PBSO to Bring Classic Film Scores to Washington County

By Lura Jackson


Most of us have favorite movies – and, in many cases, those movies have scores that resonate with us, simultaneously reminding us of those most engaging moments when the music is soaring as well as of the overall impact of the film itself. In an effort to capture that experience and combine it with the thrill of live performance, the Passamaquoddy Bay Symphony Orchestra [PBSO] is preparing for a special concert series that will feature classical pieces used in some of the most beloved movies of all time.

Among the pieces that will be performed are Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra (from 2001: A Space Odyssey), Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries, Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake Suite (from Fantasia). Less familiar “miniature gems” will also be shared, including Gluck’s Dance of the Blessed Spirits, Lehar’s Gold and Silver Waltz, Delibes’ Pizzicati, and Rozsa’s Beauty and Grace, provides Ann Simmons of the PBSO.

In advance of the performances, which will be held on Friday, November 30th in Eastport at the Eastport Arts Center at 7 p.m., in Machias on December 1st at the Centre Street Congregational Church at 3 p.m., and on December 2nd in Calais at the First Congregational Church at 3 p.m., we reached out to conductor Trond Saeverud for a Q&A about what attendees can expect.  

How did the idea to do classic movie scores come about?

“Well – less than one percent of the population listen regularly to classical music, yet we all watch movies! Most people are surprised when they find out how many of their favorite movies – or video games – use classical music; usually to intensify the emotional impact. So most have already enjoyed classical music in some form and a few new listeners may be open to giving it a chance in an actual concert.”

Do you have a personal favorite movie score?

“Ohh, there are so many; it is difficult to choose! Maybe the eerie score to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly or, in a totally different vein: Lawrence of Arabia.  Hitchcock has some great music, of course. Sylvester Stallone makes surprisingly interesting music choices in his Rocky movies. Kurosawa’s Ran is also exciting – especially the sudden silences at the most intense moments. Strangely, silences (rests) are important and often very intense parts of our performances.”

How did you select the pieces the orchestra will be performing?

“I did a lot of research, cross-referenced several lists – and found pieces that had been used effectively in many different movies. Then I looked for variety within the program and made sure each piece had something special.  And, as with all our programs, they all had to be good pieces that we would enjoy playing, and that are fun to rehearse and practical and realistic for us to perform.”  

Have there been any particularly challenging pieces thus far (assuming you’ve gotten into the swing of rehearsals)? 

“As usual, it is the simpler, more quiet pieces that are scariest to perform – transparent and revealing – so we are spending most time practicing those. The big, loud ones give us much more cover!”

Do you enjoy performing at the Congregational Church, and do you think it will provide suitable acoustics for the occasion?


“Yes! We enjoy very much performing at the Congregational Church!  It is a wonderful venue and we are very grateful for the opportunity to perform there.  The audience is great and inspires us to give everything – and the people in charge have been extremely helpful and welcoming.  We always look very much forward to our Calais performances!”