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SBSO’s Inspiring Gamble Brings Past and Future Together in Concert Event

Reviewer: Lisa Purchase

Venue: The Temple Theatre

Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra performs Star Trek at live at the Temple Theatre April 27, 2024

Spock: “A gamble?”  

Spock Prime: “An act of faith. One I hope that you will repeat in your future in Starfleet.”  

In a fashionably retro event, the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra boldly went …  someplace new … and old. Their Star Trek: The Future Begins – LIVE concert was a  gamble that paid off spectacularly for the enthusiastic audience Saturday night.  Maestro Fouad Fakouri led our symphony orchestra playing the soundtrack music of  Michael Giacchino while the 2009 prequel Star Trek played on a movie screen above  them. A mixed crowd of SBSO regulars and Star Trek slightly-irregulars crowd showed  up with differing expectations, and none were disappointed. Those with discerning  musical ears and those with pointy ears were equally indulged with this outstanding  mix of media. 

As SBSO Executive Director Cameron Massey walked on stage in a red-shirt crew  uniform (I was relieved to see him whole and healthy at intermission), the similarly attired Trekkies in the audience cheered in solidarity, setting the tone for everyone’s  investment in this occasion. Massey introduced the event: “For the first time in the  Great Lakes Bay Region we will be hearing a full symphony orchestra of some of the  best classical musicians in Michigan and beyond play the score live to the movie.” And  it truly was an impressive sight, seeing our 85 musicians poised to play while a giant  screen spanned the width and height of the space above them. 

This of course was the way movies were first presented, with silent films and live  music, as films originally had no soundtrack. This SBSO event was a layered nod to  both the past and the future, pairing the live music with a sci-fi movie full of space  travel and time travel (as the movie itself is a prequel to the original Star Trek series and  characters within this movie also time travel).  

With the music soundtrack stripped from this version of the film, Fakouri had a small  prompt screen with “streamers” marking the countdown to music entrances and  keeping the tempo in synch with the movie above them. Musicians and movie  launched into the two-plus hour event, with the orchestra providing the score and the  movie playing the visuals and dialogue. The audience seemed to hang on every word  and every note. While I enjoyed my popcorn, the familiar movie characters, and action  sequences on the screen, the presence of the musicians in the room brought a new  emphasis to the score. With the live orchestra, the music became more powerful, felt  as much as heard, giving a new dimension to the movie. I got chills as the music  swelled with the new USS Enterprise floating onto the screen. Seeing the orchestra  moving together beneath the screen added a unique visual element to the music itself,  bringing yet another layer to the movie experience and marrying the visual and audial  elements together. With only two rehearsals, this orchestra was flawless in its  performance to end its 88th season.

This was a new experiment for our SBSO, and they are using it to gauge interest for  future live movie/concert events like this one. This was no small undertaking, and  required a substantial financial investment from the SBSO and its sponsors. In his  introduction, Massey explained, “To be honest, a project this size is rare for an  orchestra like ours. For years we have been told it wouldn’t be possible, but as you will  see tonight — like James Kirk — here in Saginaw we do not believe in the no-win  scenario.” If the audience reaction is any indication, this was a win-win for everyone. At  the conclusion of the movie/concert, the audience went wild. The conductor had to  return to the stage three times, as the cheers went on and on and the orchestra was  held on stage for repeated bows. The SBSO’s Star Trek: The Future Begins – LIVE was  a blockbuster event of galactic proportions, and one we hope to see repeated in the  near future. Stay tuned for future versions of this and get it on your calendar when it  shows up, as it is not to be missed!

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