Adelaide Symphony Orchestra Viola Player Michael Robertson Shares His Connection To Star Wars

Published in Arts  
'The Empire Strikes Back' 'The Empire Strikes Back'

This May, the force will be strong in Adelaide.


Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (ASO) will come together on the day known worldwide as 'Star Wars' day (May The Fourth... Obviously!) to play music from 'The Empire Strikes Back' in full as the film plays on a screen above.

Here, ASO viola player Michael Robertson answers some questions about 'Star Wars' and the performance coming up in May.

What are you looking forward to about playing this show for Adelaide?

It’s my favourite of the 'Star Wars' movies and to perform it in front of a 5,000 strong audience will be amazing.

Do you have any personal ties with 'Star Wars'?

I grew up watching the movies, playing with figurines and pretending sticks were lightsabers. For my 30th birthday, my beautiful wife bought me the Millennium Falcon model that I intensely desired as a child but could never afford. I was too young to see the first two movies at the cinema, but I do remember being incredibly excited when they were shown on TV. My children enjoy 'Star Wars' but are not quite as enthusiastic as me. I think that is probably because when I was a child 'Star Wars' was the first major film franchise with toys, figurines, audiobooks, clothes etc, while now so many movies are like that. Also, nostalgia plays a large part of my enjoyment of the films now.

What stands out in the music of this film for you?

I love John Williams' score so much because he has cleverly brought together the styles of superb composers such as Holst, Stravinsky and Wagner.   Also like a Wagnerian opera he gives characters musical themes, which enhances your connection with them and their path through the drama. Who can forget when Darth Vader enters the Rebel Base on the ice planet of Hoth to the menacing music of the 'Imperial March' – chilling. Or the music when Hans get frozen, the love theme for Princess Leia and Hans Solo is also incredibly moving.


Why do you think 'Star Wars' has such a legacy and still continues to be successful after all these years?

The movies all have strong stories behind them and so many people saw them in their formative years the movies are like modern day fairy tales, good conquering over evil.

What do you love about movie scores in general?

I love the extra dimension that the music brings to film, it really brings it to life. It adds depth and all the emotion to the drama that is being told on screen. Try watching a movie without any music and it doesn’t work. Imagine 'Jaws' without the menacing sound of the shark throb.

And on a broader scale, what do you love about performing music to an audience?

I enjoy communicating and sharing wonderful music with fellow human beings and hopefully they feel my passion and personal enjoyment that I get out of playing music. Concerts are an opportunity that people can be transported to wherever their imagination and the music takes them.


What got you into playing music in an orchestra?

I was fortunate to grow up in a musical household, my mother was a music teacher and instilled in me a love of classical music from a very early age.

If you could pick any film to play music from, which film would it be?

'The Empire Strikes Back' of course! This is the pinnacle of all the 'Star Wars' scores – dark and brooding and I can’t wait to play it on May The Fourth... International 'Star Wars' Day.

If you could play any other instrument, which would you pick?

As a child I always wanted to play the cello but we thought it would be hard to carry on the bus, hence the viola!

Adelaide Symphony Orchestra play 'Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back' on 4 May at Adelaide Entertainment Centre.

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