On Tuesday, October 24th, the London Philharmonic Choir, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, pianist Alexandra Dariescu, and conductor Benjamin Pope will provide the classical backing track for ‘Amadeus’ – the dazzling story of the tortuous rivalry between world-renowned composers Mozart and Salieri. This is part of the Royal Albert Hall’s Films in Concert series. Looking forward to singing at the Royal Albert Hall, Myrddin Edwards, a second bass in the choir, tells us how the Films in Concert series at the Royal Albert Hall makes classical music accessible to more and more people and how the film’s score is often the hidden star of the show.
So, what is the appeal of a Film in Concert for me?
Even before I signed up for the ‘Amadeus Live’ gig with my choir, I had already bought a ticket for my friend and me to see ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’ in concert at the Royal Albert Hall next March. He’s a big fan of the LOTR films, and I love anything with a big orchestra and choir. I’m secretly hoping that this will be a steppingstone to get him to come to more classical concerts with me!
I really like the concept of a Film in Concert. And I’m delighted that the LPC has been invited to sing backing vocals for Mozart – what an honour! A Film in Concert is essentially a live musical performance with a full symphony orchestra or chamber ensemble and chorus performing the musical score of a beloved movie while the film itself is projected on a large screen.
Now, this is not a new concept, of course, as the silent movies of the 19th and 20th centuries had a live honky-tonk piano helping to create atmosphere and mood. Lyrical melodies aided the romantic scenes, quick tempos, and syncopated rhythms contributed to action scenes, and dissonant harmonies helped create an unsettling atmosphere. Fortunately, CGI, filmmaking, and film soundtrack composition have come a long way since the 1920s flickering screen and the honky-tonk!
The appeal of a Film in Concert revolves around three things: introducing new audiences to different artistic genres, an appreciation of the film’s soundtrack, and the live music performance.
Introducing new audiences
The Royal Albert Hall has curated a fantastic series of films that will appeal to all kinds of people. We’ve already had ‘Black Panther,’ ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,’ music from the Tim Burton films, and ‘Amadeus’ is up next, followed by classics such as ‘Home Alone,’ ‘Harry Potter,’ and ‘Jurassic Park.’
A Film in Concert brings together film enthusiasts (my friend) and classical music lovers (me). It can introduce people to the world of orchestral music who may not have experienced it otherwise, and it can also provide classical music lovers with a new way to enjoy their favourite films. It’s a classic win-win situation.
Appreciation of film scores
More often than not, film scores and soundtracks are perceived as playing a supporting role to the visual elements of a film, such as acting, cinematography, and special effects. They are essential but don’t always receive the same level of recognition. When the orchestra and choir are right in front of your eyes in the hall, with the string section bowing away and the choir singing their hearts out, you will pay more attention to the music. The music becomes a visual part of the film, and you’ll appreciate the pivotal role it plays. Just imagine ‘Jurassic Park,’ ‘Star Wars,’ or ‘The Godfather’ on mute! Not for me, thanks!
But the main draw of a Film in Concert must be the live performance of the orchestra and choir. Live music has an inherent energy and immediacy that recordings lack. I can feel the vibrations of the instruments and the emotional intensity of the performers.
This immediacy immerses us, the audience, in the music and the film. In ‘Amadeus,’ when we sing Mozart’s ‘Lacrimosa’ over a scene in the film (I’m trying my best not to reveal spoilers!), I’m convinced that the audience will be moved to tears more than when I watched that scene in the film for the first time.
I’ve sung in many concert halls, with different conductors, and a wide range of classical pieces, but I’m very much looking forward to this new experience of ‘Amadeus Live.’ Tickets are still available, just! Head over to RAH website to book your seat for a fantastic night of Mozart.
Come and hear us
Benjamin Pope conductor
Alexandra Dariescu piano
Academy of St Martin in the Fields
London Philharmonic Choir