Star Wars: In Concert Opens

Pete Vilmur | October 2, 2009

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While The Clone Wars second season premiere debuts tonight, a second major Star Wars event is also making a debut of sorts, although it had a one night head start on Clone Wars — yup, Star Wars: In Concert opened its US tour last night at Anaheim’s Honda Center in California, and continues with a second performance tonight (that’s a double-hit for fans attending the concert and taping the Clone Wars premiere at home!)

Last night, thousands of audience members got to witness a brand new Star Wars experience for the first time in the US, one that included not only a live orchestra and choir conducted magnificently by Dirk Brossé, but also synchronized footage from all six Star Wars movies beaming from a huge high-def LED super-screen, a recorded intro by Vader voice actor James Earl Jones, and a brilliant series of introductions for each musical piece performed live by actor Anthony Daniels, who was able to thread the sequence of scores into a singular narrative spanning Episodes I-VI (in that order). Oh, and there were a few lasers and pyrotechnics thrown in for good measure.

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Photo by David Iskra

While the narrative unfolded in episode order, the selected musical pieces roughly followed chronologically as well, but not exactly. For the Star Wars audiophiles out there, here’s the themes in the order played:

Star Wars Main Title
Duel of the Fates
Anakin’s Theme
Moisture Farm
The Flag Parade
Across the Stars
Battle of the Heroes
The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme)

Intermission

The Asteroid Field
Princess Leia’s Theme
Tales of a Jedi Knight
Cantina Band
Yoda’s Theme
TIE Fighter Attack
Luke and Leia
The Forest Battle
Light of the Force
Throne Room/End titles

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Photo by David Iskra

In addition to 18 memorable selections from all six Star Wars scores, there was an expansive exhibit of original Star Wars costumes, props and artwork on display in the venue’s round-about lobby, which actually threatened to make a good portion of the audience miss the first few minutes of the opening score. The exhibit captivated so many upon entering that many seemed torn between staying in the lobby or entering the theater. In addition to the exhibit, members of the 501st and Rebel Legions were on hand for photo ops with fans, and at least four stands stocked full of exclusive Star Wars: In Concert memorabilia kept several eager collectors busy through the start of the performance.

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The performance itself is fully-immersive: Anthony Daniels first sets the tone of the piece to come by placing it in the context of the saga as a whole. Daniels, incidentally, was the perfect choice for this role, not only because his character — C-3PO — has seen the events of the entire saga unfold, but because the actor delivers a riveting performance. On stage, the 3-story high-def screen projects the film footage with utter clarity, surrounded by a halo of low-res screens to enhance the tone of the imagery (this is most effective when Tatooine’s twin suns are displayed around the central footage of scenes taking place on the desert planet). Additionally, there are lasers, jets of steam, and even balls of fire thrown above the stage, most effectively during the Anakin and Obi-Wan duel on Mustafar for “Battle of the Heroes”.

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The orchestra and choir, displayed front and center under a wash of light to complement the footage, is of course the centerpiece to the presentation, and the reason Star Wars: In Concert enjoyed a sold-out performance on opening night. Savvy fans are pretty familiar with the magic behind the movies, but rarely do we get to witness first-hand the magic behind the music.

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For more information about Star Wars: In Concert, visit the official site here, and also check out our image series over at Flickr.com.

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