12 December 2022

Home Alone In Concert with the Royal Northern Sinfonia - Sage Gateshead

It's been a while since I've seen a film in concert so when I was given the opportunity to review the ever brilliant RNS performing Home Alone in Concert I jumped at the chance! I'd planned to go in concert performances of Star Wars, La La Land and Indiana Jones in the past but something always came up. Let's just say I am now addicted - jump at the chance to see John Williams scores in particular performed by orchestras!

The Sage itself is always magical at Christmas and this year was no exception, with the magnificent tree in the middle of the concourse and a festive log fire scene projected onto the big screen above the main bar. The stall selling Home Alone merchandise was doing well, and many people were in the spirit of things sporting their "Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal" jumpers. The bar was selling Home Alone house-shaped shortbread, and I wish I'd known that you could get pizzas and ice cream (in true Kevin fashion) beforehand!

Inside Sage One, the lights around each level were coloured red and green adding to the festive ambience. The hall filled quickly, and it became apparent that it was a sell out (I think the earlier performance was a sell out too - so be organised if you'd like to go next year)! I loved watching everyone come in with their Christmas jumpers and made a mental note to invest in a new one. The children in front of me were very excited and bouncing up and down in their chairs.

How Festive Can You Get?

The musicians seemed to magically appear on stage at the same time (or maybe I was Christmas jumper watching and got distracted). It was only afterwards that I realised that the conductor, Anthony Gabriele is an expert "film with orchestra" conductor (I was wondering during it if that was a thing) and has also conducted The Wizard Of Oz and Raiders of the Lost Ark. The tuning up finished and I loved the fact that they played the 20th Century Fox fanfare. Then the opening credits flashed up on the screen, the weirdly unsettling black background with the blue house logo as the RNS struck up the instantly recognisable main title track, "Somewhere In My Memory." I always found the first few bars a bit scary as a kid! This is one of my all time Christmas classics and I didn't realise it was nominated for Best Original Song at the Oscars. It's difficult not to be touched by the chimes/xylophone before the winds, horns then strings come in. And of course the sleigh bells. The choir part is just stunning, and the lyrics simple yet poignant about family, special memories and the magic of the season. (Anyone who loves films knows that John Williams is an unparalleled genius and composed for both Home Alone films, not to mention a small franchises called Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Harry Potter). It must be an absolute pleasure playing John Williams scores.

Stunning festive setting in Sage One!

Then we pan to a shot of the beautifully decorated McCallister mansion (which has it's own theme tune) and Joe Pesci as a fake policeman, casing the joint for an imminent burglary. Adults and children are running around frantically getting ready for a trip to Paris. "Holiday Flight" starts up, with frenzied strings perfectly capturing the chaos going on in the house, and the panic of sleeping in. Then the carol "Star of Bethlehem" later, a more classical piece which is instantly recognisable as Williams's work features numerous times. I particularly enjoy the Burglar Motif which accompanies a lot of scenes with Marv and Harry. Other high points are "O Holy Night" and "Carol of the Bells" towards the end - which accompany the church scene where Kevin realises Old Marley is not the serial killer that he's been told, and then when he is running back to the house to prepare to thwart the burglary. I looked up and realised that the Choir of the RNS had come on; it was difficult not to get emotional at the combination of the orchestra and choir who did a brilliant job conveying the innocence and warmth of the holidays through the eyes of a child.  It's only when I researched the music that I realised its brilliance, with Williams creating five main themes and new carols mixed in with traditional ones, all of which perfectly match the emotions and situations in the film.  I love the combination of the oboe, woodwind and plucked strings and will be listening to the soundtrack on repeat from now until Christmas! Everyone remained seated as the orchestra performed the score for the end credits which was a beautiful finale to a magical evening. 

Don't miss The Snowman in Concert at the Sage from 22nd to 24th December with three performances a day - click here to book

Or RNS Plays Star Wars on 4th May - click here to book 

Or John Wilson - Hollywood's Greatest Hits on 11th November 2023 with the Sinfonia of London - click here to book 

To find out more about all upcoming events at Sage Gateshead please go to sagegateshead.com

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