The city of Luzern in Switzerland is one of the few european cities to have a specialized film music orchestra. It's called the 21st Century Orchestra and is conducted by Ludwig Wicki. The orchestra and its conductor have gained a strong reputation for their acclaimed performance of THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy scores played live to picture. In late 2011, their live recording of the LOTR symphony has been released on Howe Records, the Howard Shore label.
On the 2nd and 3rd March 2012, the orchestra, joined by a large mixed choir, gave 2 representations of suites and themes of Michael Giacchino's soundtracks. The american composer attended both concerts which took place in the beautiful KKL concert hall and started with a selection of his MEDAL OF HONOR music. Right from the beginning, the audience could hear what has been the constant of the programme: music played with high professionalism and true passion. High professionnalism because every aspect of the music benefited from a rigorous live rendition: every section of the orchestra was in place, with a special nod to the brasses and percussions, thanks to a very precise conducting. All the virtuosity and complexity of the composition and orchestration were here. The true passion comes from the generous and powerful playing of the musicians and the joy of its conductor to be on stage. When artists give all they have in their heart, the audience return the positive energy. Such was the case with strong and well deserved applauses beetween tracks.
The musical selection was the other force of these concerts. There was at least one theme or suite which represented all the genres have collaborated for: video game (MEDAL OF HONOR), action (MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 3 plus MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE GHOST PROTOCOL and SPEED RACER both played as encores), epic adventure (the end credits excerpts from JOHN CARTER), tv series (a suite from LOST), animated features (THE INCREDIBLES, RATATOUILLE, UP), fantastic/horror (CLOVERFIELD and LET ME IN) and science-fiction (SUPER 8, STAR TREK). The whole programme was perfectly balanced between agressive and lyrical moments, fear and joy, light and shadow, in fact, all the emotions that film music amateurs love to hear in Michael Giacchino's music. Emotion is one of the key word of his work. Giacchino isn't here to basically illustrate a picture; he always tries to express the point of view of the characters and their feelings in a particular scene. Besides the powerful playing, the emotions were vehicled by the orchestra and choir.
The "Roar!" from CLOVERFIELD and the STAR TREK suite were the highlights of these great concerts. The former was played in its entirety (more than 12 minutes) while the latter was a perfect representation of a solid sci-fi score. (even the ehru employed for scenes with Spock was included in the ensemble). Both benefited from an in-your-face performance of the orchestra and choir. These tour de force prove that film music played live can generate a high level of energy and sensations, equal to those of rock or heavy metal. There's no drum machine, no guitar riffs (except on SPEED RACER), no vocal growls but believe it: a full orchestra augmented by a large choir can make as much noise and gives as much power as a rock or metal band.
In conclusion, it was a moment of the highest musical quality which payed tribute to one of the most promising film music composer working nowadays in Hollywood. Thanks must be given to Michael Giacchino for having assembled a strong selection of his work, and to the 21st Century Orchestra and Choir and conductor Ludwig Wicki for their brillant performance during more than 2 hours.
But it is not finished: the saturday concert was followed by a LOST recital performed by a 45 piece 21st Century Orchestra also conducted by Ludwig Wicki. As for the previous programme, the 1 hour selection represented a nice balance between moving pieces for strings and piano and harsh moments for brass and percussions. During the pauses, Michael Giacchino was on stage and read some letters written by the series characters. This unsual assembly of music and lecture gave the concert its spirit of solemnity, intimacy and suspense. The reduced orchestra delivered a nice interpretation and the audience discovered the music composer is also a good narrator. At the end of the recital, an exhausted but satisfied Ludwig Wicki gave the baton to Michael Giacchino who conducted the encore, applaused by joyful musicians and audience.
STORIES OF ISLANDS, BALLOONS AND SPACE SET LIST
21st Century Orchestra and Choir conducted by Ludwig Wicki
- MEDAL OF HONOR: Suite
- MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 3: Humpty Dumpty Sat on a Wall/See You in the Sewer/Schifrin and Variations
- CLOVERFIELD: Roar! (End Credits) (full version)
- SUPER 8: Suite
- RATATOUILLE: Suite
- THE INCREDIBLES: The Incredits
- UP: Carl Goes Up/Escape from Muntz Mountain/Memories Can Weigh You Down/Up With End Credits
- LET ME IN: End Credits
- LOST: Suite
- JOHN CARTER: End Credits (Parts 1, 4 & 5)
- STAR TREK: Enterprising Young Men/Nero Death Experience/That New Car Smell/End Credits
- SPEED RACER: Main Theme
- MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE GHOST PROTOCOL: Suite
LOST IN CONCERT SET LIST
21st Century Orchestra conducted by Ludwig Wicki
Hollywood and Vines
The Temple of Boom
Life and Death
The Tangled Web
Life and Death (conducted by Michael Giacchino)