SF symphony

A lovely night with Williams’s score, Ford’s performance, iconic scenes… there are no bad dates here!

Face melting, Nazi punching fun!

Raiders of the Lost Ark is the quintessential action-adventure film. One could confidently claim that it is the greatest action-adventure film of all time! There is nothing about Steven Spielberg’s 1981 classic that isn’t famous — the giant boulder, the snakes, the hat & whip, every single line of dialogue, Marion’s alcohol tolerance, the airfield fist fight, the melting faces, poisoned dates, and so on. Yet, one component of the film is arguably more iconic than all the rest: John Williams’s score. The awe-inspiring, galloping main theme that nearly all humans can identify is a benchmark against which all other adventure film music is compared, and it is the basis for which this amazing night at the San Francisco Symphony exists!

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“In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read.” -Anton Ego, Ratatouille

There will be no negative criticism here. Ratatouille live at the San Francisco Symphony was absolutely wonderful, highlighting both the magnificent award-winning score by Michael Giacchino and the brilliant animated masterpiece that is Brad Bird’s 2007 Pixar film. Audience members of all ages, including many families, entered Davies Symphony Hall over the weekend to watch Ratatouille. The SF Symphony has delivered numerous memorable film screenings accompanied by live scores, and this one sits near the top.

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Starfleet uniforms everywhere, a few Klingons posed for pictures, and ‘live long and prosper’ hand signals were shared — yes, the crowds gathered in Davies Symphony Hall last Thursday and Friday for the CineConcerts produced performance of Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage: A 50th Anniversary Celebration. Fifty years ago, Gene Roddenberry’s incredible contribution to science fiction came to life in the form of Captain Kirk and crew on the starship Enterprise. Since 1966, Star Trek has taken on many forms of media — tv series, video games, feature films, books, and so on. These performances are as much a celebration of the progressive themes and groundbreaking stances in Star Trek as they are of the sense of human existence and exploration, and perseverance, that permeates through every incarnation of the original stories. Oh, yes, and a celebration of the music!

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This upcoming weekend, July 16-17, the San Francisco Symphony will screen Pixar’s Oscar-winning film, Ratatouille, with the score performed live. Conducting the orchestra will be none other than the amazingly accomplished SF Symphony regular, Sarah Hicks. Sarah was gracious enough to answer some questions about her own musical tastes, as well as her special love of Pixar films…

Spinning Platters: My excitement for the Ratatouille show is growing, since it’s my favorite Pixar film. A popular dinner party question is ‘what’s your favorite Pixar film?’ So, do you have a favorite Pixar film?

Sarah Hicks: Oh, I can’t really choose because I love them all!  That being said, I have to admit that the ones I keep going back to are Monsters, Inc., Up and Ratatouille.

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As you can see from the image above, this wasn’t your average night at the symphony. On Thursday, the San Francisco Symphony honored legendary film composer John Williams with a program full of his iconic, award-winning scores. From fantasy epics like Star Wars and Harry Potter, to memorable dramas like Schindler’s List and Lincoln, John Williams has put a musical stamp on well over 100 films, and is still writing amazing scores to this day, at age 84.

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On July 14-15, the San Francisco Symphony will celebrate 50 years of Star Trek with Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyagefeaturing iconic film and TV footage beamed on to a huge screen while the symphony performs the musical scores, live! CineConcerts, the producer of this live music experience, was founded by composer/conductor Justin Freer. Freer will be conducting the SF Symphony’s two performances.

Freer graciously took a short break from a studio session to speak to us about his musical career, CineConcerts, and of course, Star Trek…

Justin Freer: Let’s do this. What do you want to talk about?

Spinning Platters: Let’s talk about film music!

Justin Freer: <<laughs>>

SP: How did you first get into film music? I read that you grew up learning trumpet and later music composition, but when did film music start to interest you?

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Show Review: ‘E.T. the Extra Terrestrial’ Live in Concert with the SF Symphony

March 27, 2016

All the music. All the magic. All the feels. I haven’t seen E.T. in twenty years, but by the time the credits rolled I had teary eyes and the theme song wonderfully repeating itself in my head. My girlfriend sitting next to me exclaimed, “my track record of crying every time I see E.T. is still intact”. That’s […]

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Show Review: “Gotta Dance!” Great Moments of Dance in Film

March 29, 2015
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On Saturday night, the San Francisco Symphony hosted Gotta Dance!: Great Moments of Dance in Film at Davies Symphony Hall. If the first thing you pictured when hearing this title was Gene Kelly dancing under the giant orchestrated set of Broadway lights or the long, flowing white dress of Cyd Charisse (or the flashy green dress, for […]

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Show Review: “Sticks & Stones” at SoundBox

February 16, 2015

The San Francisco Symphony’s new venue, SoundBox, is located in the back of Davies symphony hall on Franklin Street. Once just a rehearsal space but now a fully transformative experimental music space, SoundBox is basically half club and half concert hall.  There’s really only one way to put it — SoundBox is flat-out cool!

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Show Review: Pixar in Concert with the SF Symphony

July 18, 2014
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The magic of Pixar Animation Studios has produced 13 films since it debuted its first feature in 1995 with Toy Story.  These films have consistently raised the bar for animated storytelling, and with such an impressive list of titles including the Toy Story series, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Up, Finding Nemo, and more, it’s no surprise […]

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