Proms on Four: The Film Music Prom BBC Proms


Proms on Four: The Film Music Prom

The BBC Concert Orchestra perform music from the movies, including Walton's score for Battle of Britain, David Arnold's Independence Day end titles and John Williams's Star Wars.


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Transcript


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So, you've bought your tickets for the cinema,

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the lights have gone down, and out of the darkness comes...

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..music.

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Almost every movie starts with music which gives us a tremendous

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amount of information about the film we're going to see.

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About its actions, its moods, its characters.

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And tonight we're going to here the best of it,

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courtesy of conductor Keith Lockhart and the BBC Concert Orchestra.

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Welcome to the Film Music Prom.

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This evening the great dome of the Royal Albert Hall

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will try to contain the sounds of Britain at War

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and the wonder, horror and mystery of outer space

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as we've heard them in so many classic movie soundtracks.

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I've always loved movie music,

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and it's a special privilege to hear it like this - in concert.

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To see how the orchestra's used

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and to relive the great moments of cinema.

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Film music is a persuasive sound that speaks to everybody.

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When we hear it we immediately understand what it's telling us,

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it helps us to believe in a story we don't know,

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or a fantasy setting we haven't seen before.

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We'll be treated to some all-time classic space movie soundtracks

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from Alien to Independence Day,

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to probably the best-known piece of film music ever,

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the suite from Star Wars.

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Before that, we celebrate the great works and composers

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of wartime Britain,

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including Richard Addinsell's

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marvellous Warsaw Concerto.

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During the Second World War and beyond,

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music was supporting strongly patriotic films

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that convinced British audiences to fight on against Hitler,

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or retrospectively glorified the exploits of the winning side.

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Coming up shortly, William Walton's music for Battle of Britain,

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a 1969 film depicting the heroic events of 1940.

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It's a score that was in fact rejected

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by the United Artists studio, supposedly for being too short,

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and a replacement - an excellent one, as it happens -

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commissioned from Ron Goodwin.

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But protests by the film's star Laurence Olivier

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meant that a couple of segments did eventually make it

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into the final cut.

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But we begin tonight's Prom

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with William Alwyn's march from The True Glory,

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a documentary feature directed by the great Carol Reed amongst others,

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and released in 1945 to mark the Allies' defeat of Germany.

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I don't seem to be able to remember anything but the French people.

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People beside the road, kids we couldn't stop to give candy to,

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FFI boys bringing in the Krauts from the fields,

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and farm workers waving as we went by.

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Alwyn composed over 70 film scores during the '40s and '50s

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including Odd Man Out and Desert Victory,

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but this march is inspired by his time working -

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along with other composers including William Walton and Vaughan Williams -

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for the British Army Film Unit, composing for propaganda films.

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It's stirring stuff.

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APPLAUSE

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So, conductor Keith Lockhart joins the BBC Concert Orchestra

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to kick off tonight's Film Music Prom at the Royal Albert Hall,

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with William Alwyn's march from The True Glory.

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APPLAUSE

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William Alwyn's march from The True Glory.

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Next up, William Walton's music originally intended

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as the soundtrack to the 1969 film Battle of Britain.

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APPLAUSE

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William Walton's original score for Battle of Britain.

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And yes, you did hear a cheeky quote from Wagner in there.

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Upon hearing the decision to drop Walton,

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Director Guy Hamilton had shouted,

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"Next you'll want Frank Sinatra to sing Spitfires In The Night!"

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And now, a complete change of mood - a piece that's an oasis of calm,

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if you like, amongst the sounds of war.

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Last year the great British composer Sir Richard Rodney Bennett

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died at his home in New York at the age of 76.

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He left behind him a body of work that is the envy of any composer -

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rich, challenging concert works, superb jazz compositions

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and over 50 scores for film and TV,

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three of which were nominated for Oscars.

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His superb period music for Murder on the Orient Express

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was played at the last Film Music Prom in 2011,

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but this time we turn to a score that is full of romantic yearning

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and warm, filmic breadth.

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Lady Caroline Lamb is a 1972 film written and directed by Robert Bolt,

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concerning the life of the notorious wife

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of Prime Minister Lord Melbourne,

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who counted Lord Byron amongst her many lovers.

