Star Trek: The Music

Last weekend Star Trek fans in Toronto were the recipients of a special treat. The world-renowned Toronto Symphony Orchestra, conducted by National Medal of Arts recipient Erich Kunzel, performed a collection of music from Star Trek, both the original series, several of the movies, and the later series.

Conducting the TSO was maestro Erich Kunzel. Kunzel has built a distinguished career directing orchestras around the world, playing classical pieces by Puccini, Tchaikovsky, and Strauss. But it’s obvious he’s just as comfortable with the Pops, conducting the performance of movie scores by composers like Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner and John Williams.

Kunzel’s love of the genre is evidenced by the titles in his discography, themes from movies like Batman, Twilight Zone, Jurrasic Park, and of course Star Trek. It certainly came through in his enthusiastic performance in Toronto.

The program began with a suite from The Menagerie, the original unaired pilot that began the Star Trek legend, and proceeded with main themes or end titles from several Trek movies and the series. A highlight was the Klingon Battle theme from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. That particular piece kept the percussionists busy with a variety of instruments including angklungs, bamboo rattles from Indonesia.

Unfortunately the program did not include the theme from the latest Star Trek series, Enterprise. It seems many Trek fans favor orchestral scores over the contemporary melody and lyrics the producers chose for this prequel series.

Hosting the evening at the acclaimed Roy Thomson Hall were John de Lancie (Q from the Next Generation) and Robert Picardo (the Emergency Medical Hologram from Voyager.) The two gentlemen introduced each piece of music with Trek trivia and personal anecdotes.

De Lancie told the story of his audition for the role of Q and how he at first skipped it in favor of his stage career.

Picardo confessed that on what should have been a hot date with his future wife, she was more interested in watching Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan than in his romantic overtures.

Interspersed with the music and the narration were sound effects from the various shows. It was amusing to name the effects before de Lancie and Picardo identified them, but not much of a challenge for die-hard Star Trek fans. It was made plain that if you can identify the sound of the Genesis Effect from The Wrath of Khan, you “need to get a life.” It’s likely that the majority of those in the audience fit into that category.

While most of those in attendance were dressed casually, a few were attired in formal evening wear one expects to see when the TSO performs more traditional classical music. However, about an equal number were dressed appropriate to the theme; there were Star Fleet insignias and uniforms in view, and even a couple of Klingons, forehead ridges and all.

Any true Star Trek fan, in fact anyone with a love for music that ignites the imagination, will be sure to enjoy Kunzel’s live performances. And if you can’t wait for such an opportunity, check out some of Kunzel’s recordings on Telarc Records.

You won’t be disappointed.