Arts Review

Star Wars: The Force Awakens In Concert

Cineconcerts present Star Wars: The Force Awakens in Concert with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra


Saturday 22nd April, 2023

Brisbane Convention Centre


Conducted by Nicholas Buc 

Composed by John Williams


Dr Gemma Regan


The QSO stormed the Convention Centre with their forceful accompaniment to Star Wars: The Force Awakens


The Force was with the Brisbane families today as they packed into a galaxy far, far away. Well, the Brisbane Convention Centre Auditorium where many of the Star Wars characters from The Force Awakens were available for photographs. Many were keen to challenge Kylo Ren to a lightsaber duel and pose with stormtroopers and pilots of the First Order. Even the more mature Luke Skywalker came out of retirement for a quick pose.


Many children were in character, with Rey and Kylo Ren outfits as firm favourites, brandishing lightsabers. All were eager to see the 2015 Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the seventh film in the Star Wars series of nine movies, which starts 30 years after Return of the Jedi.


The Cineconcerts screening gave Star Wars fans the unique opportunity to watch the movie on a giant screen accompanied by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra who played the entire score live!

They excel in presenting live movie classical concert experiences, recently presenting Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince with the QSO. 


The unique screening enables the audience to witness a live symphonic orchestra playing the soundtrack live below the high-definition 12-metre screen for a  five-star immersive experience. 


Star Wars is synonymous with science fiction movies and the soundtrack by John Williams elevated the Star Wars series from a cheesy low-budget movie to one of the best Sci-Fi movies of the 20th century. Although, in 2015 The Force Awakens had a decent budget of $400 million but made $2.071 billion from the box office alone!


Williams was originally asked to compose the soundtrack by George Lucas after being recommended by Steven Spielberg for his famous score for Jaws. He composed a bold and brassy soundtrack with echoes of Holst’s Planets Suite and his use of distinctive leitmotifs which were inspired by the film, King’s Row (1942), scored by Erich Wolfgang Korngold.


There are new characters and all the old favourites as you journey with the rebel alliance from Jakku to the evil Starkiller Base. A fourth-generation death star, harnessing the immense power of the Sun to destroy planets. 


Rey (Daisy Ridley) is the new main character, a lonely scavenger who becomes embroiled in the centre of a galactic conflict. She discovers she is strong in the force and has the potential to be a real Jedi. However, the evil spoilt brat, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), has other ideas and wields his awesome cross-lightsaber with impunity under the command of Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis).


Conductor Nicholas Buc introduced the concert, commenting that he thought besides the original three, this was the best score by John Williams of the Star Wars series of nine films. Williams composed all nine over five decades! After the instruments were tuned to A, Buc warned the audience to strap themselves in for the ride, finishing with a “May the Force be with you!”


Buc is highly sought after as a conductor for live film concerts, having conducted the world premieres of John Williams' Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Hans Zimmer’s The Lion King (2019), Alan Menken's Beauty and the Beast (2017) and Alexandre Desplat’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. He even has the unique record of having conducted all three original Star Wars films in concert…in one day!


Surrounding Buc under the giant screen were the 50-strong Queensland Symphony Orchestra, with Alan Smith in the role of Concertmaster, all eager to play the entire musical score live. As they are sitting below the high-definition 12-metre screen you can simultaneously watch the musicians as the film and dialogue play and the musicians accompany the music.


There was a small screen that Buc used to coordinate the live QSO performance with precision timing, with green bars to denote the upcoming start of each piece and grey bars scrolling along for each musical bar and a red bar for the end. A white flash appeared to indicate that the next piece was imminent, enabling Buc to prepare the orchestra with raised arms, lest they got too interested in the film plot! Amusingly, most of the musicians watched along with the film during each interlude and appeared to be fans. 


The audience was mesmerised, watching the orchestra and the film simultaneously, applauding loudly for the musicians whenever the music paused. Everyone was immersed in the film, and as the music swelled all cheered when each tie fighter crashed.


There were also whoops and cheers when each of the familiar characters appeared on the screen, the loudest of which was for Leia and Luke, although when R2D2 sputtered to life the jubilation was pretty close!


After a short interval, where everyone’s tanks were refuelled, the orchestra opened with the iconic Rey theme, a masterfully quirky motif that repeats each time she appears in a scene. 


There was a standing ovation at the end of the movie which continued while the credits rolled and the QSO played on. They finished with the full seven-minute credits score, culminating in the brass-busting Star Wars motif to end the concert on a massive high.

The unique immersive Star Wars experience was incredible, with the iconic music of John Williams played live by the brilliant Queensland Symphony Orchestra, who truly are strong in the Force!


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