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Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

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Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Thursday, 29 October 2015

My review of David Arnold's utterly amazing concert in Lucerne

Enchanting and beautiful Lucerne

 Up Mount Pilatus, bit of a climb, fortunately they have a cogwheel railway train to take you

Lucerne, in German-speaking (technically Swiss German-speaking) Switzerland, is GORGEOUS. I walked around it in the mild-weather twilight on arrival and swooned at the buildings, the bridge, the delightful electrified buses (they have those pantograph things that trains have, but on poles in the road).

Buses have two poles on top which connect with the wires and form an electrical circuit

The next day I gawped at the lake and mountainous terrain on a 20m train journey from Lucerne to Alpnachstad in order to take the 45 degree red cogwheel 'Pilatusbahn' train (it uses a Locher rack and pinion mechanism to grip tightly onto a rather slender-looking track and haul itself up mountain steepnesses the likes of which I'd never seen or really believed before) up Mount Pilatus.

The lovely Pilatusbahn rack railway, using the Locher system which appears to be a horizontal version of the Strub system (I am not an expert!).

We climed the 2,000m in about half an hour and it was absolutely breathtaking. I'd gone along more interested in the train mechanism and experience of going up a mountain at an odd angle and hadn't really clocked that the scenery was going to be as stunning as it was. There was some general touristy chatter and a bit of oohing and aahing as we went up and up and up, and then stunned silence as we noticed just how massive and awe-inspiring the vista opening before us was. There was a particularly magical bit where we went through clouds (I'd just done this in an aircraft the day previously, that's always fun) but the clouds were an eerie magical blue (just the sky above them, the clouds were quite thin) but the effect was of a misty blue wispy smoke curling round a forest of fir trees. It was like something out of Tolkien and I tweeted that I was 100% convinced that he'd shimmied up Mt Pilatus on the cogwheel train (it was built in 1889 so timing would work). It turns out I wasn't too far off as apparently he was inspired by a different bit of Switzerland (including the Lauterbrunnen Valley) which is every bit as ridiculously beautiful.

The blue sky peeps through the cloudy mist as we ascend Mount Pilatus. Oooh!

Anyway I was in Lucerne specifically for 'The Music of David Arnold' which was an evening of music composed by David for film, television and the Olympics 2012 closing ceremony. Despite loving the music for Stargate for years I didn't actually know who he was, or that he'd written that, until I went along to hear a composer talk about their work at the Sundance Film Festival in London a couple of years ago and it turned out to be him. And he does film music concerts! My favourite thing ever! It was an amazing concert and I heartily recommend that if you get a chance to go to one of his concerts that you should take it. There are other wonderful film music concerts too of course (plenty at the Royal Albert Hall) and for worldwide readers the best sites to find out more are Movies in Concert (I've nothing to do with that film site but took the RSS updates and turned it into this Twitter feed - @moviesinconcert) and FilmConcertsLive.

I wrote the following review on Songkick and decided to pinch it and put it here too.

David Arnold's magical and friendly film music concert - twinkly music & amiable chatter
This was a spectacular evening with a full orchestra and choir (the 21st Century Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Ludwig Wicki) performing a range of film and television music composed by David Arnold, who performed along with them in the beautiful KKL Luzern.

Of course he wrote all of the music in the first place but he also played keyboard (sometimes playing a tune, sometimes cueing a sound effect), guitar and sang a few of his songs on the night. He has a great voice and did a fantastic rendition of Bjork's Play Dead and an absolutely astounding one of kd lang's Surrender (which are songs that he wrote for, respectively, The Young Americans and Tomorrow Never Dies) - he's a talented chap!

Hearing his music from the film Stargate performed right in front of me was pretty magical and it closed the first half of the concert (we'd also heard themes from The Stepford Wives, Godzilla and Paul, which is one of the Simon Pegg & Nick Frost films David has scored (the other one is Hot Fuzz)).

The second half showed off his work on the James Bond franchise - he's written scores for five of the films, most recently Quantum of Solace from which the orchestra played 'A Night at the Opera'. Lovely stuff. We also heard music from the BBC's Sherlock, which he co-composed with Michael Price. Given we were in Switzerland I'm not certain how many in the room would have heard of or seen Sherlock before (I suppose it will depend on their television channel package!) but I'm quite convinced everyone enjoyed hearing the music.

And then we had the finale (though David explained in entertaining detail how concerts always pretend it's the finale but it's not really, and everyone laughed) the end titles to Independence Day. Seriously awesome and quite a visceral experience to be in the presence of all that wonderful noise, brass, organ, all the other bits. Amazing.

Not surprisingly we all leapt to our feet to clap and cheer as David and Ludwig (the conductor) left the stage only to be clapped back in for another couple of finale pieces. Things finally ended with David on guitar playing that James Bond theme followed by several minutes of clapping. It was all rather wonderful.

The packed auditorium (behind me) - the capacity of the sold-out venue is over 1,800 seats!

There's a 30s clip of the audience clapping embedded in this tweet (assuming it works on the platform you're using to read this blog)

David Arnold thanking everyone for attending and supporting live music. The 21st Century Symphony Orchestra is behind him (conductor Ludwig Wicki's just left the stage) and the 21st Century Chorus are in the balcony behind the orchestra. They were all fantastic.

As I'm sure you can guess I'm a big fan of David Arnold's work but I think even if you're not particularly familiar with his music (you might not know his name but I'm sure you'd know some of the films he's scored) you'd enjoy one of his concerts as he's also very entertaining. One of my favourite tweeted comments about one of his earlier concerts said, of the first half:
"Really enjoying the music of @DavidGArnold this evening - and we've not even heard any pieces I know yet! #amazing"
Which is spot on, really :)

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