Adelaide Festival – 2001: A Space Odyssey

2001 A Space Odyssey. Image supplied.
2001 A Space Odyssey. Image supplied.

Forty five years on, it still fascinates, and holds up as a real classic.  Stanley Kubrick’s epic film is a work of genius by a man far ahead of his time.

Combined with the 96 piece Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and the 60 or so voices of the augmented Adelaide Chamber Singers, it produced a concert-film combination that is a highlight of the Adelaide Festival this year.

The music in the film is dramatic and central to the moods it creates, especially since the film contains relatively sparse dialogue, and there is nothing quite like hearing it live as the film is shown.  The excellent ASO packed real power into the stirring opening bars of Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra, which this film has made famous.  The choir, parked behind the large orchestra in two halves, sopranos and altos on one side, tenors and basses on the other, managed the fearfully complex and amorphous Atmospheres and other ethereal excerpts of works by György Ligeti very effectively, adding new mystery to the ethereal cinematic imagery.

The major work which accompanies the space-station docking and other space vehicle sequences, as well as the closing credits is Johann Strauss’s An der schönen blauen Donau –  the Blue Danube Waltz: not a major challenge for this orchestra, but they revelled in it nevertheless.  And so did the audience, as the richness of the live performance added such dimension to the amazing visuals on the big screen.

At the hands of the very experienced American conductor Robert Ziegler, who obviously was very much at home in this musico-cinematic genre, the choir and orchestra both added a rich dimension to this remarkable movie, providing the large Festival Theatre audience with a memorable, even visceral experience.

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