The NRO to perform Star Wars: A New Hope live to film

It’s not just die-hard Star Wars fans who, upon their first viewing of the original, 1977-released film (A New Hope) know from the moment the opening scroll begins (“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”) that one of the greatest movies of all time is underway. What delivers this thunderous realization? The music, of course.

“We use the word iconic all the time, but in this case, it’s true. Star Wars: A New Hope is truly the most iconic and recognizable film score of all time,” says conductor Jason Seber. “In the 1970s, John Williams was already working as a film composer and changing the landscape of music. The idea of space was super popular back then. We had just landed on the moon eight years before this score was written. He completely creates this whole different world. The tension builds immediately when we see ‘A long time ago…’ then the trumpets are blaring and the music just explodes.”

Jason Seber

Jason Seber conducts the NRO at The Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge. by Elaine Collins

Seber and the National Repertory Orchestra bring the explosion to life on July 13, performing the entirety of John Williams’ Oscar-winning score from Star Wars, A New Hope live to film in both an afternoon and evening performance.

Seber, an NRO alumnus (assistant conductor 2004-5), has led major orchestras all across the country and revels in the challenge and gratification of conducting live to film. He has marshalled musicians through numerous Williams’ scores, including Star Wars’ The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. July 13 will mark his second experience leading an orchestra through A New Hope

“It’s Williams’ music that creates the fear in Jaws. In Close Encounters of the Third Kind, it’s that five-note musical phrase that allows the humans and aliens to communicate and understand each other. It builds suspense in Indiana Jones. In A New Hope, the orchestra is mostly used to paint moods in the first half of the film. One of my favorite moments musically is near the beginning when we meet Luke [Skywalker] and his uncle and aunt. He wants to go out on an adventure, but his uncle wants him to stay on the farm. He goes outside and sees that binary sunset. We hear a horn solo playing ‘The Force Theme,’ then the entire orchestra takes over. It’s sweeping, majestic and beautiful. It’s a brilliant musical painting of what we’re observing and the emotions happening on the screen.”

Seber points out a YouTube video of the ending throne room scene from A New Hope, in which Williams’ music has been removed. The effect not only drains the scene of all its triumph and glory, but renders it almost awkward.

“You go back and watch it with John Williams’ music and it’s a completely different feel and result,” Seber says. “While Star Wars is an epic film series, it’s the music that gets people excited. Every character has their own theme and motif. Luke has the title theme, Princess Leia has her own theme … it’s the way he weaves these themes together that makes it so brilliant. It’s what separates his scores from everyone else’s. These movies wouldn’t be what they are without John Williams’ music. Watching a film with a live orchestra is a spectacular experience. The music is much more visceral, present and emotionally provoking. The score becomes the lead actor, in a sense.”

The NRO performs Star Wars: A New Hope in Concert on July 13. The first performance is at 2 p.m. and the second at 7:30 p.m. at The Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge. Cheering – for either favorite film scenes or musical numbers – is encouraged. Costumes are welcome. Tickets start at $5 for children and $20 for adults.

PHOTO: Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Han Solo save the day in Star Wars: A New Hope.© 2018 & TM LUCASFILM LTD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © DISNEY