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Sir Richard's music was critically acclaimed

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whilst the film itself was not, to say the least.

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And here to play the Elegy for Lady Caroline

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that Sir Richard Rodney Bennett created from the themes of the film,

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is viola soloist Lawrence Power with conductor Keith Lockhart.

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ORCHESTRA TUNES INSTRUMENTS

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APPLAUSE

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Richard Rodney Bennett's Elegy for Lady Caroline Lamb.

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The viola player was Lawrence Power.

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And that's the beauty of a concert like tonight's -

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the rediscovery of a great work for viola in its own right.

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Leighton Lucas was a British composer of film and concert works

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who was much admired by Benjamin Britten.

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he scored several war movies, and tonight we will hear the march

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he adapted from his score for 1958's Ice Cold in Alex.

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APPLAUSE

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Leighton Lucas's march from the soundtrack of Ice Cold in Alex.

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The suspenseful tone of the film's score

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breaking out into raucous celebration there, as the heroes,

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including John Mills and Sylvia Sims, outwit the Afrika Corps

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and finally approach the Ice Cold lager that awaits them in Alexandria.

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And so to our final piece of the first half,

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and a score that can claim to have done more than its fair share

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of propaganda work during the Second World War.

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Dangerous Moonlight was a hugely popular 1941 romantic weepy

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about a Polish concert pianist, played by Anton Walbrook,

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who joins the RAF and is wounded in action.

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PIANO CONCERTO PLAYS

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It's not safe to be out alone when the moon is so bright.

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Can someone tell that to those Germans up there?

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They couldn't have heard you.

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Oh, them? They never fly alone.

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Come in, please. Close the door.

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What raised the film above the ordinary was the music

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the lead character played,

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a piano concerto written especially for the film

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by Richard Addinsell called the Warsaw Concerto.

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It had echoes of Rachmaninov,

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but still felt quintessentially British.

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RADIO: This is the BBC Home Service.

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Switch off the wireless. Quickly, switch it off!

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What's the matter?

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The lights, too.

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PIANO CONCERTO PLAYS

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You know what it is, that music?

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Yes, Warsaw Concerto. I've got the records.

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This may be the miracle we were talking about.

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It may.

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-I'd like to see it.

-Come on.

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The recording, by Louis Kentner,

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the off-screen pianist in the film, sold in its thousands,

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and the piece became a staple of the concert platform

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because it showed wartime Britain a picture of itself that it liked -

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determined, brave, yet warm, passionate and honourable -

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unlike the cold, robotic killers they were facing across the Channel.

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Listen.

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HE PLAYS WARSAW CONCERTO

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PLANES DRONE

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BOMB WHISTLES

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EXPLOSION

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Following the success of the film and its score,

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a whole slew of British films arrived in the late '40s

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with music at their heart.

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Love Story, featuring Hubert Bath's Cornish Rhapsody,

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The Glass Mountain, with a mini-symphony by Nino Rota...

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Over time these specially-written compositions

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were dubbed "tabloid concertos," and in the 70 years since the war,

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the Warsaw Concerto has been comprehensively dismissed

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as "light" music, a bewildering term I've never really understood.

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Tonight is only the Concerto's second Proms performance,

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and, thanks to the concert format,

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we can now judge its merits for ourselves.

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And here is tonight's soloist, Valentina Lisitsa

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and conductor Keith Lockhart.

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The BBC Concert Orchestra perform Richard Addinsell's Warsaw Concerto

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APPLAUSE

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The soloist was Valentina Lisitsa.

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Richard Addinsell's Warsaw Concerto,

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as featured throughout the film Dangerous Moonlight.

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A superb piece of music, beautifully played.

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Those themes are all earworms -

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once you hear them, they are lodged in one's memory for good.

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The lead character Stefan says to his girl in the film,

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"This music is you and me.

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"It's the story of the two of us in Warsaw, of us in America,

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"of us in... Where else, I don't know.

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"That's why I can't finish it." But finish it he does,

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and Richard Addinsell's music retains its power to this day.

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For the second half of tonight's Prom

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in the planetarium-like Royal Albert Hall,

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we move from the past into the distant future.

