Friday, 3 August 2018

Movie Music!

The Hong Kong Sinfonietta performed in the HK City Hall Concert Hall
 Tonight YTSL and I attended a really good concert put on by the Hong Kong Sinfonietta called "Sounds Great! Classical Music in Movies", held at Hong Kong City Hall Concert Hall.

Originally a guest conductor called Jason Lai, a British-born Chinese was supposed to lead the orchestra, but a few weeks ago YTSL received an email saying resident conductor Yip Wing-sie would be heading the program.

Never mind -- we were keen on the music and enjoyed it very much.

The orchestra looked packed on the stage, squishing everyone and all the instruments in, as there were many percussion instruments and several keyboards including a grand piano!

The concert started with the tingling Also Sprach Zarathustra: Introduction by Richard Strauss, which film goers will recognize as the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

This was followed by Wagner's Die Walkure: Ride of the Valkyries that was used in a scene in Apocalypse Now where the helicopters fly low and start shooting at the Vietnamese below in a village by the water. Yip says this piece of music was perfect for this scene, making it indelible in her mind.

Next on the program was Mozart's Clarinet Concerto in A, K622 (second movement), which was used in the film Out of Africa, a very romantic movie.

Tchaikovsky was next with two pieces, one was The Swan Lake, which Yip explained is always used in movies with ballets in them, followed by Romeo & Juliet Fantasy Overture, that has been used in soundtracks from Scrubs to South Park, Spongebob Square Pants and Looney Tunes cartoons.

After the intermission, we reassembled back into the concert hall to hear a rousing rendition of Mozart's Symphony No 25 in G minor, K183 (first movement). When I hear this piece I immediately think of the opening scene in Amadeus, where composer Antonio Salieri is found to have slit his throat. Yip says Mozart is the best composer in the world, which makes the film such a good one because it features his music in there.

Yip then talked about American composer Barber's Adagio for Strings. Originally it was supposed to be for a string quartet, but when it was used in the film Platoon, he adapted it for a string orchestra. Another haunting piece of music for Yip while watching the movie, but she said for those who hadn't, it was romantic piece.

It made me realize that as a conductor, she must listen to the music used in movies much more acutely than the rest of us! And how do composers feel about their music being used in films?

Then who can resist throwing in Johann Strauss Jr's On the Beautiful Blue Danube, Op. 314, the music most synonymous with the waltz. The last piece of music was from John Williams, of course Star Wars. Yip explained the orchestra likes playing his works because he composes for all the members to play, in particular percussion, along with harp and piano. So it's not just the audience that likes his music!

Yip encouraged the audience to come back again -- they are performing the same program tomorrow and Sunday!


  1. I really enjoyed this concert. Thought the musical selection fabulous for the most part, with only Tchaikovsky's "Romeo and Juliet" work not doing much for me, and really enjoyed hearing Yip Wing Sie's thoughts about the pieces.

  2. Hi YTSL - Yes liked her comments and interesting observation about John Williams' music! Sounded so good live!

  3. in vancouver symphony our retiring musical director bramwell tovey also does similar programs. i have not attended to them unfortunately. but i understand in order to enhance the enjoyment they also show some relevant footage of the movie.
    it will be nice to include howard shore's music. he wrote the scores for the lord of the ring series of movies. and won an oscar for it. ks