PROM 27: THE SOUND OF SPACE — SCI-FI FILM MUSIC | BBC Proms 2019

Since the beginning of cinema, there have been so many different ways of capturing the vastness and mystery of space. It’s only recently where film composers (led by the unstoppable Hans Zimmer) have opted for looping four chords around and around, getting louder and louder by adding more brass and more percussion. At this late-night Prom, however, this is what we got, for an hour and a quarter.

A welcome break from this came in the world premiere of an orchestral suite from Jed Kurzel’s score to Alien: Covenant (2017), with the composer contributing live electronics, which, perhaps due to Jerry Goldsmith’s original score, broke free of the Zimmer mould. All the players in the London Contemporary Orchestra seem very young, yet led by floppy-haired Robert Ames, they were able to navigate the thrilling demands of the score — not surprising since the same ensemble recorded the original soundtrack.

Given the standard of musicians and digital wizards on stage, it seemed bizarrely perverse to play audio recordings from the synthesiser-heavy soundtracks to Tron (1982) and Forbidden Planet (1956) over the speakers, while the orchestra sat there doing nothing. Though inexplicable, it did at least help vary the programme. EERA and Lisa Hannigan — both phenomenal talents in their own right — also lent some brief vocals to a couple of pieces.

Zimmer fans would certainly have gone away happy. A suite from Interstellar (2014) made good use of the Royal Albert Hall’s gigantic organ (James McVinnie) in this Proms premiere, building and building to a cosmos-shattering finale.

1,350 £6 Promming tickets are available on the day for every performance.

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