Morphing with Comic-Con

Posted: July 1st, 2016 | Arts & Entertainment, Featured, Features, Music | No Comments

The Symphony’s fantastical adventures with live music

By David Dixon

Last summer, the San Diego Symphony got a lot of worldwide attention for performing unannounced live music from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” for 6,500 fans during Comic-Con International.

This year during the annual convention, the Symphony has even more on its plate, contributing to an open-air movie premiere and two video-game-related evenings at Copley Symphony Hall.

On July 20, timed for the 50th anniversary of Gene Rodenberry’s “Star Trek” television series, Paramount Studios — in partnership with IMAX Corporation and the San Diego Symphony — will present the world premiere of “Star Trek Beyond.”

Eckedard Stier, composer for “Final Symphony” (Photo by Philippe Ramakers)

Eckedard Stier, composer for “Final Symphony” (Photo by Philippe Ramakers)

Taking place at the Symphony’s Bayside Summer Nights venue at the Embarcadero Marina Park South, Paramount has hired the San Diego Symphony to perform the film’s score, written by Michael Giacchino, live during the screening.

This will be the first time an IMAX film has played outdoors.

“Star Trek Beyond” stars John Cho, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoë Saldana, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin and Idris Elba. Director Justin Lin and cast members will appear at the special screening.

The night is expected to be a bittersweet one for all those in attendance, since Yelchin died tragically June 19, after being crushed by his own vehicle outside his Los Angeles home.

Expect a tribute to the talented young actor.

The film will be released to theaters and IMAX on July 22.

On July 21 the San Diego Symphony will feature “Final Symphony,” which has music from “Final Fantasy VI,” “VII,” and “X.”

Producer Thomas Bocker wanted to create a video game concert, with no visuals, and only contain music.

“Our approach is to retell the stories of the games through music, without the need for video screens and game footage,” he said. “You don’t have to be familiar with the ‘Final Fantasy’ franchise in order to enjoy the music.”

Conductor and non-gamer, Eckehard Stier, is amazed at the emotional power of the melodies from Nobuo Uematsu and Masashi Hamauzu.

“The use of classical elements, the intelligent combination of the music and its deep emotional impact is just breathtaking,” he said.

Link from “The Legend of Zelda” (Courtesy San Diego Symphony)

Link from “The Legend of Zelda”
(Courtesy San Diego Symphony)

Bocker and Stier have traveled around the world to help present “Final Symphony.”

For Bocker, a performance at the Tokyo Bunka Kaikan made for a memorable experience.

“Final Symphony’ was so well received that our concert became the first ever performance of orchestral video game music in the country to be honored with standing ovations,” he said.

“Final Fantasy VII” is considered to be one of the best role-playing video games of all time. Fans should be excited for the second half of the event, which is a 45-minute symphony based on “VII.”

The musical composition is the highlight for Stier.

“The symphony is demanding for everybody — orchestra, conductor, and the audience,” he said. “But it is a fantastic experience. Even for the regular listener, it will be an absolute surprise.”

Friday, July 22, includes the third installment of “The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses” at Copley Symphony Hall.

Unlike “Final Symphony,” music from Koji Kondo, Hajime Wakai, and other composers, is used with clips from popular games in the series. Some of the famous entries acknowledged are “Ocarina of Time,” “A Link to the Past,” and “Twilight Princess.”

What makes “Symphony of the Goddesses-Master Quest” unique is that melodies from Nintendo’s 3DS game, “Tri Force Heroes,” are part of the evening.

“Symphony of the Goddesses” has received a lot of acclaim and was a part of an episode of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” Conductor Amy Andersson and musically gifted artists are trying to give audiences an epic experience.

Symphony musicians are continuing to show their versatility by undertaking three extremely unique presentations. Given that the attendance for Comic-Con has risen to over 130,000, fans should buy tickets to these stand-alone events in advance.

With the convention becoming increasingly difficult to get into, it’s refreshing that the orchestra allows the ability to enjoy the festivities for those not fortunate enough to have scored a badge.

The world premiere of Paramount Studio’s “Star Trek Beyond” will be shown July 20 at 7:30 p.m. at the Embarcadero Marina Park South, located directly behind the San Diego Convention Center.

Information on tickets for this special screening has not yet been made available but is expected in the coming weeks. A number of tickets were distributed at a recent “Star Trek” fan event in Los Angeles.

“Final Symphony: A Final Fantasy Concert” and “The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses-Master Quest” will be performed on July 21 and 22, respectively, at Jacobs Music Center, Copley Symphony Hall, located at 750 B St., Downtown. For tickets or more information, visit or call 619-235-0800.

—A fan of film and theater from a very young age, David Dixon has written reviews and features for various print and online publications. You can reach him at

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