VOL. 131 | NO. 21 | Friday, January 29, 2016
50-Year Star Trek Voyage Docks at Orpheum
By Bill Dries
In the beginning there was Star Trek – a mid-1960s television series that didn’t make a five-year run ideal for syndication before it got cancelled. Then came a syndicated after-life anyway and five movies as well as four spin-off television series.
“Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage” features high definition film and television footage from the various Star Trek television series and movies with a live orchestra scoring the feature. The touring production is at the Orpheum Theatre Friday, Jan. 29.
The ongoing film and television franchise has created quite a body of music.
And the music covering 50 years is at the heart of a touring production that plays the Orpheum Theatre Friday, Jan. 29.
Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage features high definition film and TV footage on a 40-foot wide screen with the music, as played by a live orchestra, as the star of the production.
It’s the latest by CineConcerts, a company co-founded by conductor Justin Freer, who has led shows by symphony orchestras providing live soundtrack music to films including the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Godfather and Gladiator.
“There’s a lot of music that has never been heard before in public performance on this tour,” Freer said of the Star Trek catalogue. “A lot of it has never made soundtrack albums, records or CDs. It’s a really unique opportunity to hear something that people have literally never heard before outside of the shows themselves or the movies themselves.”
Freer and his production team reviewed 720 episodes of television as well as the Star Trek movies in finding the right blend of scenes and music.
“It was picking the right music and creating an emotional narrative, a flow, an arc that made sense from the beginning of the show to the end,” Freer added. “That’s where the real challenge kind of started.”
Freer also worked with the various composers who wrote themes for movies and the shows as well as musical pieces for particular scenes.
“When movies and music work together – they are married well together, it’s magical. … It really grabs you.”
“One of the things that kept popping out at me was just how well written these things were in such a fast amount of time,” he said. “These guys had to write … turn around things once every week or every other week.”
That also meant that when Freer found the sheet music or written scores, sometimes what was on the sheet wouldn’t match what was in the movie or television episode.
“In some cases, some of the episodes that we wanted to use the music for was completely missing,” he said. “We had to do a full restorative effort.”
That meant repeatedly listening and transcribing.
Freer’s orchestra for the national tour is a well-trained and rehearsed group at the center of a logistically challenging production because of its movement from city to city.
Memphis is one of 100 cities on the tour that began Jan. 15 in West Palm Beach, Florida, and ends May 5 in Houston.
Waiting in the wings is a CineConcerts adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the 1961 Audrey Hepburn classic that is a favorite of the Orpheum’s summer movie series in its traditional format. An adaptation of “Braveheart” also is on the calendar.
Freer said not every beloved movie has a great soundtrack and not every great soundtrack is matched with an equally compelling story.
A live orchestra’s presence also points to what Freer believes is the challenge those on the classical stage have in finding new ways to connect with audiences.
“When movies and music work together – they are married well together, it’s magical. You can’t explain what it does to you emotionally. … It really grabs you,” he said. “You realize just how much music can do for a film and the importance of it and why we use music in film and why we still are constantly challenged to come up with new and unique and fresh and better music. We are always evolving as an art form.”