NOTES: The New York Pops does Blockbuster film scores
Since the 1930s, film scores have become a prodigious source of popular orchestral music in America. Tonight at Carnegie Hall, the New York Pops closed out its 35th season with a concert featuring a selection of blockbuster film scores curated by music director and conductor Steven Reinke.
After opening with Richard Whiting’s iconic “Hooray for Hollywood” (best known as the theme for the Academy Awards) from the 1937 Busby Berkeley film “Hollywood Hotel”, act one of the program featured a selection of classic cuts from Max Steiner’s haunting melody of “Tara’s Theme” from “Gone with the Wind” (1939) to Bernard Hermann’s (literally) haunting and hair-raising, strings-only score from “Psycho” (1960), and Maurice Jarre’s lush, percussive theme from “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962). Offerings from Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Michel Legrand, Francis Lai, Ennio Morricone, and Henry Mancini rounded out the first half.
Moving on from classics of the past, act two featured selections from some the greatest composers working in film today: Danny Elfman, the late-James Horner, Alan Menken, Hans Zimmer, Howard Shore, Patrick Doyle, and Alan Silvestri. Divorced from their visual context, the epic scores of act two were given a rare chance to shine and be heard on their own terms. For this portion, Mr. Reinke elected to focus on films featuring heroes, and a suite from “Gladiator” (2000) and the theme from “The Avengers” (2012) proved to be highlights of the evening.
Noticeably absent from the program were any compositions from John Williams, the undisputed master of crafting iconic film scores popular in the pops repertoire. At the evening’s close, Mr. Reinke stated that choice was intentional, so as to give other composers the spotlight for a night. But, ever the popular orchestra, an encore performance of the theme from “Superman” (1978) by Mr. Williams ended the concert.