for which Furones included the ceremonious central theme, somewhat routine after so much listening due to its inclusion in countless concerts, together with the much more powerful theme of the trip to Isla Nublar, in my oppinion, richer and more dynamic.


Again, Hisaishi’s return with the emblematic Princess Mononoke, one of Miyazaki’s first international hits, brought the required epicness, which declined when interpreting the lyrical and melodious themes dedicated to Princess Leia (with her horn, oboe, and violin solos) and the inevitable Cinema Paradiso, by Morricone (father and son, as it should be remembered that the love theme is signed by the latter), also extensible to “Gabriel’s Oboe”, belonging to The Mission, by Morricone.


The epic returned from the hand of Williams and his “Harry’s Wondrous World”, a suite dedicated to the saga of the world famous Harry Potter, as it also did thanks to another sample of the exquisite Hisaishi, the one corresponding to Howl’s Moving Castle, a delightful film, although more unknown than its predecessors. After that came “The Ecstasy of Gold”, the emblematic passage from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, whose theme would also be heard, onomatopoeias included, after the dynamic passage dedicated to Zimmer and his Inception (in the program, curiously it was related to its original English title, Inception instead of the Spanish one ‘Origen’), in which Furones and the orchestra gave their all with the infectious string scherzos. In contrast, The Lion King, also by Zimmer, was a suite arranged to hear the film’s songs (which do not belong to Zimmer) in orchestral format, a recognizable medley and one that the audience, in any case, appreciated.

Concert ‘Tribute to Morricone, Zimmer, Williams & Hisaishi’ - Valencia - November 2023 [Summary]


The “Imperial March” that Williams dedicated to the evil character of the famous galactic saga, Darth Vader, tried to raise the enthusiastic decibels of the public, although it lacked a certain martiality by not incorporating the rolls of the box, and with Gladiator, by Zimmer, the function was concluded in a dynamic way, in which the reference by the German composer to Gustav Holst’s The Planets was noted again, as well as his prelude in the action theme of the film, a clear predecessor of the one that soon after would become the very popular main theme of Pirates of the Caribbean, which was the encore that Furones offered to a standing audience at the end of the concert, which lasted just an hour and a half as it did not have any intermission.


With the promise to return soon, specifically on December 28, to perform a program composed of a combination of works by John Williams and the best music of Disney, as well as a month later, in January 2024, specifically on the 27th, to develop a double session dedicated in the first instance (at 17:00), to “Morricone and 100 Years of Cinema”, and in the second (at 20:00) a “Tribute to Hans Zimmer and the Best Action Cinema”, Furones said goodbye to the warm ovation of the standing audience, excited by the large handful of contemporary classics performed and perfectly recognized.

Concert ‘Tribute to Morricone, Zimmer, Williams & Hisaishi’ - Valencia - November 2023 [Summary]


A formula that, for the moment, is granting great success to each and every one of the private initiatives that have been emerging during the last decade dedicated to the interpretation of film music in theaters. Even if it is only about great international hits and their most characteristic central themes, in which it seems that Spanish cinema, for the moment, has no place.


Article and pictures by Frederic Torres