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Space and unknown life forms are our concern.

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Science fiction has been the basis of thousands of movies

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from Metropolis back in 1927

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right through to this summer's blockbusters,

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Pacific Rim and Iron Man 3.

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With fantasy films like these,

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the music has always had one major job to do -

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to persuade us that what we are watching is real,

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that there really are such things as aliens, space travel

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and the Death Star.

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We'll hear the world premiere concert performance

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of themes from Michael Giacchino's Star Trek - Into Darkness,

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Bond composer David Arnold's music for Independence Day

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and the great Jerry Goldsmith's chilling score for Alien -

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the first full-blooded horror film

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set in a believable alien environment.

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And, to finish the evening, a performance of a score

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that's so well known, most of us can sing along with it -

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John Williams' Star Wars suite, featuring the Imperial March,

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the jazzy Cantina band from Han Solo's first scene

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and, of course, the Main Title

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that carries with it such wonderful echoes of the swashbuckling scores

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of Steiner and Korngold,

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but ushers in a world of adventure in a galaxy far, far away.

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But first, the film that changed the world of science fiction,

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and spawned the "serious" sci-fi movie -

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Stanley Kubrick's 1968 epic, 2001 A Space Odyssey.

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Dealing with an astronaut's first contact with alien life forms

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it gave us a view of space and space travel that was more convincing

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than anything we'd seen before.

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However, the music Kubrick used

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had all existed long before the film was made.

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He wanted most scenes in the film to have no dialogue

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and so he binned the score specially written by Alex North,

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going instead with music he and we knew well.

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In one famous case, the last piece of music we would have expected.

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MUSIC: "By the Beautiful Blue Danube" by Johann Strauss

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So famous did the film and its score become

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that Richard Strauss' Sunrise from Also Sprach Zarathustra

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is for ever linked to 2001

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rather than the tone poem for which it was written.

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MUSIC: "Sunrise" by Richard Strauss

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But the composer who wrote possibly the most thrilling music

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for the film didn't even know it had been used.

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MUSIC: "Atmospheres" by Gyorgy Ligeti

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When he saw the film, Hungarian composer Gyorgy Ligeti was astonished

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at the use of his 1961 piece Atmospheres

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to accompany astronaut Dave Bowman's hair-raising journey through time,

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as well as two other pieces he composed.

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Evidently he was not best pleased to hear his music used

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without his personal permission, nor that it was sharing a soundtrack

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with the two Strausses, whose music he detested.

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The reason for Kubrick's use of these pieces

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is that they were his temp tracks when he was making the film -

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that's the name given to pieces of existing music

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that directors and editors use to make a first cut to.

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They help to inform a scene and give some life to an early cut.

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And all too often directors fall in love with them,

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to the chagrin of so many composers.

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But in the case of 2001, you can't really argue with the final result.

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So, conductor Keith Lockhart comes back on to join

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the BBC Concert Orchestra as we venture into unknown territories

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for the second half of tonight's Film Music Prom at the Royal Albert Hall.

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APPLAUSE

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Three windows upon deep space,

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as featured in Stanley Kubrick's 2001, A Space Odyssey.

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Ligeti's eerie Atmospheres,

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sandwiched between compositions by Strausses Richard and Johann II.

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Kubrick would go on to use other Ligeti pieces in his films

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The Shining and Eyes Wide Shut.

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As we've seen, film music composers

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are sometimes casualties of the editing process,

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but often a movie director will commission from the same composer

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again and again.

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JJ Abrams' Star Trek - Into Darkness

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was one of this year's most eagerly-awaited action blockbusters.

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We're outgunned.

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Outnumbered.

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So, we come out shooting.

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-I am better.

-At what?

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Everything.

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The film is scored by Michael Giacchino,

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whom Abrams gave his first break scoring the TV series Lost,

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and the composer is best known for his work with Pixar films,

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particularly The Incredibles and Up, which won him an Oscar.

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In this piece, Giacchino provides the musical voice

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of Benedict Cumberbatch's sinister character, John Harrison.

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Although, if you've seen the film,

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you'll know that's not the name we will come to know him by.

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Evidently Giacchino wrote the music

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after seeing Benedict on set playing the part.

