On Friday, September 6th, we enjoyed a special concert in Valladolid (Spain), on the occasion of the city’s festivities. The concert, entitled ‘Film Music – Heroes and Superheroes’, was performed by the Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León – Castilla y León Symphony Orchestra (OSCyL) and conducted by David Hernando Rico.
The concert had the collaboration of Mikael Carlsson (Soundtracks Live!) and Gorka Oteiza (SoundTrackFest), with the presence of composers Zacarías M. de la Riva and Luis Ivars, whose works were included in the program (suites of the soundtracks of Tad Jones and Captain Thunder respectively).
Gorka Oteiza has written a summary article of the concert, which you can read below.
One week before the concert, Gorka Oteiza had the chance to chat with Zacarías M de la Riva and Luis Ivars for SoundTrackFest, where they talked about the concert suites and the soundtracks of the films they come from, in an interview that you can read here:
The rehearsals were performed a few days before the concert, where the pieces included in the program were played and polished, to end with a dress rehearsal on the same day of the concert, Friday, September 6th, in the morning.
Here you have some photos of the rehearsals, with all the participants in attendance.
On Friday 6/9/2019 at 19:30h we arrived at the Miguel Delibes Cultural Center, where the Jesús López Cobos Symphony Hall is located, the place for the concert. It was crowded outside, and according to the official data of the venue, more than 95% of the tickets were sold (at a single price of 15 €), making that more or less 1,500 seats occupied for the concert.
Despite the crowd that was in the place, the entry was fluid, with an agile and direct access from the outside to the hall through glass doors, facilitating the flow. Once in the main hall, you could find tables with the brochure with the program, and then you could enter to the concert hall through several doors located on both ends. Once inside, the seats were accessed by going down some stairs, so that the lower we were, the closer we got to the front rows, which were almost at the same level with the stage.
The concert did not include any visual support of images or videos, leaving it all to the music, and it was not amplified or equalized/balanced, since the powerful acoustics of the hall (which sometimes were a disadvantage), didn’t require it.
The evening began at 20:10h with the delicious and soft overture of Michael Kamen – Robin Hood, prince of thieves (1991), which established a tone of action and adventures, ideal for a concert of superheroes music. The next piece, John Williams – Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) – Scherzo for motorcycle and orchestra, offered dynamism and agility, mixed with funny sections, in a great piece and a great performance of the OSCyL orchestra.
Continuing with the adventures of Indiana Jones, it was time to rescue the theme that Williams composed for the girl of our beloved adventurer, Marion’s theme, but not in a suite taken from the first film, but from the 4th installment of the saga, with the piece John Williams – Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) – Marion’s Theme that has a long and wonderful development in the melody. Going back to action, as if we were riding a roller coaster of musical sensations, the next piece gave us energy and intensity with John Williams – Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) – March. A very well-known theme, which caused many movements of hands, feet, and heads to the rhythm of the marvelous march of Indiana Jones, which delivered joy and overflowing enthusiasm (although perhaps it was a little bit faster than in the original recording, which is no problem for a live concert that has to convey strength and agility). At this point in the concert, we could already notice the firm and precise pulse with which David Hernando Rico was going to conduct the whole evening, leading the orchestra to give their best.
Ending the block dedicated to the ‘Classic Heroes’, and with a brief pause for applause, it was time to enter the block dedicated to the national heroes; the ‘Spanish Heroes’, who despite not having super-powers, are characters that in one way or another made a difference. The first piece to be performed was Luis Ivars – Captain Thunder (2011) – Suite that has a great, intense, and epic start, to give way to several softer sections, in a very good suite of about 7-minutes long. Luis Ivars, who was among the audience, went out on stage, thanking with gestures both the orchestra for their performance and the public for their warm applause.
Then, and when it was 20:40h, Roque Baños – Torrente (1998) – Suite started with a fast and complex violin solo, which led the suite to a circus-style melody, to present later the main theme of Torrente with the brass section, giving the suite a good counterpoint for this anti-hero. A complex, varied, and very good suite, where at times you could see ‘Elfmanish’ reminiscences in the music. A big applause from the public both for the orchestra and the concertmaster, who got up at the end of the piece, giving way to the last piece of the first part of the concert: Zacarías M. de la Riva – Tad Jones: The Hero Returns (2017) – Suite.
For approximately 10 minutes, the suite condensed most of the film’s themes, starting with the mystery of the treasure hunt, going through the love theme, the mummy’s funny theme, a tribute to Indy’s original scherzo, or the triumphant and semi-heroic theme of Tad Jones. A suite very well performed, which perhaps became a bit long, but which was enjoyable. At the end, and among a great applause from the public, Zacarías M de la Riva went on stage and greeted and thanked the orchestra and the public.
