2001: A concert odyssey blasts off in London

Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:50am EDT
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By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" made the timpani intro of Richard Strauss's "Thus Sprach Zarathustra" a cliche for a dramatic entrance and the crescendo of Gyorgy Ligeti's "Atmospheres" a cult classic.

Now fans of one of the most influential soundtracks of all time can hear it in sound that will out-Dolby Dolby for an ambitious programme at London's Southbank Center that combines a new print of Kubrick's 1968 sci-fi masterpiece with a large chorus and full orchestra playing the film music live.

"It's absolute goosebumps," said Gillian Moore, head of contemporary culture at Southbank, where two concert showings of "2001: A Space Odyssey" will be given next week (April 7 and 8).

"It's like an opera," added German conductor Andre de Ridder, whose job it is to coordinate the massive forces of the orchestra and chorus with a film that was never meant, unlike some silent films, to have a live musical accompaniment.

"I would say it is the perfect marriage of sound, theater, drama and visual art," he added -- covering all the bases.

The two screenings mark a return engagement for an experiment that sold out last year and is one of the main attractions of a month-long "Ether" festival of contemporary classical and art music that has dance and other strands thrown in for good measure.

One of those offerings -- sure to appeal to fans of James Cameron's "Avatar" -- is a 3D performance of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" with a dancer inside a cube whose movements are recorded by cameras and projected onto a screen. The audience will see effects that at one point make the dancer's movements look like snowflakes, and hear the music played live (April 23).

Kubrick, who embraced cutting-edge technology and whose special effects in "2001" still look futuristic 40 years later, would have gotten a kick out of the 3D ballet, and the efforts that have gone into making his sci-fi opus concert friendly.   Continued...