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*Star Wars* at the NY Philharmonic, 9/15/17


I saw a screening of *Star Wars* (aka *Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope*) with the score played live by the New York Philharmonic on 9/15/17. You might remember Richard and I saw their screening/performance of *Breakfast of Tiffany’s* last spring. It’s so amazing how they do this - - they remove the score from the movie but leave in the dialogue and sound effects.

I got an email from the NY Phil the day before saying that the first 350 audience members to arrive would get a free light saber. I decided to get there 45 minutes before they opened the doors, and was a little afraid that there would already be 500 people there - - turned out there were only five other people. They had four storm troopers posing for photos with people.

I sent the picture of the little Luke and little Darth Vader to my friend Martha, who thought little Darth was totally adorable - - “totes adorbs balls,” I believe was her direct quote. I said I was waiting for the little Darth to say, “Luke, I am your grandson.”

Irony of ironies, I ran into my friends Wendy and Norm! Also their friend Pearl. They showed up early enough to get a free light saber, too.

There were more photo ops up on the main level, I’ll put those pictures at the bottom of the review. But before I get to my review, I’ll share just one more picture, of me with a storm trooper:

I’m not really OWNING the fist bump, right?

The orchestra was conducted by conductor and composer David Newman, from the illustrious Hollywood Newmans: his father is nine-time Oscar winner Alfred Newman (including back-to-back Oscars for *With a Song in My Heart* and *Call Me Madam* in 1952 and 1953), his uncle is Lionel Newman (who won an Oscar for the movie of *Hello, Dolly!*, but let’s not talk about that), his brother is Thomas Newman (*Finding Nemo,* HBO’s *Angels in America,* *The Help,* *Skyfall*), and his cousin is Randy Newman (all three *Toy Story* movies, *Monsters Inc,* “Short People”).

I went to an event a few days before the performance that featured an interview with Newman, and he made the interesting observation that he had watched *Star Wars* without the score, and he noticed that there’s almost no character development in the movie! It all happens in the score.

The audience was totally geeked out, they applauded and cheered at every opportunity. I was touched that they cheered when the orchestra played the 20th Century Fox fanfare - - I imagine I’m one of only a few people in the audience who knew that the fanfare was written by David Newman’s father? Is it undignified of me to bring that up? Am I tooting my own horn? Playing my own fanfare, as it were?

Of course the audience went coo coo nutty when the orchestra started playing the main theme, and the crawl went up on the screen. Oh, that was thrilling.

They applauded at the first appearance of each of the leading characters, with a tender, reverent bit of applause for the late Carrie Fisher.

One of my favorite moments was very early in the film, an exchange between Luke and his uncle:

Uncle Owen: Luke! Take these two over to the garage will you, I want them cleaned up before dinner.

Luke: But I was going into Tosche Station to pick up some power converters!

A large segment of the audience laughed and applauded! True, Mark Hamill delivered the line as if he were saying, “But I was gonna go down to the malt shop with Archie and Jughead!” - - it was touching that such a big part of the audience was tuned into the *Star Wars* geek frequency. We all tuned into that frequency now and then, they were sharing it with us.

It had been a few years since I’d seen the movie. I’ve probably seen it maybe ten times? A few things I hadn’t really noticed before: C3PO and R2D2 are totally Laurel and Hardy. And Luke’s aunt’s outfit, the blouse with the wide collar and the denim jacket, it was so damn 70s! I’m sure my mother had a similar outfit, and she bought it from the Montgomery Ward catalog. Page 47.

I wish the NY Phil had used the original 1977 version of the movie and not the tarted up 1997 version. All of the “enhancements” from 1997, the CG additions, the insertions of new technology, they stuck out and make the whole thing look less authentic. It’s like retouching your baby pictures.

Seeing the movie with the score live pointed out all of the moments where there is no score. There’s no music in practically the whole trash compactor scene (which terrified me as a kid). I was surprised and disappointed that the swing music in the bar scene wasn’t played live, they used the soundtrack in the movie. Does the NY Phil not know any steel drum players?

The orchestra really played like a dream, they played like they really believed in the music. The brass! The strings! The freaking celesta! It was all so gorgeous and thrilling and exciting.

The NY Times had an article in the last week or so about all of the composers who John Williams ripped off - - excuse me, to whom he paid homage, in his score. I knew about Wagner and Holst, but hadn’t noticed Prokofiev and Stravinsky. All of these references are more apparent, of course, when you hear them played by the NY Philharmonic!

I’m seeing/hearing *The Empire Strikes Back,* *The Return of the Jedi,* and *The Force Awakens* over the next few weeks. May the force be with me!

Wendy sent me a text at intermission and she took a picture of me from down where she was sitting and I took a a picture of her from up where I was sitting.


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