Next month, to observe the total solar eclipse, Brevard Music Center will show classic science-fiction films Apollo 13 and 2001: A Space Odyssey on its movie nights. But this month’s staging of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in Concert is more than a fun nod to a rare celestial event — it teaches symphonic students the art of music in film-making, and it’s the first time the movie has been used this way in North America, combining public entertainment with private education. (This summer also happens to be the 35th anniversary of Steven Spielberg’s enduring family movie, about an alien left behind on Earth and befriended by a young boy.)
The concert is part of the Center’s summer-long Brevard Music Festival. “As an institution whose key component is orchestral training of young musicians, the chance for its students to prepare and perform a complete film score is a tremendous artistic opportunity, as well as a critical part of their learning experience,” explains Steven Linder, one of the concert’s co-producers.
In the professional orchestral world, full-film evenings are a strong trend, and so “it’s vitally important that students be exposed to this art form,” says Linder. “[They need to] understand its unique place in the orchestral world, along with the technology and style required to make it all possible.”
The score was written by Spielberg’s longtime collaborator, composer John Williams, and while E.T. lost its Oscar bid for Best Movie to Gandhi, it did nab Best Original Score, along with four other international awards for music. Jason Posnock, Brevard Music Center’s director of artistic planning and educational programs, calls the score “rich, tuneful, and interesting,” and notes that “this will be a brand-new [undertaking] for most, if not all, of the students performing. They will face different technical and musical challenges than they typically do with a symphony, concerto, or other concert piece. The ensemble precision, as well as the rhythmic and dynamic demands, will require an incredibly high level of concentration.” Contrast that to the families on the other side of the footlights, whose “work” is just to enjoy the show, and “it’s a unique communal experience,” he says.
Brevard Sinfonia presents E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in Concert — led by Maestro Constantine Kitsopoulos in his Brevard Music Center debut — on Saturday, July 8, 8:30pm, at Whittington-Pfohl Auditorium. Tickets range from $20-$60. For more information, see brevardmusic.org.