back to earth!

Day at home, family all out at school – time to reflect on yesterday’s Intergalactic Adventure concert and begin final preparation for next week’s Science Fiction Classics concert.

Yesterday afternoon saw Oxford Town Hall filled to capacity – our first sold out family concert at last! – for an Intergalactic Adventure with the Oxford Philomusica. There were plenty of fantastic costumes – spacemen, aliens, robots – and not just in the audience: one of the horn players was wearing a genuine NASA spacesuit!

We discovered a couple of years ago when we started this series that the full orchestra is too overpowering for the venue so yesterday a mere 26 players took to the stage. I arranged all the music specially and although confident it would work, I was still relieved when we ran the main theme from Star Wars through to begin the rehearsal that there were no issues of balance and that it did indeed sound big and impressive. Full credit to the wind and percussion players who all quickly adapted to the different line up and played in a way that was very considerate to their string colleagues. Even Mars from the Planets still had the necessary menace and shock-factor!

We revealed that our spaceship – the Starship Improvise! – had been designed by Wallace and Gromit before a final countdown (yes, that Final Countdown!) and blastoff into “Space, the final frontier” and the iconic theme from the original Star Trek TV series. Each of the different sections of the orchestra represented a part of our solar system and we picked up a hitchhiker along the way – none other that E.T. the extra-terrestrial. With a little help from a certain Doctor Who we returned safely to Earth and had plenty of adventures to talk about.

All great fun and brilliantly performed by the Oxford Philomusica – thanks everyone!

Next week some of the same pieces come with me to Liverpool for Science Fiction Classics. This is the second family concert this year with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, following our hugely successful Family Film Favourites, and I’m really looking forward to it although there is the slight matter of a whole medley yet to be arranged! I’ve decided that the focus for this concert should be science fiction on the big and small screen. There’s plenty of film music – Star Wars, of course, as well as Little Shop of Horrors and even Time Warp from the Rocky Horror Picture Show – but I’ve decided to include a medley of cult TV science fiction themes, from the 50s to the present day. Today I’ve got to make my final selection and decide whether to present them chronologically or dramatically – I think that the musical sequence might work really well starting with the Twilight Zone anyway so perhaps I’ll just get that one done and see which theme feels right to follow it. The truth is out there, I’m sure!

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