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Here it is, then - the world premiere of the Ode to Harrison Suite

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APPLAUSE

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Michael Giacchino's Star Trek Suite.

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Next up, Independence Day was David Arnold's second collaboration

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with director Roland Emmerich.

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His passionate score sums up both the implacable aliens

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who threaten to take over the Earth, and the spirited defence

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mounted by the likes of Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith.

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Here's the End Title Suite which includes all the film's main themes,

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from terrifying bombast to slow, lyrical passages

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reminiscent of the wartime films we heard in the first half.

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APPLAUSE

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Wow, David Arnold's Independence Day.

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Now for a change of mood - Ridley Scott's 1979 thriller Alien.

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Jerry Goldsmith's one of film's brightest musical stars,

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and he brings massive conviction to the movie

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with a spare, understated score.

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But tonight we have the End Title,

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a mournful trumpet motif grows into a huge sound

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that is still full of questions, even after this terrifying film is over.

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APPLAUSE

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Jerry Goldsmith's music from the movie Alien.

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Now for the film composer who is the bridge

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between the greats of the '30s, Max Steiner and Erich Wolfgang Korngold,

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and today's blockbuster fantasy films - John Williams.

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Throughout the 1970s, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg made movies

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that harked back to their own early movie-going days at Saturday matinees

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when they would sit in wonder watching aliens from another world

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and adventurers searching for treasure.

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So it's no surprise that in mining those genres

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for the likes of Indiana Jones and Star Wars,

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Williams went back to the music they would have heard at the time.

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Star Wars has leitmotifs, that is, themes for all the major characters -

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we recognise Luke and Obi-Wan by their themes,

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but in particular Darth Vader, whose march has become familiar to us all.

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Part of the charm of the film was in the jokey alien life forms,

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particularly the band that plays in the bar in Han Solo's first scene,

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which we will also hear tonight,

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and then there's that Main Theme,

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unforgettably blasting out as the on-screen text

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of "The Story So Far" disappeared off into deep space.

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And the franchise shows no sign of flagging.

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John Williams' great gift is for melody,

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melody that sticks in the mind and appears to sum up the whole movie

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in one musical idea - and he has done that again and again

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over the years, winning five Oscars, including for this score,

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Star Wars.

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APPLAUSE

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MUSIC: "The Imperial March" by John Williams

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APPLAUSE

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MUSIC: "Princess Leia's Theme" by John Williams

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APPLAUSE

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MUSIC: "Mos Eisley Cantina Theme" by John Williams

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APPLAUSE

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MUSIC: "Star Wars Main Theme" by John Williams

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APPLAUSE

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Well, how to top that?

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Keith Lockhart and the BBC Concert Orchestra

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with John Williams' barnstorming Star Wars suite.

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What a massive crowd-pleaser.

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The audience absolutely delighted here tonight,

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with such a fine concert and such a superb orchestra.

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Keith Lockhart's passion showing in every move, every tip of the baton.

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APPLAUSE CONTINUES

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CHEERING AND WHISTLING

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Shall we do an encore? Why not?

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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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The perfect finale for tonight's special Film Music Prom.

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John Williams' march from the 1978 movie Superman.

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"You'll believe a man can fly!" was the movie tag line -

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well, you certainly can when you hear that score.

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Action, romance - a joyful, rousing explosion of orchestral power

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to go out on.

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Keith Lockhart and the BBC Concert Orchestra, led by Cynthia Fleming,

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have taken us to the stars and back tonight

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with a journey through space and time.

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Fantastic response to this concert tonight.

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And he looks delighted.

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And so he should.

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So, that wraps it up for tonight.

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From me, Neil Brand,

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and this special Film Music Prom from the Royal Albert Hall,

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good night.

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Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

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Neil Brand presents a special night of music from the movies, with war and science-fiction looming large. Keith Lockhart conducts the BBC Concert Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall in Walton's largely-rejected original score for Battle of Britain, Bond composer David Arnold's Independence Day end titles, and Richard Strauss and Ligeti as used by Stanley Kubrick in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Also, possibly the most famous film music ever - John Williams's Star Wars, a world premiere of Giacchino's music for Star Trek: Into Darkness and much more.


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