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Death, Transfiguration, and Light Sabers: Concert to Play Star Wars Themed Music

Preceding an epic Saber Battle in Midtown on May 4, the American River College Orchestra will present an epic Northern California premiere of The Force Awakens Suite by John Williams on May 3 as well as a playing of Richard Strauss’ Death and Transfiguration. To make it a complete Star Wars experience (or to make doubly sure that you’re all warmed up for the battle), the Golden Gate Knights will also provide some dramatic light saber battles of their own during the evening.

Being able to present this to the public was no easy feat. The Force must have indeed been with the orchestra, because as a new and expensive score, The Force Awakens took a bit of creative funding to purchase. The orchestra raised the funds necessary to buy the score and also received a donation from local music store, Tim’s Music. As a result, members are all the more excited to present the work.

“This is such a great opportunity for the orchestra and should entice people to come who typically wouldn’t go to an orchestra concert,” said Sydney Adamson, violist. “The Suite has a lot of new melodies, but people will also get to hear familiar tunes.”

Williams’ film score adds emotion and color to the Star Wars movies, and as a perfect compliment to the familiar classic, Death and Transfiguration is a representation of classical music’s similar form: the tone poem.

“Tone poems generally explore some emotional, transcendent human experience. In Death and Transfiguration, we have a fascination of nature and awe of the supernatural,” said Director Steven Thompson. “It is a spectacular piece.”

The piece earns its name due to its detailing of the inner conflicts of someone close to the end of their life–upon reviewing their life and current reality, death comes and they undergo a transfiguration that has them in a better place.

“Despite the somber context, the emotional expression written into the music is very beautiful,” Adamson explained. “Even if you’ve never been to an orchestra concert this one is definitely worth a listen.”

The work is challenging for the orchestra, yet accessible for the audience, and the two pieces help illustrate the range the orchestra is able to play.

“I love the variety we have in our concerts,” said Adamson. “A Christmas concert, a Concerto and Aria competition, classical symphonies, film scores, the list goes on. Playing a broad range of pieces makes every rehearsal and concert a joy to play and listen to.”

The not-soon-to-be-forgotten evening of music will take place Wednesday, May 3 at 7:30pm at the American River College Theater, 4700 College Oak Dr, Sacramento. Admission is $15 general/$10 students.

To purchase tickets, visit orchestramedia.wixsite.com.

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About the author

Kate Wells

Kate Wells

Kate Wells has been studying violin for the last ten years and loves the variety of classical music that Sacramento area offers. She has worked as a river guide, lighting specialist, martial arts instructor, and is currently teaching English at Charter University Prep in Placerville.

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