BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — As any cinephile can tell you, the soundtrack of a movie can be one of the most important parts of it. From the swelling orchestral theme of Star Wars to hit songs that just happen to fit the theme of a film perfectly, a movie can live or die on the sounds that it chooses to accompany the actors and scenes. And while the soundtracks to many films don’t get referenced as much, some have gone down in history as iconic pieces of music (like the works of John Williams), or even been responsible for propelling older hit songs into the modern age (like the 60s, 70s, and 80s songs that saw new life as part of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie soundtracks).
At times, original film soundtracks can be incredible in both quality and scale, and eventually gain reputations of their own as musical masterpieces. It’s these unique pieces of cinema sound that the Bismarck-Mandan Symphony Orchestra aims to portray during their annual “Take Us Away” concert — where the silver screen and sound stage come together.
During the yearly event, both experienced performers and student musicians gather at the Belle Mehus Auditorium for two evening shows in which they offer their classical takes on revered movie soundtracks, from entire pieces to medlies of the greatest musical shows of all time. Why choose to adapt these pieces? The show’s conductor offered an explanation that’s rooted in emotion and nostalgia.
While many of us feel different things when listening to music, the same emotional response can be seen when we watch movies. Combining the two, to many means an elevated experience that brings all of these feelings to the surface.
“I think people love to hear music that’s familiar to them,” says the Orchestra’s Conductor and Music Director Dr. Beverly Everett, “and I believe that movie music is some of the most powerful music that we have. It brings up those memories of having seen those movies, and the feeling that those produce as well.”
Throughout the concert, Everett guided performers in string, brass, woodwind, and percussion sections through some of the most famous songs from the history of film — including John Williams’s work from Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, and E.T, songs from animated classics like The Lion King and How to Train Your Dragon, and even selections from full musicals like Les Miserables. These, however, weren’t the most surprising entries into the evening’s list of selections.
Of every song that would receive an orchestral treatment, a song like ‘Danger Zone’ from the action classic Top Gun certainly isn’t anywhere many of us would expect to be on the list. But, surprisingly, there is one, and it’s an original creation from a member of the orchestra.
When Everett stated that she originally wanted to play Danger Zone, but could not find a proper rendition to adapt, one trumpet player took matters into his own hands and write it himself. Abelardo Flores spent less than a week on the composition but transplanted the song into an orchestra piece flawlessly, debuting it to massive success on Friday evening. This new rendition is a testament to not only the ingenuity of musicians but their devotion to the art as a whole. Indeed, it’s this idea of the power of music that some say keeps them on stage and working as a group.
“My favorite part of all of this is the tremendous players,” stated Tom Weigel, a board member and upright bass plater for the Bismarck-Mandan Symphony Orchestra. “Each instrument has its unique feature, and the people playing these instruments are really great musicians. I’m just so honored to be playing with them.”
Take Us Away finished its final show on Saturday evening, but there are plenty of shows and programs lined up for 2023. To view more from the Bismarck-Mandan Symphony Orchestra, visit this page.