This is not a typical night at Benaroya Hall. As the lights dim, there is no need for introductions; after a brief overture, the iconic theme of the James Bond franchise has everyone immediately captivated.
The shorter style of the songs makes the performance enjoyable even for those who might typically have trouble sitting through the symphony. The conductor tells jokes, the vocalist swaps outfits for every song, and one piece even features a cell phone as a soloist in a concerto.
The jazz and rock feel in many of the songs provides a refreshing change from the typical chamber music and concertos of the symphony. Saxophone solos and epic drum fills riddle the songs that are taken from both the classic 1960’s films and the modern Daniel Craig movies. The themes from The Pink Panther, Austin Powers, and Mission: Impossible all make excellent cameo appearances. My only qualm is that towards the end, the final medley seems a little cluttered and drags a little.
The scores of the songs remain mostly unchanged from their film debuts. The arrangements do not innovate the rhythms or melodies of Bond, but provide the original take on the themes. “Diamonds are Forever,” “Goldfinger,” and “Dr. No” keep the charm unaccompanied by Connery or Brosnan on camera. I appreciated these faithful interpretations, but someone looking for totally new orchestrations of the classic songs will probably be disappointed.
The performance is overall an extremely entertaining experience, and a great first show for newcomers to the symphony. At slightly under two hours, the show is shorter than a typical performance at Benaroya, making it more conducive to a less veteran crowd. I highly recommend Bond & Beyond to any lover of spy movies, symphony lover or otherwise, for a great time.
Bond & Beyond is closed, but, if you're looking for a good symphonic experience for first-timers, check out Beyond the Score: Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 27, a multi-media experience with local actors (including Teen Tix Crush-of-the-Month Sara Mountjoy-Pepka!), Sunday, March 4, 2012. More info here.