Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Snark Trek: A Musical Journey

The 501st.As I mentioned last week, Church and the GF took in a bit of culture on Saturday as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra presented its Sci-Fi Spectacular. Not only was this event resplendent with reimaginings of the music from some of everyone's favorite sci-fi and fantasy franchises, but it was also narrated by Sulu – or, if you prefer, Kaito Nakamura – himself, George Takei.

In the grand tradition of Church doing my work for me, he was nice enough to share their impressions of the event: the good, the bad, and the snarky. He also included some pictures, which, I am assured, are worth several thousand words.

Read on to find out exactly how much the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall looks like the Imperial Senate, how severely the venue gouges thirsty patrons for a glass of wine, and who hasn’t seen E.T. (Hint: It ain’t Church.)


Sci-Fi Spectacular with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at the Meyerhoff, 2008-01-19:
Jack Everly, Principal Pops Conductor
George Takei, Sulu
Mike Eldred, Broadway Guy
Kristen Plumley, Vocalist Girl
Old Line Garrison, 501st Legion, Security

Sad commentary on the times: we were running late (GF's fault) and split up to do coat-check and find our seats. The GF got confused and asked someone in uniform if they worked there, only to realize that it was a Death Star Officer. Perhaps appropriate, since we realized that the interior of the Meyerhoff somewhat resembles the Imperial Senate.


Main Star Wars Theme
As we were running late, we had to wait outside while this played. I've heard it at a bunch of Pops concerts while, oddly, the GF never had. It's the Star Wars theme. 'nuff said.

Lost in Syndication (Various TV Themes)
A medley including Space 1999, BSG, and The Jetsons theme. If you haven't heard The Jetsons arranged for Symphony and Choir, you haven't heard it. Kudos for not being snarky about it. It's so much more decadent to hear it straight. Also, first violin was cool. He was very much into playing this (which I guess is why he's first violin.) The GF was impressed by the Outer Limits closing theme. They took all the pathos and creepiness of the Outer Limits and channeled it through the string section. The Stargate theme is even awesomer live. John Williams-esque, but without the conceits. The GF thought they also included some incidental SG-1 music.

Adventures on Earth: ET the Extra Terestrial
The GF has never seen this movie. (So she's the one.) Music was OK. Not my fave.

Superman March
Broadway guy sang ret-conned lyrics. Interesting, because this version of the lyrics was from Supes' perspective (it's usually from Lois'.) I thought he was starting meekly and then growing into the part. The GF thought he was out of tune, but then found his way. She's probably right.

Star Trek through the Years.
Introduced by Takei, who cruelly teased us by introducing a 'lieutenant' who turned out *not* to be Nichelle, but the vocalist girl in a red TOS uniform. This show opened in Bethesda (Rockville, really) and they apparently weren't aware that they weren't in Baltimore, so they had acted as if they were. Hat tip to them for not only owning up to it, but making it part of the act (they blamed it on faulty transporter coordinates.)

Thank fraking gods they didn't do the Roddenberry lyrics to the original theme. I was really worried about that. Nope, vocalist girl did a bang up AHHHHHH-AHHH job. They fucked up the DS-9 theme (or, arranger Calvin Custer did.) There's a chord change in the first half that was missed, according to the GF. I'm no musician but I noticed it too. It's the part that really grabs you.

I got some pix of the 501st while the GF got some wine. Unfortunately, getting a seven dollar glass of Gallo took the entirety of Intermission so we waited outside during:

Theme from 2001 ("Also Sprach Zarathustra")
The GF thought that there were more interesting parts of that score that they could have done, but I reminded her that it was a Pops concert, and Pops is short for Popular.

A veritable nerd herd.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Nice, although the GF missed the Mashed Potatoes theme, while I wanted a bigger 5-note theme. (Take note, Jack.)

Enterprise Theme
Sung by Broadway Guy.
I hated it.
The GF loved it.

Hedwig's Flight

Awesome. We're not sure what the dinky-piano is (I had always thought it was a glockenspiel or something) but we love that they used it.

About here (it's not in the program notes) they broke into "When You Wish Upon A Star" which was a bit odd. Probably because it gave the vocalists something to do.

Somewhere in Time
Nice and lush. More typical of a Hollywood score than most of the rest of the concert, but that's not a criticism. As the GF says, it *could* have been the theme to Dr. Zhivago; it's not as obviously a genre piece.

The Day The Earth Stood Still Suite
Absolutely the opposite of the previous piece. Genre to its pointy ears, although it was rescored by conductor, so the strings were standing in for theremins. It worked really well. The vocalist was contributing to some parts, oddly stationed behind the percussionists. Takei contributed the closing speech by Klaatu, in that singular Takei way. Also, Bernard Hermann was the shit.

Duel of the Fates/The Throne Room/End Credits (Star Wars I and IV)
John Williams goes Choral! Huzzah! This was the best use of the lasers in the show. It made me realize how hard it is to pull off a laser show (for people who aren't stoned.) They are by nature very binary, while music is usually not.

Not Laser FLoyd.

Inevitable gripes: No Firefly? C'mon! If you can rearrange The Day The Earth Stood Still, you can rearrange that. No "Imperial March"? The 501st is in the Fraking Lobby!! How cool would it have been to end playing that with them marching down the aisle? (Very cool is the answer.)

I wanted to chat with the 501st afterwards, but they were trying to clear out the place (I'm guessing people don't normally hang out in the lobby after a concert.) They had to limit 'getting picture taken with' opportunities to staff at that point.

All in all, a very fun concert. We were seriously considering going back to see the Sunday show, but those tickets weren't cheap (or readily available.)



Church said...

Also, the Old Line Garrison's logo looks a hell of a lot like an Iron Maiden cover art. Unfortunately, I can't find the cover (I'm thinking it was a single or something.)

Z. said...

The 501st is mad prolific. I swear I see those cats everywhere!

TK9582 said...


Thanks for the kind words. The troopers of the Old Line were proud to participate at this event. We are glad you enjoyed it.

Our logo is indeed an homage to Eddy, Iron Maiden's mascot. Good eye!

Best regards,
Clark Oliver TK9582
Public Relations Officer
Old Line Garrison
501st Legion

Z. said...

Watch out, Church, it's the 501st. hide the droids! ;)

Church said...

These are not the droids they're looking for.