West Australian Symphony Orchestra Plays Star Wars: Benjamin Northey Conducts The Empire Strikes Back

'The Empire Strikes Back' 'The Empire Strikes Back'

“No... I am your father.”


The sheer force (pun intended) of the 'Star Wars' franchise is pushed to higher extremes by its stunning score, crafted by John Williams. In this two-day experience, West Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO) presents the music of 'The Empire Strikes Back' as the film plays on a giant screen behind them.

Relive all the great moments of this film in a brand new way, as the music takes a front seat and a live orchestra recreates the magic.

Here, Conductor Benjamin Northey talks about the shows.

What is it about 'Star Wars' that so many people love?
I think it’s the sheer originality of the premise and the timelessness of the good vs evil struggle. For music lovers above all it’s the incredible quality of the John Williams score which was a landmark in 20th century music.

Do you have any personally fond memories of the franchise?
I’m old enough to have seen all of these films at the cinema as a kid when they first came out. It’s hard to explain the impact, it was like entering a new world.

What excites you about conducting the music from 'The Empire Strikes Back’?
I think this is the best of all the 'Star Wars' movies, and has the best music. It’s a huge play for the orchestra and tests everybody. The difficulty is what makes it so rewarding.

Is there a certain art to conducting? What makes someone a good conductor?
Yes conducting is an art form which must be studied and practised. Some people are naturally suited to it, they usually have first-class musical skills and are able to work well with people. The best conductors inspire the musicians in front of them and bring out their best.


And what do you love about conducting?
Everything really, the contact with such talented musicians, the immersion into the world of the composers, the humanity of the orchestra and its emotional power and impact.  
 
Is there any common misconceptions you hear about it that you'd like to debunk?
People think conducting is about control, whereas the truth is it’s more collaborative than that.

Which is your favourite piece of music from the score of this film, and why?
Well nothing makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck like the opening title of 'Star Wars'! But in 'The Empire Strikes Back' we also hear the famous 'Imperial March' for the first time which is truly terrifying!  

For you, what makes music from a film different from your average orchestra pieces?
Nothing really, much music we perform was originally written for ballet, it’s the same. Some of it is so good it stands alone. I guess the important thing about film music is that it is well known to the audience before they turn up. The best of it is as good as any traditional symphonic music we play.

How would you describe the music from this film in three words.
Epic, wondrous, magical.

WASO plays 'Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back – In Concert' on 6-7 September at Riverside Theatre.

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