Sitting in the darkened Civic Auditorium Saturday night with more than 2,300 other movie/concert goers, watching Steven Spielberg’s 1981 movie “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark” running on a big screen above the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra playing the sound track live, brought a mixture of thoughts.
Was this a concert of composer John Williams’ great film score, accompanied by visuals that helped the music tell a story? Was this an evening at the movies with the musical sound track brought into the foreground, by live musicians and conductor James Fellenbaum, to highlight the emotional highs and lows of the story. Or was this an inside look at how what one sees and what one hears at the movies get put together to make the magic?
The film, set in 1936, is showing its age. It was Ford’s first venture as Indiana Jones, the character created by George Lucas. We’ve watched Ford get older in a sweep of movies: four Indiana Jones stories (with another one scheduled to come in 2020); “Star Wars” films; a futurist in “Blade Runner;” a detective in “Witness;” CIA analyst Jack Ryan; a cop; even the president of the United States.
But, although we’ve heard Williams’ Indiana Jones’ themes for 30 years, watching an orchestra play it was fresh and exciting.
To coordinate the music with the image, Fellenbaum, obviously enjoying his role, had both the score and a monitor in front of him that gave him queues when to start and stop. For their part, the musicians in the large orchestra seemed to enjoy the rumble of the low basses, the trumpet blasts accompanying blows on the screen.
It was cold in the arctic weather blast outside. But inside, a warm good time was had by all.