Saturday 19th November 2016

Tonight's concert starts with John Williams Suite from Star Wars. Star Wars was released in 1977 by 20th Century Fox and became a worldwide sensation, starting a series of films that continues today. While it is one of the most successful film franchises ever, it also signalled the start of the revival of grand symphonic scores for the movies, and John Williams decided early on to emulate a technique that Richard Wagner favoured - creating a phrase or melody that signifies each character, plot device, mood or location throughout all of the films in the series. There are five pieces in the suite and the main theme is associated with Luke Skywalker, the hero of the saga. The second is for Princess Leia, the lush orchestration expressing her vulnerability along with her independence. The Imperial March is the third theme, representing the sinister villain Darth Vader and his stronghold over the Galactic Empire. As a contrast, the next theme is the more gentle Yoda's Theme. The Throne Room is the final movement, bringing the suite to a triumphant conclusion.

Our second work tonight is the Planets Suite by Gustav Holst. Written between 1914 and 1916, this huge orchestral suite represents seven planets and the astrological and psychological associations they present in Greek mythology. Pluto is not represented as it had yet to be discovered when the piece was written, and with the exception of the first two movements, the order of the rest of the movements corresponds to the increasing distance of the planets to Earth. Mars is the first to be represented, as "The Bringer of War", the pulsing, relentless music creating an impression of brutal conflict. Venus follows as "The Bringer of Peace". This is the Venus of ancient Rome, a nymph of gardens and flowers and she provides the peaceful counterpoint to the unshackled violence of Mars. Mercury "The Winged Messenger" follows. Fleet-footed Mercury flits around, bringing a new energy, leading us nicely on to Jupiter, "The Bringer of Jollity". Jupiter has no thunderbolts to hurtle down on us, but a series of knowing smiles and a wink or two for the ladies. He chases, but doesn't quite catch his beauties, inviting them to dance with him in a series of cavorting and twirling moves. The final celebratory hymns include the slow melody that has become one of our best loved hymns "I vow to thee, my country". Saturn follows, "The Bringer of Old Age". Holst's favourite movement is serene and deliberate, and leads us on to Uranus "The Magician" with his clashing march of brass and percussion. Neptune "The Mystic" is the last movement, with quiet and contemplative themes rising chromatically with orchestra and a wordless, off-stage choir leading us into an endless void of space. There is no denying that this remains one of Holst's most memorable works that speaks in a profound way to listeners of every age.

Our final piece is Symphonic Dances from West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein. A modern, big-city adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story moves the tragic story of two lovers to the west side of Manhatten with a portrayal of rival gangs the Jets (streetwise white New York teenagers) and the Sharks (tough Puerto Rican immigrants). In 1960 Bernstein drew together some of the musical's most famous songs and themes into this orchestral suite. Notable for it's dance rhythms and jazz syncopations, the Suite opens with the prologue and confrontation between the Jets and the Sharks. The haunting strains of "Somewhere", the dream of a better life contrasting with the fiery Latin dances of the "Mambo" and "Cha-cha". The fugue features a 12-tone scale leading into the final, deadly fight between the gangs in "Rumble" and a solo flute plays "I Had a Love" to bring the suite to a close.

Concert Details

Date: Saturday 19th November, 2016
Time: 7.30pm

Venue: Victoria Rooms, Clifton, Bristol. Click here for a map.

  • Holst - Planets Suite
  • John Williams - Star Wars
  • Bernstein - Symphonic Dances from West Side Story

Conductor: Jonathan Lo
Leader: Mark Bunker


Tickets will be available online shortly. Tickets will also be available on the door (CASH ONLY).

The ticket prices are:

  • £15 (£13 concessions) balcony
  • £11 adults (£9 concessions) stalls
  • £5 students
  • £2 children/school parties

Pre-concert talk:
There will be a free pre-concert talk at 6.45 p.m and we hope to include a portable Planetarium which will give the whole family a greater insight into our space-themed programme of music!

Saturday 19 November, 2016 - Victoria Rooms

Family Concert:

  • John Williams - Star Wars
  • Holst - Planets Suite
  • Bernstein - Symphonic Dances from West Side Story

Conductor: Jonathan Lo

Saturday 18 March, 2017 - Victoria Rooms

Programme to include:

  • Tchaikovsky - Symphony No 6

Saturday 20 May, 2017 - Clifton Cathedral

Programme to be confirmed

Saturday 14 October, 2017 - Victoria Rooms

Programme to include:

  • Walton - Cello Concerto

Saturday 18 November, 2017 - Victoria Rooms

Family Concert for all ages!

Musical Director
Jonathan Lo

Mark Bunker

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