25 Jul 2018

NZSO gets its geek on with Comic Con

From Upbeat, 1:00 pm on 25 July 2018

Sci-fans, Trekkies, Alien enthusiasts and Gamers – this is for you!

Brush up your cos-play and prepare yourself for tonight when the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra celebrates science fiction, fantasy, pop culture and graphic novels, with music from TV, films and games.

Star Trek

Star Trek Photo: Wikipedia

Many of us might feel classical music isn’t for us, but as Australian conductor and composer Gordon Hamilton points out, it’s in our lives almost every day.

“People who think they don’t like an orchestra or have never thought about going along to hear one… they don’t realize they love orchestras,” he says. “They experience orchestras on films, on TV, video games and that experience of the orchestra is just as valid as sitting in a concert listening to Brahms.

“I do believe in the orchestra’s ability to kick ass. Nobody can be in a concert faced with an orchestra and not be impressed. It’s so cool all these musicians in front of you, playing their hearts out and playing their instruments so well.”

No caption

Photo: HBO

This week the audience, who is encouraged to dress up as their favourite character, will hear music from TV show Game of Thrones, and games including Super Mario Bros Theme, The Legend of Zelda, Sonic Hedgehog, Grand Theft Auto, Assassins Creed and Uncharted.

Music from blockbuster films Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Spider-Man, Stargate and Star Trek.

Hamilton says he enjoys this music because of the emotional connection people make with it.I love how screen music is just about mood; the feeling the sound produces. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at scores [and] it looks so simple… then I hear it I think ‘that’s what it means’. It’s a beautiful moment.

Lovers of screen music often talk about mood. They are very aware of how it corresponds to what’s happening on screen,” he says. “I find we sometimes overlook it in the classical world because we are so interested in light motifs and structure and the architecture of the piece of music.”

No caption

Photo: Commons

While this programme isn’t your typical classical repertoire it still has validity. Many composers of the screen draw inspiration from the greats.

You can hear the influence of those greats in some of the compositions being performed by the NZSO this weekend. Hamilton says in the Aliens score you can hear flurries of Shostakovich and Stravinsky.

“All composers steal!” he laughs. “You often hear in film music the influence of composers from 40, 50 or 100 years earlier.”

Hamilton is the same. “I love conducting because I get to know lots of cool repertoire and steal little bits for my compositions,” he says. “I mine [screen music] for cool and interesting effects.”

Cantina band cosplayers

While the orchestra is busy preparing to play, the musicians are also working hard on their costumes. “The word got out they were allowed to [dress up]. Different sections of the orchestra are putting in a lot of effort!” Hamilton says. Photo: Public Domain

And what will he be wearing? You’ll just have to turn up on the night to find out.

The Music of Comic Con presented by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Gordon Hamilton is on at the Auckland Town Hall, 7.30 Friday 27 July.