On a cold evening, a strange cross-section of society descended upon the Manchester Arena. Their reason? To crumble before the musical genius of Hans Zimmer. The German-born film score titan has written for over 150 movies, including Dunkirk, Sherlock Holmes and Interstellar. Although not there on the night, his trusted conductor Gavin Greenaway breathed life into none other than the Symphony Orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre of Belarus. Anyone that knows me will tell you I’m a sucker for symphonic celebrations of renowned composers, but this really was something else.
As the seats filled up almost to capacity, the anticipation grew, and when the orchestra filed onto the stage, it grew more still. When the lights went off, and the custom made stage started glowing, I didn’t think there could be any more anticipation, but then the screens behind the stage lit up, and there was. Finally, with the atmosphere more intense than a camping holiday, the music started playing. The theme from the Dark Night Rises provided us with a dramatic start, a brassy, drum-heavy number that really got people going.
After some fairly psychedelic visuals on the huge suspended screens behind the stage, the music stopped, and Hans greeted us. These pre-recorded messages were placed between each piece, and gave Zimmer a chance to tell us about their composition. He also sat and talked with various directors and musicians he has worked in.
One by one, we were treated to the scores of films, old and new. This reflected in the crowd, ranging from children to the silver-haired, all transfixed by the music. Looking around, I could see no-one talking, and barely any on their phones; everyone allowed themselves to float away from the real world for a few short hours. I hadn’t been to another orchestral concert in Manchester, but there certainly was something special about the dedication everyone had just to simply listening.
Gladiator, The Lion King, and The Da Vinci Code all came and went. Zimmer made it so all the pieces performed on the night were slight variations from the originals, so that we, the audience, were hearing something unique. The singers and some of the more permanent collaborator musicians really showed their passion. With the near permanent smiles on their faces, you could tell they either loved what they were doing, or were paid too much to care.
Finally, with the night coming to a close, we were joined by Hans for the last time, playing Time from Inception on his piano along with the orchestra. It was beautiful. The applause was raucous, loud enough even to draw the orchestra back on for an encore of Pirates of the Caribbean. It was not a night that is high on my list of things to forget.