BSO delights audience with music of ‘Star Wars’ movies

Posted March 08, 2017, at 1:43 p.m.

Lucas Richman has been handed many a posey since taking the baton at the Bangor Symphony Orchestra. But last weekend was the first time at the Collins Center for the Arts that he’s been presented with flowers by Darth Vader.

The orchestra’s annual pop concert, which featured the music that John Williams has written for seven films in the Star Wars saga, brought in fans sporting shirts, sweaters and more featuring their favorite characters, along with season ticket holders who were more familiar with the music of Beethoven than Williams.

Williams’ “Star Wars” scores are as layered and complex as the classical composers season ticket holders delight in and rarely tire of hearing. The players with the BSO on Sunday mastered the intricacies of the music and embraced the reverence fans hold for the saga. It was a bold and charming performance with a full contingent of strings, brass, reeds, timpani and percussion.

The program, performed on both Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, included 17 titles, nearly all of them familiar to film fans. The first half of the concert began with the “Main Title” sequence, first heard in 1977 when what is now called “A New Hope” was released, and ended with “The Imperial March,” the musical theme for the villain Vader.

The second half of the concert featured themes for Princess Leia and Yoda as well as the well-known “Cantina Band,” from the seedy bar in Mos Eisley where Luke and Obi-Wan met up with Han Solo. Act II ended with the music played as the princess honored her fellow heroes in “Throne Room,” which led into the “End Title.”

Singers from the Bangor Area Children’s Choir, the Bangor High School Chorus and the Hampden Academy Chamber Singers joined the orchestra for “Duel of the Fates” and “Battle of the Heroes.” The young voices added a sense of hopefulness despite the music written for the exciting space battles.

Richman has known Williams for more than 30 years and conducted the “Star Wars” concert dozens of times. The BSO conductor’s admiration and respect for the composer was evident in the precision he required of the musicians. Richman’s showed his love for the films through the brief introductions he gave for each piece and his interactions with R2D2 and Vader.

This year’s pops concert satisfied fans of the “Star Wars,” many of whom may have been introduced to orchestral music through the films, and classical music devotees. It also brought in three generations of families, a rarity these days in any concert hall.

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