Philharmonia At The Movies: Beam Me Up Barry!

Barry Norman

Our host for the evening, film legend Barry Norman.

This season sees the opening of a new series by the Philharmonia Orchestra: Philharmonia At The Movies. On Friday 21 November we will be bringing you the soundtrack to some of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time.

We are lucky to have the fabulous presenter and film critic, Barry Norman, well known for hosting BBC 1’s Film programme, presenting programmes on BBC radio, and as a columnist for The Radio Times. You may have even seen our interview with him on BBC South East earlier this month, but if not, we can promise you that with Barry’s wit, charm and anecdotes a plenty, it’s going to be a great night out!

Leading the Orchestra, is young conductor James Shearman, who made his name orchestrating Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire (2005), Bridget Jones Diary (2001) and many more.

So let’s find out a little bit more about the great composers behind some of the most heard and well-known theme tunes of all time.

One of the most recognised names among these is of course John Williams, known for the scores of films such as Star Wars, Jurassic Park and the first three Harry Potter films. He has had a long association with director Steven Spielberg, composing the music for all but two of Spielberg’s major feature films. It’s hardly possible to hear the main theme of E.T. without picturing an alien on a flying bike silhouetted against the moon and as for the Star Wars theme, well nothing is more evocative of heroism or adventure.

E.T. Photo via Adventure Journal.

That moment in E.T. Photo via Adventure Journal.

Alan Silvestri, another American born composer and conductor who works primarily in film and television, is famous for penning the themes to Back To The Future and Predator. Silvestri, coming off the success of Back To The Future, was the only composer to have scored more than one film in either the Alien or Predator series and is well known for familiar musical description in his music; heavy horn blasts for dramatic effect, staccato string rhythms to build tension, and rippling timpani rolls to create suspense. He is a master at telling the audience the mood even before the scene has begun!

Hans Zimmer wrote the score for Inception, and features guitar, played by Johnny Marr, former guitarist of The Smiths. The main character, Cobb, is a thief who steals information from the subconscious but in doing this has given up everything he ever loved; Zimmer describes his score as very electronic and dense, trying to match Cobb’s feelings of nostalgia and sadness throughout the film. Zimmer integrated elements of Edith Piaf’s Non, je ne regrette rien into his score, in particular, the film’s iconic brass instrument fanfare resembles a slowed-down version of the song’s original sound.

Bringing it back across the pond is English composer and conductor of film music, John Barry, famous for the music of eleven of the James Bond films and Dances with Wolves. Barry counts Goldfinger (1964) as his personal favourite of all his 007 scores. The theme tune for You Only Live Twice, which we will hear on the night, was recorded by Nancy Sinatra, who was reported to be very nervous while recording and wanted to leave the studio as worried she sounded apparently so “like Minnie Mouse”. The final recording of this theme tune consists of 25 different takes!

So… not too much longer to wait now to be transported to a galaxy far, far away…


The Philharmonia Concert Season is supported by Pharon Independent Financial Advisers Limited.

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