Review: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – Hull City Hall


KCOM communications executive Ian Midgley reviews The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, playing the music of John Williams at Hull City Hall.

It’s the sight of giant grins that will provide the enduring memory.

Grins plastered across more than a thousand faces as The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra treated the Hull City Hall audience to the genius of composer John Williams – and arguably the greatest movies soundtracks ever written.

The smile on the face of the man sat next to me when the orchestra struck up with the Indiana Jones theme could’ve been seen from the depths of the Lost Ark itself.

Williams’ incredible back catalogue is second to none. Alongside the pugnacious military march of Indiana Jones, there’s the other-worldly scores from ET: the Extra Terrestrial, magical flights of fancy from Harry Potter and of, course, the greatest movie soundtrack of them all, Star Wars.

Williams’ music can rightfully claim to be the soundtrack of most of our lives; his compositions an integral part of the biggest movie franchises of the past half century.

Conducted with enthusiastic abandon by American baton twirler Robert Ziegler, the orchestra started with the soaring theme to the original Superman film – another of Williams’ instantly-recognisable tunes - before taking us on a soaring, sweeping journey through some of the biggest blockbusters in the history of the silver screen.

Jurassic Park. Home Alone. Jaws. The famous five-note refrain of Close Encounters.

The famous soundtracks tumbled one after another – interspersed by some of Williams’ sparser, less bombastic compositions taken from Schindler’s List and War Horse and given extra poignancy by the incredible talents of lead violinist Tomas Andras.

Hearing the tunes live, given raw power by a full orchestra that reverberates bass lines and soaring strings to your core, adds an extra dimension you don’t always get in the local multiplex, and the left the 1,200 capacity crowd enraptured.

For the finale the orchestra pulled out the big guns, treating us to not one but four pieces from Star Wars.

Starting with the delicate Rey’s Theme from The Force Awakens before moving into Leia’s Theme, given extra poignancy by the recent death of Carrie Fisher, the concert built to a bombastic finale with the main Star Wars theme before ending with Darth Vader’s signature tune straight from the dark side.

Judging by the standing ovation at the end the Force was definitely with Ziegler and his musicians.

Yes, the musicianship was incredible, the full power of the orchestra breath-taking and Williams’ music stirring – but a quick glance around the audience during the performance and there wasn’t bearing a person not beaming from ear to ear with toothy grins worthy of Jaws himself.

Picture credit: James Fountain

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