For one weekend only, the nerd-gasmic Star Wars versus Star Trek debate will reach a Trekkie verdict, as determined by the San Antonio Symphony. Returning to their former home at the Majestic Theatre, the symphony will perform the score “live to picture” to Star Trek Into Darkness, the 2013 feature directed by J.J. Abrams.
Into Darkness picks up where the 2009 Star Trek reboot left off, with James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) now in charge of the U.S.S. Enterprise, boldly going into galactic dilemmas and heroically fucking them up. Early into the 133-minute flick, an attack by Starfleet turncoat John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) hits London, beginning an interstellar terrorist hunt. Klingon conflicts, time travel, CGI-fest space battles and superfluous semi-nudity occurs, eventually revealing (minor spoiler) Harrison as Khan, the genetically-engineered villain from the original NBC series.
Throughout the IMAX-shot PG-13 picture, Michael Giacchino’s verbose score winds and releases tension as effectively as any cinematic or storytelling trick. Taking a page from the John Williams songbook, Giachhino’s short cello bursts trickle into gorges of pompous, wonderful strings, impeccably fused to the action on the reel. And it’s no coincidence—Giacchino teamed with J.J. Abrams on Mission: Impossible III, Lost and the first Star Trek revival, tailoring his scores to Abrams’ action-soaked work.
On Friday and Saturday, the San Antonio Symphony will navigate the charts of Giacchino under the direction of guest conductor Constantine Kitsopoulos. The music director of the Queens Symphony Orchestra and general director of Chatham Opera, Kitsopoulos will guide the 72-member symphony through the two-hour score.
A quick intermission (and rite of confession) to explain the role of the conductor. As a kid growing up in Massachusetts, my mother and I would rip into Keith Lockhart, conductor of the Boston Pops, as he and the orchestra would soundtrack the Fourth of July fireworks over the bay. “Look at that nerd,” we’d yell at the TV, “doesn’t he know how silly he looks flailing around in front of musicians who don’t need him?”
Well, of course the musicians know what they’re doing, in the same way pro athletes internalize their roles without being told. But a good conductor is similar to a good coach: Gregg Popovich controlling the evening’s flow with a light hand, reining in the team or sustaining good energy, without getting in the way of individual talent.
With that said, Kitsopoulos has a notable task on his hands, maintaining a natural poise for the musicians while staying reel-to-reel with the action onscreen. The third show of the 2014-2015 season, Into Darkness offers a lovely introduction to the symphony, with multimedia excitement for new recruits to the music.
Star Trek Into Darkness
8pm Fri, Oct 17
8pm Sat, Oct 18
The Majestic Theatre
224 E Houston