Last Sunday, the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra brought a packed chapel to Hollywood with their concert “LSO Goes to the Movies.” The concert featured music from several popular films, as well as hosting and commentary from Associate Professor of Music Julie McQuinn and Kimberly-Clark Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies Fred Sturm.
It also served as the world premiere of “A Place Transformed,” the film collaboration between Lawrence’s Web Content and New Media Specialist Rachel Crowl and Alex Johnson ’12.
The concert opened dramatically with Indiana Jones — “The Raiders March” from “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” A perfect choice to start the show, this piece hinted at exactly what was to come, and that it was going to be impressive.
Soon after, McQuinn made her entrance — and if anybody is enthusiastic about music, it’s McQuinn. Throughout the show, McQuinn and Sturm provided tidbits and background information about the rise of film scores and how they reached where they are today.
For many modern listeners, film scores are the majority of their exposure to any sort of classical music, and, combined with audio and visual experiences, film scores have the power to evoke powerful emotion. After seeing a film, the emotions experienced during that film are tied to the music; listening to the score later can bring them back in a heartbeat.
The concert became at once a form of transportation and an interesting music history lesson. Following McQuinn’s opening speech, concertgoers sailed the seven seas with Captain Jack Sparrow and highlights from the score of “Pirates of the Caribbean.”
Next were a few shivery pieces from the Basilisk fight in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.” After Sturm’s entrance — which involved a Superman outfit — came a comparison of the “Jaws” theme with Antonín Dvorák’s”New World Symphony,” showing just how much film score composers were influenced by the classics.
One of the highlights of the concert came with the premiere of Crowl’s video “A Place Transformed,” a visual journey explaining the effect the MoreLight! campaign has had on Lawrence and all of the changes that have occurred across campus.
While the video has been available on YouTube for a while, this concert marked the premiere of Alex Johnson ’12’s accompanying score, composed over winter break. It was fascinating to hear an example of a film score so recently composed by one of Lawrence’s very own among all of the other familiar pieces.
The second half began with a treatise on Ravel’s “Bolero” to show how the popularity of a piece can affect the public, followed by excerpts from “Titanic,” featuring the voice of Graycie Gardner ’14.
Next came two powerful pieces from “Schindler’s List,” after which came what many had been waiting for — selections from “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.” Finally, the show finished with a “Star Wars” medley, closing with familiar songs.
Although the content of the show varied widely, the message remained clear throughout. Music and its associations can transport listeners immediately to memories of distant lands and past times, conjuring emotions, happy or sad. Even though we stayed in the chapel the whole time, the concert really did feel like a long journey.