It was a Star Wars concert in Kiel

keel. “My God, it’s warm here,” groans the young guest at the entrance. “Are we on Tatooine?” Tatooine – let that be explained to Star Wars novices – is the hot desert planet that Luke Skywalker grew up on. In the crowded Wunderino Arena (formerly Sparkassenarena, formerly Ostseehalle) in the center of Kiel, the temperature is more pleasant. Also, we’re not going to Tatooine tonight, but luckily Hoth, Snow Planet and Rebel Alliance Hideout first.

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Because on Saturday evening, August 13, the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra, conducted by Ludwig Wicki, will introduce “The Empire Strikes Back” to the stage and screen, the fifth and historically and chronologically second episode of the most famous film saga of our time. The whole thing is called “Star Wars in concert” and, according to the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival (SHMF), it promises a “multimedia film concert”.

What was there to listen to?

The concept is easy to explain: an entire excerpt of the German version of the 1980 film is shown on a giant screen, and a musical piece is played live by an orchestra. In this case, it is the 120-person Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra, founded in 1987 by Leonard Bernstein. It brings together musicians from various nationalities, all of whom are under 26 years of age.

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What was there to see?

The plot of the film is also briefly outlined for the novice: After the Death Star is destroyed (see Episode IV: “A New Hope”), rebel troops hid on the snowy planet of Hoth along with their heroes Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo.

The Evil Empire finds out and drives the rebels away, forcing Leia, Han, and the shaggy Wookie Chewbacca to flee to the cloud city of Bespin. Meanwhile, Luke searches for the nearly 900-year-old Master Yoda to be trained as a Jedi Knight.

On Bespin it is revealed that host Lando Calrissian had to make a deal with the sinister Darth Vader: as a result, Luke is lured to Cloud City and Han Solo is frozen in “Carbonite” to be sent to Jabba’s gangster (see Episode VI: “Return of the Knight) Jedi “).

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Luke meets Darth Vader, loses his hand in battle, learns who his real father is, escapes and is saved by Leia, Lando and Chewbacca.

The Dark Lord with a heavy breath: Darth Vader on the imperial command ship accompanied by the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra.

How did it start?

“I’m curious to see how they do it with the soundtrack, if the orchestra is just playing over it, or if the original piece is muted.” Norman Marquardt (27) is doing a PhD in Philosophy at the Christian Albrecht University of Kiel. “Anyway, I’m very curious to know what this will do with the cinematic experience and expect a borderline media experience.”

The orchestral performance begins with a great cheer with the world-famous jingle from the top “20th Century Fox”: “Dram-Dram, Dram-Dram, Drrrrrrrrr-Ram-Dram.” And then it begins: “Once upon a time, a galaxy far away …”

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The Star Wars fanfare sounds in all its glory in which composer John Williams wrote it. It is music of Wagnerian richness, monumentally using the variety of voices of the entire orchestra. It’s just as far from the avant-garde minimalism of 1970s synthesizers as it is from today’s performers à la Max Richter or Ludovico Einaudi – and Ostseehalle feels it.

What was the mood?

Werner (64) and Andreas (58) are resting on the terrace during their break. They’re not a Star Wars fan, but they’re very interested: “We grew up with it,” says Andreas. Werner has been to ET in Concert before and is impressed with the dynamics the film gains when accompanying it live.

Uplifting sounds: The Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra under the direction of Ludwig Wicki received a standing ovation.

Uplifting sounds: The Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra under the direction of Ludwig Wicki received a standing ovation.

The evening is actually not a colorful event for fans. Only a handful of lightsabers glows in the dark occasionally, no sign of the costumed Sith Lords and Padawans Jedi, Wookies and Ewoks, stormtroopers and rebels. All age groups are represented, audiences range from toddlers in soccer jerseys to older couples in elegant concert outfits.

Most of the guests have already come to see a movie they already know well – only this time on a screen bigger than any cinema, with music flowing more clearly than through the most expensive system.

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What were the highlights of the evening?

Almost everyone knows the famous hymn leitmotifs that show the characters musically. Of course, the heart of a friend from Star Wars rises to hear the moving melodies of such a professional symphony orchestra: Yoda lifting the “X-Wing” from the swamp or the flight of the “Millennium Falcon” through an asteroid field.

Sneaky rescue attempt: Luke Skywalker and R2-D2 set out to help their friends in the cloud city of Bespin.  SHMF Star Wars in Kiel on August 13, 2022.

Sneaky rescue attempt: Luke Skywalker and R2-D2 set out to help their friends in the cloud city of Bespin. SHMF Star Wars in Kiel on August 13, 2022.

And for the first time, quieter sounds are also more present, such as the haunted pizzicato (strings buzzing) in the scene where the astrodroid and Luke’s sidekick R2-D2 crashes into the Dagobah Swamp. But the main attraction?

“The credits were the highlight,” says geography student Meike Dresen, 27. Because only at the end of the break – with a small interlude of Darth Vader music “Imperial March” – and in a large suite after the end of the film, the orchestra did a really good job.

Only here was it more than just background music: flawless playing combined with the greatest joy that was nowhere more impressive and contagious than on the radiant face of New Zealand cellist Begonia Chan.

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Prime Location: C3PO (from left), R2-D2, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia look at the end credits with a poignant orchestral sound.

Prime Location: C3PO (from left), R2-D2, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia look at the end credits with a poignant orchestral sound.

What was disappointing?

“At first I was enthusiastic about orchestral music, but after five minutes the effect evaporated,” says Norman Marquardt. “I’ve only seen one movie since then, which is a shame.” This is where the problem with the concept lies: as the orchestra performs the original soundtrack at its original pace, original cast and original volume, it removes all freedom of interpretation.

There is no room for surprises here, instead the band tries to make the listener watch the movie with as little irritation as possible: the better it played, the more it faded into the background. “Unfortunately, I couldn’t really appreciate the orchestra despite its excellent performance,” agrees Dominic Dresen (27), who works in the public sector.

What was the big surprise?

There were no musical surprises. On the other hand, when it comes to content, there are still details to discover in the Star Wars saga – especially the early trilogy – even if you watch it fifteen times. For example, the timeliness of Lando Calrissian, Bespin’s cloud city administrator and cunning businessman: complains about supply bottlenecks, lack of staff, eliminates carbon dioxide by freezing, and has to personally experience what it means to deal with autocratic systems.

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Poor Recruitment: Darth Vader tries to convert Luke Skywalker to the

Poor Recruitment: Darth Vader tries to convert Luke Skywalker to the “dark side” of the Force.

What’s the application?

Those who wanted to see the movie in the most overwhelming picture and sound quality were well worth the price. But anyone who expected a concert above all must have realized: rarely has such a large and masterly orchestra made such an effort to remain invisible.

John Williams’ music creates worlds. Invites you to sleep, can make you shiver, touch and grab. And especially this orchestra, full of young virtuosos who hugged after the concert, is able to fully use the power of this music. Only one small change would make the concert perfect: the screen should remain black.

Author: Timm Lewerenz

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