"Battlestar" composer gets geeks off the couch
By Ann Donahue
LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - With the advent of the fourth and final season of "Battlestar Galactica" on the Sci Fi Channel, there has been much bewailing and bemoaning about the lack of attention the show receives on some fronts.
Although the April 4 season premiere attracted more than 2 million viewers -- 40% more than the Season 3 finale -- the critical acclaim for "Battlestar Galactica" has never quite translated into stellar ratings.
That's the textbook definition of a cult show, the kind of program where you know you've found a fellow fan if they happen to drop the term "frakkin' toaster" into casual conversation. And though events tied to sci-fi shows might carry the imprimatur of geekdom and just-go-kiss-a-girl-already conventions, one of the duties of a cult show is to provide fodder for the cultists.
On Tuesday night, an overflow crowd gathered at the Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood to hear a concert conducted by Bear McCreary, the composer for "Battlestar Galactica." It was the second concert of the week, after a similar sold-out show Sunday night -- and a sign that such functions legitimately draw fans off the couch and out of the house.
McCreary's score is fully deserving of the fame, with its intense percussive mix of taiko drums and ethereal woodwinds. He also has one of the best blogs in the business (www.bearmccreary.com/blog). It's a fascinating look at the process of making music for film and television and the care he takes with aligning the score with the twists and turns of each character's plot lines.
And, on a show with other-earthly elements like "BSG," the creativity employed is pretty astounding. For the initiated, take the scene in last week's episode, "Six of One," where Baltar's consciousness splits and he winds up talking to himself in the cafeteria. The first half of the conversation uses Baltar's musical cue; the second half is the same piece of music played backward, triggered by the line in the script about a "grotesque, screeching cacophony." As McCreary points out, it's a musical palindrome, which reflects the dualities of the character. (For the uninitiated, check out reruns of "BSG" on SciFi.com, then come back and read this paragraph again.)
The crowd at the Roxy on Tuesday was appreciative of the complexities of McCreary's work and how it ties into the characters, going wild after each number and cheering in recognition when particular movements started.
McCreary was introduced by actress Kandyse McClure, who plays Petty Officer Dualla, to cries of "Damn! You're beautiful!" from the audience. "You guys are sweet," she replied. "I love sci-fi fans."
After all, music can even soothe the most savage Cylon.
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