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Orchestral concert in Balzac set to feature movie soundtracks this month

RMSO principal conductor, Carlos Foggin, anticipates a full house for both upcoming concerts where they will perform music from Star Wars, Apocalypse Now, and Platoon.
The Rocky Mountain Symphony Orchestra (RMSO) is bringing movie soundtracks to life in their upcoming concert Sizzling Soundtracks on March 18 and 19.

The iconic music from Star Wars and other movie soundtracks will be performed by musicians from the Rocky Mountain Symphony Orchestra (RMSO) in Balzac this month.

For people who have never experienced a live orchestral concert before, this will be an easy introduction, according to RMSO’s principal conductor, Carlos Foggin.

The Sizzling Soundtracks performance – scheduled on March 18 and 19 – was already postponed twice, first in 2020 and then in 2021, due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“Third time's the charm,” Foggin said.

He said the musicians are excited to finally perform the music they’ve been waiting so long to play. They typically rehearse together two or three times prior to a concert, which means they’re still preparing for the upcoming performances taking place at Balzac’s Polaris Centre for the Performing Arts and the Red Deer Lake United Church, south of Calgary.

According to Foggin, this is a concert that will likely appeal to most audiences, even those who aren’t too familiar with classical or orchestral music.

“Movie soundtracks really are kind of the popular classic music of our day,” Foggin said. “Imagine watching Star Wars with only the dialogue and no music, it wouldn't have made it past the first movie. The music makes it and people really know that.”

A full orchestra creating the background music and soundtrack to a movie helps create the motion and drive plot points, he added.

For example, without looking at the TV screen, the audience knows when Princess Leia enters a scene just by hearing the cello solo, Foggin explained. Similarly, when the throne room theme song comes on, it’s easy to pinpoint the scene in the movie.

The entire orchestra is required to play the Star Wars Suite, with multiple percussionists on stage hitting away and an alert brass section ready to bring the heat.

Other pieces that most attendees will likely recognize when they hear them played are Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries,” used in the 1979 film Apocalypse Now, and Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” from the 1986 film Platoon, among others.

“It will take you back to the last time you watched those movies, it brings all the associated motion with it,” Foggin said. “I think whether we realize it or not, all of us are maybe not classical music fans, but we do like orchestral music.”

Foggin addressed the current situation in Ukraine, noting RMSO will be performing a song with war in the title during the Sizzling Soundtracks concert, but that it’s a story about a good force trying to overthrow evil.

“We thought this is a good thing, it's timely and people can see it that way and it can work,” he said.

Additionally, the program will include a new orchestral arrangement of the Ukrainian national anthem by the Red Deer Symphony conductor, Claude Lapalme. Foggin explained that Lapalme received a commission from a large Canadian orchestra for this piece, which RMSO will now perform.

Another brand new work that will be revealed is James Bicigo’s “Murder, my Suite,” a tuba concerto conducted by the composer himself.

“It's only fitting that he would get to conduct the premiere,” Foggin said, adding that Bicigo is a new Canadian, originally from the U.S., who is currently living in Red Deer.

Besides conducting this piece, Bicigo will join the orchestra for the remainder of the concert as a trombone player. 

The soloist taking on this new work is RMSO’s principal tuba player, Jean-François Cotnoir.

While the piece is not from any movies, Foggin said it sounds like a crime scene TV-drama soundtrack, and fits well into the soundtrack theme of the evening.

“But I think the piece I'm most looking forward to is actually the Adagio for Strings by Barber,” Foggin said. 

While Star Wars is great, he said the Adagio for Strings is usually played at memorials and was even heard at the concert immediately following 9/11.

“We've been through two yeas of COVID-19, many people have died, mankind has suffered a lot. Now there’s a war which has the potential to escalate, and I lost my mother just recently,” Foggin said. “So this piece that is often seen as music's answer to contemplation and memorializing important events, we will be playing that.

“It's not the big flashy one, but I think it will mean the most to me.”

Foggin is confident there won’t be an empty seat in the house for these two concerts, especially since many people held on to their tickets from the originally postponed performance in 2020.

While the Polaris Centre will be filled to 75 per cent capacity, Red Deer Lake Church is a larger venue that fits around 350 people.

Foggin added the Red Deer Lake United Church concert will be RMSO's first one back on the road in two years, and they’re excited to perform in such a big space in the Foothills.

RMSO managed to host a few concerts during the pandemic at the Polaris Centre, but this will be their first concert with no restrictions and the full orchestra in attendance. Their last concert was held shortly before Christmas with a reduced audience and smaller orchestra.

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Masha Scheele

About the Author: Masha Scheele

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