Yesterday (Sunday 1st November) was the World Premier of Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall, and I, with a few friends, attended the evening showing of this unique spectacular.
The series of concerts that will travel the globe is in celebration of Star Trek’s 50th anniversary of it’s first airing in September 1966, with the Original Series. Since then, Star Trek has spawned 12 movies, 4 other live action television series, an animated series and numerous video games, novels, audio books and comics, cementing it’s place as one of the worlds most loved and successful science fiction series.
The evening began with a side show to the main program, The Science of Star Trek, presented by Roberto Trotta, theoretical cosmologist at Imperial College London where he studies dark matter, dark energy and the Big Bang.
Explaining the enormous size of the galaxy and the billions of potential star systems out there that could support intelligent life, Trotta shows that seeking out new life forms should be very straight forward, but and it’s a huge but, traveeling the stars to meet them is very near impossible, throwing a huge spanner in the works of Trek’s most fundamental technology – Warp Drive.
Another piece of treknology you can forget about is the transporter, although a single atom has been transported the vast distance of 21 meters, moving the billions of atoms that make up the human body, transport it thousands of miles and reassemble again into the same person cannot work due to quantum mechanics.
Doesn’t look good does it?
But the main event is where it counts, the huge visual and musical library that makes up the Star Trek universe, albeit a universe that will stay within the realms of science-fiction, is what this show is all about.
The London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Justin Freer, played some of Star Trek’s most memorable movie and television scores live under the big screen, which showed a montage of clips spanning the entire Trek universe.
The very first theme to be played was Jerry Goldsmith’s iconic main theme from The Motion Picture, and on screen a montage of clips mainly from the movie and the rest of Trek lore, which came as a surprise to most of us as I thinks we were expecting to see images that matched the particular piece of music being played.
Between each piece of music, a voice over from Michael Dorn prepared us for the message the next piece of music and the accompanying visuals would bring. These themes ranged from utopia that Star Trek represents, the notion of seeking new life, the human instinct to explore and also the need to fight for what we stand for. Each piece of music and video would encaspulate that purpose, really bringing to life all the very different messages Star Trek has brought to us for nearly 50 years.
Iconic moments would feature in their entirety too, such as Kirk and Spock’s fight to the death in “Amok Time” was played out with the entire visuals to match, as did the score of “Return to Tomorrow” (TOS), which featured Kirk’s “Risk Speech”, “The Doomsday Machine” (TOS) which showed the tense moment where Kirk had to be beamed back to the Enterprise before the planet killer was destroyed by the USS Constellation, and Sisko’s “I can Live With It” speech from “In The Pale Moonlight” (DS9).
The one surprise for me at least, was that the epic scores by James Horner only featured once in the entire show, the score chosen was the Epilogue and End Title sequence from “The Wrath of Khan”, most of us were expecting to hear “Battle in the Mutara Nebula” from TWOK and “Stealing the Enterprise” from the “Search For Spock”, especially since his tragic death earlier this year.
After a short interval, guest conductor Ron Jones took to the stage to conduct his score from the video game “Star Trek: Starfleet Academy”, he also composed the music from The Next Generation’s “Best of Both Worlds”, and he was followed shortly thereafter by another guest – Jay Chattaway who conducted his score for the TNG episode “The Inner Light” which was fantastic. Chattaway has also scored for DS9, Voyager and Enterprise, some of which were also featured as part of the playlist.
The quality of the music was superb, although there were scores that stood out from the rest, such as Jerry Goldsmith’s “Motion Picture” theme, James Horner’s “Wrath of Khan” theme, which received the loudest applause, Cliff Eidelman’s “The Undiscovered Country” and Leonard Rosenman’s score for “The Voyage Home”.
One score though, just didn’t have the same magnitude to it, which was “Enterprising Young Men” from 2009’s “Star Trek” movie, maybe because the orchestra seemed a little smaller than it did at last years Star Trek Live concerts. Also the evening ended with a rather strange version to the more usual tones of the infamous Alexander Courage main TOS theme. Very odd, although some really did like it.
Overall though, the evening was a fantastic experience, and one I’ll remember for quite a while!
Here are a number of photo’s from the night and the full playlist.