Moody leads Symphony in rousing film composers concert

Robert Moody
Winston-Salem Journal

Audiences entering Saturday night’s Winston-Salem Symphony concert at the Stevens Center may not have expected to be moved by a concert titled “Film Composers Onstage,” but the performance proved otherwise.

Rather than just being a set list of movie soundtracks, the concert used Hollywood as a common thread for programming its three heavy-hitting pieces by composers John Williams, Erich Korngold and Dmitri Shostakovich. As maestro Robert Moody explained from the podium, each of these three composers wrote for the silver screen during their careers. As interesting as a program of film music by Korngold and Shostakovich would have been, the evening’s selections of classical pieces by those two proved equally rewarding.

The first (and only) selection on the program that was directly tied to a film soundtrack was Williams’ “Dartmoor, 1912” from the film “War Horse.” It was a later entry in the composer and director’s film collaborations. Beginning with a rhapsodic flute solo (by principal flutist Kathryn Levy), the symphony captured Williams’ epic, yet sensitive tones, evoking imagery of British countrysides. In addition to the orchestra’s passionate performance, Williams’ music creates this imagery by paying direct homage to British composers, namely Percy Grainger and Ralph Vaughn-Williams. Moody and the orchestra treat the score as a serious classical piece, bringing out the nuances so stylishly, it was indeed a moving movie opener.

Yang, Moody and the symphony were all focused, creating a truly thrilling performance of this lesser-heard piece. 

The finale is a staple in loud, brash, creative endings, with Shostakovich creating controlled chaos through rapidly changing strings lines fighting the militaristic brass theme, accompanied by a thunderous timpani. The orchestra’s playing of the finale was rousing and awe-inspiring, as the consistency of the passion in the playing was felt throughout. Moody inspired the orchestra to find what empowered Shostakovich to express himself under authoritarian rule: his art. In politically charged times, it is comforting to know that art will always rise above anyone who attempts to censor it.
Read the rest of the review here