Is 'Star Wars' classical music? You bet your lightsaber.

BY LAWRENCE TOPPMAN

 

Is ‘Star Wars’ classical music? You bet your lightsaber.

 

Which of these does not belong?

a) Chopin

b) Mozart

c) Stravinsky

d) Beethoven

e) Williams (yes, John)

 

It’s a trick question: They all belong, and that’s why the 5 Browns put all of them on the program they’ll play Jan. 18 at Halton Theater. Did they include a 10-minute suite from “Star Wars” to cross over to pop fans, or do they think the five-time Oscar-winner ranks among the greats of history?

 

“Probably both,” says Desirae Brown, the eldest sibling. “He’s a wonderful composer, and we grew up loving those films. We just saw the newest one – it’s great – because two of our Juilliard classmates, Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver, are in it.

 

“People who have grown up in the ages of iPods and smartphones don’t think about categories. Even composers don’t. Nico Muhly wrote a five-piano concerto for us. He’ll write for (indie singers) Sam Amidon and Sufjan Stevens, and now he’s starting a second opera for the Met. The lines are blurred.”

 

The list of classical greats who wrote film scores runs for pages. It starts with Camille Saint-Saens, who did the first ever created for a motion picture: “The Assassination of the Duc de Guise,” in 1908. Virtually every composer beloved in Hollywood’s Golden Age – Korngold, Steiner, Tiomkin, Rozsa – were European-trained masters chased to America by Nazis.

 

The list of Oscar-winners or nominees includes Aaron Copland (“The Heiress”), Leonard Bernstein (“On the Waterfront”), William Walton (“Hamlet”) and Dmitri Shostakovich (“Khovanshchina”). Ralph Vaughan Williams, the most versatile English composer ever, wrote music for five short films and seven features.

 

John Williams, who’ll turn 86 next month as he finishes his ninth “Star Wars” film, has said, “I think serious composers will become ever more interested (in movies). Changes in technology change aesthetic approaches.” Whether we hear Walton’s “Crown Imperial” march for a monarch or Williams’ “Imperial March” for stormtroopers, we’re in the same sound world.

 

Charlotte Concerts presents The 5 Browns at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 18 at Halton Theater, 1206 Elizabeth Ave. To buy tickets, go here.

 

To learn more about The 5 Browns, go here.

 

To get a taste of The 5 Browns’ version of “Star Wars,” go here.

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