One can only expect an intergalactic night of music and film when you pair up San Francisco’s beloved orchestra with one of Hollywood’s biggest Sci-Fi classics. What better place to showcase a science fiction epic that on the big digital screen at the magnificent Davie’s Symphony Hall and accompanied by the electrifying sounds of our beloved SF Symphony. This was the scene on Saturday night March 2, as we flowed into the halls. It was hard not to notice that the packed crowd was mixed with young and old fans and everyone seemed to look around frantically as though they were trying to spot a few space friendly friends that might be amongst us or at least a glimpse of hardcore fans dressed in space-age gear. As the film title appeared on the big screen and the anticipation grew, the Symphony organizers teased us with a short film of the signature melody being played by a trumpeter. As the colors shined on the walls of the Hall miming every note fans erupted in joyful laugher.

For thousands of years people of all ages have wondered what’s behind the stars, are we alone in this vast Universe and what might happen if we have a Close Encounter. Well that was the premise for Spielberg’s 1977 masterpiece where an ordinary electrical lineman from Indiana Roy Neary, played by the gifted Richard Dreyfus, has a close encounter with an unidentified flying object that disrupts his family life and ultimately changes his life forever. At the time of its release and since, Close Encounters has been widely touted as one of the most treasured and influential Science Fiction films of all time with a groundbreaking score written by the highly acclaimed John Williams.

The SF symphony always has a way of just pulling you into the music and in this case the film, unlike any other orchestra. The night was truly epic in every aspect! Conductor Joshua Gersen, who made his debut with the SF Symphony back in the Fall of 2013 and has been invited back many times, took the deck with confidence and prestige. His presence could be felt through every choreographed and robotic movement leading the orchestra and crowd on an exhilarating journey into the cosmos and beyond. With only one intermission break in between, the capacity audience was on the edge of their seats throughout and whether this was a new experience for fans or not, it was truly an unforgettable one.

Ah and how can one not hum along to the earworm signature melody of John William’s iconic five- tone motif, that scientists in the film used to communicate with the visiting spacecraft and has become one of the most recognized melodies in cinema history. Williams originally wrote over 300 examples of the motif for the film, before Spielberg finally chose one. As the final minutes of Close Encounters rolled on we finally meet the aliens driving the spacecraft and their crew and the audience oohed in satisfaction. Roy Neary’s life was about to change as Aliens picked him to join them on their ship. Neary is ushered onto the spacecraft by what looked

like minion aliens haha and as they boarded, we could all feel his heartbeat with excitement and joy.

We can only wonder what galaxies or planets he would visit and encounter and if he would ever come back to share his journeys. Gersen and the Symphony played the final epic moments like seasoned veterans and not a soul in the audience got up until they were completely done and the credits stopped rolling. We were on our feet as the place erupted with cheers and applause to commemorate and show gratitude to everyone that made this night possible.

All I can say is this was definitely one of the best combinations of films and music that I’ve seen and the SF Symphony just seems to get better and better.

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