Review: Star Trek Into Darkness: Live in Concert

Star Trek LiveRoyal Albert Hall, May 30, 2014

The second of the rebooted Star Trek films with a live score from the 21st Century Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Ludwig Wicki.

One of my favourite parts of covering the making of films and TV shows has been following the scoring of the music, whether it’s interviewing the composers, or, from time to time, attending the sessions where the music is laid down. Stretching back to Robert Holmes’ The Nightmare Man and the long-forgotten futurist thriller A Spy at Evening back in1980/81, sitting in the booth watching an orchestra pull together a score has always been fascinating. Click tracks (a metronome beat carried over headphones so the orchestra plays together) and a large screen showing the footage that’s being underscored all featured, and the conductor would take the time necessary to get the music fitting exactly.

Ludwig Wicki conducted the 21st Century Symphony Orchestra and Chorus last night through every single cue from Star Trek Into Darkness – over 50 of them – bringing them in precisely on time, and hitting all the points that Michael Giacchino had written for. Scoring for movies often involves mixed time signatures, particularly in fast action sequences, and Wicki made it almost seem effortless – but was quite rightly applauded with a standing ovation at the end, as well as receiving appreciative clapping at the end of key sequences (such as “Pranking the Natives” at the start of the film, and Khan and Kirk’s jump between ships).

Giacchino’s full score for Into Darkness hasn’t been released (yet – on the basis of last night, it had definitely better be coming!) so there were many tracks which weren’t as familiar as those from the first movie.

ST Into DarknessThe Royal Albert Hall did the musicians proud, presenting the film on a huge screen, sensibly including the English subtitles – there were moments when the music did overwhelm the dialogue, which, in this sort of performance, is exactly as it should be.

Giacchino introduced the evening, and rounded it off with a performance of one of the cues from his upcoming score for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – with five percussion players ending their evening with a huge amount of work to do.

The audience – with a good sprinkling of Trek fans and film score buffs – clearly enjoyed it, with the appearance of Leonard Nimoy and the Enterprise above San Francisco gaining huge cheers. There was also (possibly for the first time ever) a cheer when “John Harrison” revealed his real identity…

Wicki and the orchestra were the stars of the evening, and even if you don’t rate Into Darkness as a Trek film (as many don’t), this is well worth getting to see for the sheer excitement of hearing the cues played live.

Paul Simpson


One thought on “Review: Star Trek Into Darkness: Live in Concert

  1. I found some videos of Star Trek live and Planet of the Apes:

    Posted by Star Trek Fan | May 31, 2014, 1:45 pm

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