Review: Welsh Proms - Movies & Musicals, St David's Hall, Cardiff
There’s always a real buzz of excitement when approaching a concert that turns a spotlight on to the world of movies and musicals.
For me, seeing and hearing an orchestra like the Royal Philharmonic bring to life themes from films such as Star Wars and Superman not only conjures up minds eye snippets of movie scenes but also enables me to recall placing stylus to vinyl and enjoying orchestrated movie music to great effect back in the 70s and 80s.
The Movies & Musicals prom, (which took place at Cardiff’s St David’s Hall as part of the 2018 Welsh Proms programme) on Friday evening certainly contained a feast of well-known, if not, on occasion slightly predictable selections) of movie scores.
Composer, John Williams was strongly represented on the selections performed by the Royal Philharmonic conducted by Owain Arwel Hughes CBE. The programme commenced with a medley of the Superman theme and the film’s love theme, Can You Read My Mind? Other examples from the Williams’ score book included Raiders of The Lost Ark, Harry Potter, ET and Schindler’s List (which featured a powerful and moving violin solo).
The Royal Philharmonic’s presentation from evening dress to electrifying musical performance was simply unbeatable and certainly allowed the energy of the music to flow from the stage into the auditorium with power. This was particularly present in the Star Wars Medley which included an exciting rendition of The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s theme). As the orchestra performed the score with apparent choreographic and musical unison, it was as if the conductor was soaring above the waves of a magical music storm. Musical presence indeed!
The film scores, which included Han’s Zimmer’s Pirates of the Caribbean and Howard Shore’s Lord of The Rings were broken up midway through the first and second sets with delightful diversions into classics from the world of musicals.
Welsh stage star, John Owen Jones was on hand to give both orchestra and conductor a belated introduction as well as the numbers he was to perform (something which had sadly lacked in the orchestral instrumental sets). Jones' performances alongside the Royal Philharmonic included Rodgers & Hammerstein's Some Enchanted Evening from South Pacific, Andrew Lloyd Webber's ‘Til I Hear You Sing from Love Never Dies and a magnificent presentation of the same composer's Music of the Night from Phantom of the Opera.
Jones' popularity owes a lot to his balance of stage presence and audience accessibility. His presentation is both fun and tongue in cheek. The second set saw him perform a magical rendition of Leonard Bernstein's Somewhere from West Side Story. “You won’t believe how many times the word Somewhere is repeated in the lyrics,” quips Jones before gesturing to a sheet on the stage floor, “I only noticed because I’m singing the words off a sheet.”
Jones’ performances continue with renditions of Ashman & Menken's Evermore from Beauty and the Beast and then Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg's Suddenly and Bring Him Home from Les Miserables featuring beautiful use of harp at the beginning.
The Movies and Musicals Welsh prom was certainly received and enjoyed by an appreciative audience with individual standing ovations recieved by John Owen Jones, The Royal Philharmonic and Owain Arwel Hughes CBE.
Certainly, proms of this nature are a great way to focus on the classical music utilised in fillms and if a few more composers are included in future programmes, they are certain to grow further with both interest and audience appreciation.