And so, when it was 21h and with 50 minutes of concert in the first half, it was time for the intermission. After the 20-minute break, which was quite short, began the second half with the extensive and complete piece Danny Elfman – Batman (1989) – Suite, which contains both the theme of the main hero, and the waltz Elfman assigned to his nemesis, the Joker. Fabulous performance of the orchestra under the attentive and watchful eye of David Hernando, although perhaps the 13 minutes that the piece lasted became a bit long.
Then we had a surprise, Joe Harnell – The Incredible Hulk (1978) – Main Theme (The Lonely Man), a piece that is not frequently seen in concert, and whose delicious and smooth start to the piano was later accompanied by string and brass sections in a majestic way. A piece that surely brought many good memories to the ‘older ones’ in the hall, who had seen the series when it was broadcast originally on television.
Then, Marco Beltrami – Hellboy (2004) – Suite began, which although it had a good development and execution, in addition to a good structure, it was not received very warmly by the audience. Coincidently, the following suite, Lolita Ritmanis – Justice League (2011) – A Symphonic Adventure, dedicated to the music of an animated series, was lively, agile, and very entertaining, and we could see kids moving their heads to the rhythm of the music. This was especially remarkable when the drums appeared nearly at the end of the suite, giving a dynamism that contrasted with the sound of the orchestra, in a pleasant surprise, which even caused some people on the balconies to partially rise in their seats, to see where the drums were located.
Almost at 22h, was the moment of the piece Rupert Gregson-Williams – Wonder Woman (2017) – Suite, a boring and dull piece, which was on its own merit the weakest of the second half, and of all the concert, where Wonder Woman‘s theme made a brief appearance in the brass section, but without being remarkable at all.
The next piece regained the pulse of the concert with Danny Elfman – Spider-man (2002) – Main Theme, which although had a slightly irregular start, got a wonderful rhythm and had a great performance by the orchestra, conveying the entire essence of the soundtrack.
Arriving at the official end of the second half, we could find John Ottman – X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) – Suite, a piece of 4 minutes, which put an end to the concert with strength and energy. But a big round of applause made David Hernando come out again to grant one more piece… after saying something to the kids in the audience “I think we are missing a superhero, aren’t we? Do you know who?”, And he got a response from some kids in the first rows saying: “ Superman!!”
And so, raising the baton, came the first and only encore of the evening John Williams – Superman (1978) – Superman March, a very well-known piece, very demanding especially in the brass section of the orchestra, and especially when you’ve already had nearly two hours of concert. But the orchestra, as if they had super powers and were another superhero, managed to draw strength from where it could hardly be, and offered a superlative and excellent performance of the march, taking flight and elevating, just as Superman does, with his characteristic and unique music.
But Superman didn’t only raise the tone of the evening: he also raised the spirits of the audience, who insistently and with almost 5 minutes of applause, asked for a second encore, which unfortunately did not come, since the evening was already quite long and there were no more pieces prepared. And so, at 22:25h approximately and with a good feeling, the concert ended.
I will start by commenting one slightly atypical point, but that caught my attention positively: the high level of civility of the audience. Despite having a good number of children in the hall, their good education, as well as that of their parents, who supervised and accompanied them, made possible the silence required by a symphonic concert and the respect a symphony orchestra deserves. Moreover, despite being warmer than usual in the hall during the concert, and seeing older ladies with a fan in their hands to get some fresh air, they closed the fans at the beginning of the pieces, and only used them during the breaks; something that hasn’t been that way, in many concerts I’ve been.
Talking about the music, I think I am not mistaken when I say we witnessed an excellent concert. The high degree of involvement of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León – Castilla y León Symphony Orchestra (OSCyL) under the expert and skillful baton of David Hernando Rico, offered us a great concert with a great performance.
The balanced program prepared by the expert Mikael Carlsson (Soundtracks Live!), took the audience on a musical roller coaster of strong and soft moments, being a great success, since it achieved it avoiding the typical pieces which are usually scheduled in popular film music concerts.
The audience thanked the evening with a long applause at the end, waiting for an encore that unfortunately did not arrive. But fortunately, the orchestra has already confirmed that they want to repeat the experience in 2020. So, if fate doesn’t want it any other way, 2020 will bring back more film music to Valladolid, performed by the OSCyL and David Hernando Rico (and accompanied by the same team). Are you going to miss it? We surely won’t!
Article by Gorka Oteiza