The Planets Plus Star Wars and Wicked

I get emails from the Houston Symphony about possible shows that I might be interested in attending since I saw Video Games Live a few years ago. Nothing seemed to interest me until last year I saw The Blue Planet and just a few weeks ago, The Planets Plus Star Wars. A group of us also decided to go watch Wicked. I only knew it was about the Wizard of Oz or something and I heard it it got some good reviews.

The Planets Plus Star Wars
Date: July 16, 2010 | Location: Jones Hall
Overall Review: Four stars (first half: five stars; second half: two stars)

To be honest, all I had to see was “Star Wars” and I was sold. The Planets series kind of lured me in as well since I just watched the first season of History Channel‘s series, The Universe on Hulu. I was looking through the program and I realized they were not just going to play John Williams’ orchestra suite from Star Wars, but also excerpts from Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Adventures on Earth from E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. The music took me back to when I first watched these movies! It was completely amazing, wonderful and freaking awesome.

The conductor, Brett Mitchell, told us that when movies are made, orchestras typically play the music after the movie has been edited and lasts no more than thirty seconds to a minute. The difficult part for the conductor and orchestra is hitting keys points to make sure the music is kept in sync and harmony with the film. George Lucas and John Williams have collaborated in many movies before E.T. and for the last scene, Williams was supposed to produce fifteen minutes of music in synchronization with the movie – that’s about one hundred back to back sync points that had to be coordinated!

After a few unsuccessful takes, Williams took a break was frustrated with himself. Lucas came up to him and told him to just play the piece as he wanted without any concerns about the film. It was magnificent. Lucas then told the film editors to go back and re-edit the last fifteen minutes of the movie to this piece. It was complete faith and trust between Lucas and Williams. It’s something that completely boggles my mind about movie making and how music plays such a key component at the box office.

The actual Planets piece wasn’t as moving, even with the photos playing in the background. There needs to be a better film editing to make the video clips match Gustav Holst’s mood and feelings portrayed for each planet.

I’d watch the first half over and over again, but leave during intermission.

Date: July 23, 2010 | Location: Sarofim Hall
Overall Review: Five stars

Have you ever wondered what happened to the witch to make her the way she is? Have you ever wondered how The Cowardly Lion, The Tin Man, and The Scarecrow came to be the way they are? This is the show to watch. It’s full of imagination, comedy and yes – singing.

Sometimes I feel like the singing is a little dragged out, but that’s because I’m just not that used to musicals. Other than that, it’s a great show!

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