Orchestra performs 'Star Wars' music live during movie showing at Lincoln Center

Wednesday, September 27, 2017 05:11PM
Sandy Kenyon has more on the Star Wars-themed performance.


UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan - For fans of the "Star Wars" movies, this is a big treat! It's the chance to hear the score of each film performed live by The New York Philharmonic while the movie plays on a big screen above the orchestra.

I was at David Geffen Hall on Manhattan's Upper West Side for Tuesday night's special event that had characters like R2-D2 greeting kids in the lobby before the concert hall came alive with the "Star Wars" theme.

Conductor David Newman told me, "'Star Wars' completely changed film music."

And, he ought to know. He's the son of famed, film composer Alfred Newman and the cousin of rock star Randy Newman. He has written music for more than 100 feature films, most recently: the hit comedy "Girls Trip."

Speaking before the show in his dressing room, Newman told me, "The whole 'Star Wars' saga is kind of unique because of the themes that are in it and how much it's part of the fabric of the movie."

He spoke a couple of hours before taking the podium to conduct John Williams' score for "The Empire Strikes Back."

To really see the magic of this, watch the video! Newman explains the unique presentation this way: "The audience watches the film. They hear the dialogue, the sound effects: the whole film as if they were in a movie theater. They're just in a hall, and we have muted the underscore music, John William's music so we can play it live."

The trick is to synchronize music to the picture while playing live for more than two hours! He uses a technique developed by his father during Hollywood's Golden Age. It is distinctly analog in that he relies on marks on each page of sheet music. Film scoring is highly technical and developed over decades, but he says starting in the late 1970s, the "Star Wars" movies took the craft to a new level.

Newman explains that "without the music, the character development doesn't take you on this journey that it does when you watch the movie with everything in it."

Tickets are still available for similar presentations for other movies in the series. Tickets are still available for "Return Of The Jedi" next Wednesday (Oct. 4) and Thursday (Oct. 5).

"The Force Awakens" will be performed in this manner Saturday, Oct. 6 and Sunday Oct. 7.

Here's a list of scheduled performances:

* 9/26/2017 - 7:30 PM - David Newman, conductor | Star Wars - Film Concert Series, The Empire Strikes Back
* 9/27/2017 - 7:30 PM - David Newman, conductor | Star Wars - Film Concert Series, The Empire Strikes Back
* 9/28/2017 - 7:30 PM - David Newman, conductor | Star Wars - Film Concert Series, The Empire Strikes Back
* 10/4/2017 - 7:30 PM - David Newman, conductor | Star Wars - Film Concert Series, Return of the Jedi
* 10/5/2017 - 7:30 PM - David Newman, conductor | Star Wars - Film Concert Series, Return of the Jedi
* 10/6/2017 - 8:00 PM - David Newman, conductor | Star Wars - Film Concert Series, The Force Awakens
* 10/7/2017 - 8:00 PM - David Newman, conductor | Star Wars - Film Concert Series, The Force Awakens

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