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If It Sounds Good, It Is Good!


If It Sounds Good, It Is Good! - September 2015


Welcome back to the Pops’ 2015–16 season at Music Hall. It’s hard to believe, but this is my fifth season as conductor of your Cincinnati Pops, and it’s been 20 years since I first came to Cincinnati as Assistant Conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra back in 1995. Time sure flies when you’re having fun!

Perhaps the greatest musical legacy of the Pops is our commitment to the performance and recording of iconic film scores. Nearly half of the Pops’ 94 recordings have been devoted to film music; our recording legacy represents the cornerstone of our international reputation, with over 10 million recordings sold worldwide.

We open our season with a celebration of the cinematic score in two concert productions. On Friday and Sunday we present selections from The American Film Institute’s “25 Greatest Film Scores of All Time.” Although we have recorded just about all of these classics, it was surprising to discover a few gems we haven’t performed before that we will be presenting in these concerts. We will also showcase Cincinnati’s favorite film themes, as voted on by YOU over the summer via “brackets” on the Pops Facebook page.

One cannot underestimate the art of film scoring. Music creates a dramatic arc that gives a film its soul and deep emotional connection. The truly GREAT ones transport you to the dramatic epicenter of the films for which they were created, yet stand on their own as amazing, purely musical experiences. The first generation of great film composers came to the USA from Europe in the wake of the Second World War. Composers like Erich Korngold, Max Steiner and Miklós Rózsa found work taking their musical craft inherited from composers like Béla Bartók, Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler and weaving scores for Hollywood’s Golden Age. They are as beloved today for their film scores as they are for their strictly orchestral works (including symphonies and a couple of stunning violin concerti). In the mid-century, Maurice Jarre, Henry Mancini, Nino Rota, John Barry and Ennio Morricone brought a diverse and exotic sound world to their films. The legendary John Williams was influenced by many of the great romantic orchestral composers of the 19th and early 20th century, but also by the works of Korngold; Williams, in turn, has been very influential to the current generation of composers, including Howard Shore, Danny Elfman and Alan Silvestri.

On Saturday evening we perform the 30th Anniversary Edition of Back to the Future accompanied by the Pops performing Silvestri’s complete score along with the film. Silvestri has scored well over 100 films, including classics like The Abyss, The Bodyguard, Forrest Gump, The Polar Express, Captain America and The Avengers (both of which we recently recorded on Superheroes!), as well as music for all 13 episodes of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos (this one is drop-dead gorgeous). Performing a live score to film is a tricky endeavor, but a challenge the Pops has taken on more and more frequently. With digital video cueing and an audio click-track (think of it like an electronic metronome for the entire orchestra), we can synchronize over two hours of music and film to the millisecond. Phew!

Lights, camera, ACTION! Let the new Pops season begin!