Aptly titled A SYMPHONY OF HEROES , the Houston Symphony’s recent concert at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion on the solemn anniversary of September 11th, was at once both reverent and optimistic. A free concert sponsored by HUNTSMAN, the stated theme was wonderfully supported by the orchestra’s selection of music from classic film scores celebrating such cinematic heroes as Superman, Robin Hood, Wonder Woman, Batman and Spiderman. Some of those iconic figures even prowled the pavilion plaza delighting arriving children prior to showtime. Kids even had the chance to select free books from plaza reading tables. On the pleasantly warm late-summer evening there were even some welcome breezy crosswinds circulating in the pavilion, while soft pastel lighting embraced the shirt-sleeved orchestra on the stage. Presiding over the musical excitement, and more formally dressed in a crisp white dinner jacket and black tie, was the cheerfully good-humored conductor, Stuart Chafetz, who brought lots of fun to the proceedings, even when not one, but two microphones failed him while addressing the eager crowd.
The thrilling opening selection made it clear this was an important occasion with the shimmering and ever-rising crescendos of John Williams’ powerful Summon the Heroes, featuring an impressive trumpet solo from Mark Hughes. Then, before the blaring excitement of Music from The Incredibles , Chafetz amused the old-timers in the crowd by singing a few bars of the old Mighty Mouse theme, “Here I Come to Save the Day.” Next came whirling excitement and sweeping grandeur from the musical pairing of Main Theme from The Avengers and Suite from X-Men: The Last Stand. Soon the enthusiastic crowd would be clapping along at a galloping pace for the Lone Ranger excitement of Rossini’s familiar William Tell Overture . What followed was what I consider to be one of the finest film scores of all time: Korngold’s majestic and Oscar-winning “Symphonic Suite” from 1939’s classic, The Adventures of Robin Hood .
The Music from Wonder Woman began with a spooky and ominous atmosphere and moved on to pounding rhythms. There would be more rousing excitement from the Theme from Batman , just at the time the conductor’s microphones were failing him as he bravely shouted to the crowd in the dark and cavernous arena. That problem was resolved just in time for maestro Chafetz to invite all emergency responders and military service members to stand and be recognized by the appreciative audience.
The intermission-free program moved on to the mysterious Spiderman Theme, and then to the somber, yet richly beautiful tribute of the elegant Hymn to the Fallen from Saving Private Ryan . Then the delicate transitions and gentle sweetness of John Williams’ Love Theme from Superman seemed an appropriate recognition of the real superheroes being honored by this very special concert from our own heroic Houston Symphony. Bravo!