100 Years of Epic Film Scores from the TSO

The Toronto Symphony program “100 Years of Epic Film Scores” is a kind of history lesson, while celebrating the role music has played in film for over a century. The significance of the century comes from it being TSO’s 100th anniversary, being commemorated throughout the season.

Steven Reineke was a combination of conductor, curator, history teacher & lecturer: and stand-up comedian. He’s a real entertainer.

Conductor Steven Reineke

Every piece was explained for its historical significance, including some funny anecdotes in a program playing at least one thing from each decade:
Erdmann & Leuschner: Overture from Nosferatu (1922)

Max Steiner: Main Theme from King Kong (1933)
Whiting & Mercer: “Hooray for Hollywood” (the first item on the program)

Erich Wolfgang Korngold: Suite from The Sea Hawk (1940)

Miklós Rózsa: “Parade of the Charioteers” from Ben-Hur (1959)

Bernard Hermann: Suite from Psycho (1960)
Elmer Bernstein: Main Theme from The Magnificent Seven (1960)
Maurice Jarre: Overture from Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Nino Rota: Love theme from The Godfather (1972)
Jerry Goldsmith: End title from Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

Ennio Morricone: “Gabriel’s Oboe from The Mission (1986)

Rachel Portman: End titles from Emma (1996)

Hans Zimmer (Music from Gladiator (2000)
Klaus Badelt: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

Alan Silvestri: Theme from the Avengers (2012)

Michael Giacchino: Main Theme from The Batman (2022)

There were times we heard music that’s so popular it needed no introduction. As we began the second half of the concert, after intermission Erika sighed beside me when they began to play Nino Rota’s music from The Godfather, while the audience cheered. At times there was a fervor bordering on something you’d find at a sporting event or a rock concert.

But at other times I watched Reineke conducting pieces that deserve to be played in the regular TSO concert programs. I wonder if Gustavo Gimeno would consider programming the music of Bernard Herrmann. We heard a wonderfully edgy performance of music from Psycho, although yes people did start to giggle when they heard the music from the shower scene.

Reineke’s friendly manner with the microphone is hugely educational, while he’s also like a cheerleader for the TSO, reminding us of how well they were playing. Yes, the dry Psycho score written entirely for strings offered the brass a bit of a break, after the fanfares from Ben-Hur or Sea Hawk. Yes you could hear the clear emulation of Holst’s Mars the bringer of war (coming up in a TSO concert next month), in Zimmer’s Gladiator: as Reineke explained.

Conductor Steven Reineke (photo: Michael Tammaro)

It was like a lecture on film music history, but a lot of fun.

These pieces stand on their own without the film, recalling that their purpose was to be played in support rather than in a concert. We were treated to an encore from the big name conspicuous for his absence from the above list, namely John Williams, in music from Superman (1978).

My one quibble is the parking. Right now it’s pretty crazy downtown with the construction, so be ready for a long drive home. Next time I think we’ll take transit (perhaps a GO train).

The TSO repeat this program twice on Wednesday Oct 26: at 2:00 and 8:00. It’s brilliant.

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