A Date with Mum
On the 24th April, I took my mum to watch the John Williams Extravaganza SSO concert. My mum has loved orchestra music for years, and it was she who got me interested in watching a live performance of the SSO at the Victoria Concert Hall about twenty years ago. It felt good to relive that experience years later.
We all know that Episode VII is coming. It is so huge in fact, that people often forget that Jurassic World precedes it by about six months.
Both of these movie franchises feature the music of John Williams, surely one of the most iconic composers of our time. The attitude of highbrow snobs aside, popular music does move and does involve real knowledge and artistry, and as such I have always been able to enjoy it for its own sake.
Add to that the purpose of movie soundtracks, which is to rekindle the feelings we had not just of the movie itself, but also memories of when we watched it, who we watched it with, and why that might have been special. First date, anybody?
Jurassic Park was the very last movie we watched as a family. That was before other things just happened, including branching directions for both brothers, different life stresses, responsibilities and demands. Different choices. But I’ve always wanted to capture an experience like that again, with the whole family. I remember the collective wonder we felt when the Brachiosaurus first appeared. The soundtrack that played at that moment still echoes in my head 22 years later.
These days, it seems like the trend for younger people to hang out only with their own groups, and being seen with family often has an uncool factor to it.
But why should that be?
Let’s see what our parents have given us.
Unconditional love. An education. A framework of behavior. A foundation of thought.
So yes, as we get a bit older, maybe we change, we deviate from that framework, we modify some aspects of it, and we reject other elements.
That is natural; it is how we become our own man or gal. But that doesn’t devalue what our parents tried to do. Hey, parenting is a skill too, there are beginners and there are mistakes. So we can admire them all the more for it.
Recently a friend of mine posted a picture of her and her mother on a movie date and it really made my day. This is a girl who’s a good ten years younger than me, at a stage where that uncoolness might be a greater factor, and on a Saturday which would have been a precious date night. But she never forgot what was important and unabashedly put it up on Facebook for all to see. Good on her!
The concert itself: fantastic! Even if Mum hadn’t been there, it would have been enjoyable in its own right. The SSO improves each time I listen to it, and it’s a good sign that it is maturing. Conductor Jason Lai was a great MC, prefacing each major segment with an informative, and often humourous, introduction about the music and the background behind the original recordings. I think that’s what symphonic orchestras need in modern times, a way to engage everybody, with or without a classical music background, to create a bridge and get people interested enough to discover the classical master works. What we don’t need is condescension or snootiness, because music moves everybody.
Some may argue that something is lost when one moves to engage the masses as opposed to catering to an elite few. Indeed, there are many aficionados who probably stayed home, on the principle that commercial music diminishes the prestige associated with a symphonic orchestra while pandering to the masses. I say, the more seats for the rest of us who are more cut from the common cloth, and a lot less tight-assed.
The second in a series of John Williams concerts, some of the songs played then were not repeated here. A pity, as I would not have minded hearing the Superman March and the Star Wars theme. But pieces like Princess Leia’s Theme were a reminder that there is still plenty to draw from the anthology of iconic music that is the Star Wars soundtrack. The only mild disappointment was Duel of the Fates. Something just isn’t complete with the chorus singing “Kora Rahtahmah!”. But to balance this out, there was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to take away from The Imperial March. This is surely one of the most powerful, rousing and recognizable themes in the Star Wars Universe.
It was fitting for me that the last composition played was the theme from Jurassic Park, and that Jurassic World, in a nice turn of symmetry, will be the movie I hope to get the whole family together in a cinema again.
All in all, a happy and fulfilling experience that satisfied me for the many feelings and associations it aroused!