Movie theme music has become as popular as Billboard chart toppers.
With that in mind, the Mid-Columbia Symphony will celebrate the music from several favorite movies, including Disney films, at the kickoff of its 2013-14 concert season Sept. 14 in the auditorium at Richland High School. Concert time is 8 p.m.
"Disney (films) may appeal to parents and kids, but it is the music that provides a lot of happy associations for many," said symphony maestro Nicholas Wallin. "We are playing the theme songs from several hit movies. We have Disney tunes, Titanic, Apollo 13, Lord of the Rings, Victory at Sea and, of course, Star Wars.
"Music from Lord of the Rings and Star Wars is some of my very favorite film music and the best written. I listen to it often and even teach a course on how that music developed out of the operatic tradition established by Richard Wagner."
The music from Victory at Sea evolved in the late 1940s when NBC executives received access to a significant collection of film footage from World War II, Wallin said. With the footage, the TV network put together a 13-episode documentary on the naval side of the war effort, he said. It was later made into a movie.
Wallin added that movie theme concerts, like pops concerts, are appealing to a wide range of people, not just symphony lovers.
Dick Pratt, president of the symphony board, couldn't agree more.
"In recent years, we've had several conversations about a pops concert that would be more attractive to people unfamiliar with the symphony," Pratt said. "We are always interested in expanding our audience, and this is no exception. It should be fun, and much of the music will be familiar."
Richland resident Betsy Vance will be guest conductor for the Summertime piece. She purchased the opportunity to be a guest conductor for one composition at a symphony fundraiser last year.
"I'm excited but terrified," Vance said. "Reading a conductor's score is harder than anything I've ever read. Each page, you have 15 sections that you have to bring in, cut off, get the orchestra louder, get them quieter and all other kinds of things. For me, it's quite like figuring out advanced algebra."
Vance takes a humorous look at herself and her conducting skills.
"I think the Star Wars piece will be a big hit. My one song, Summertime, probably won't be a hit, but it will certainly do something to humanize it," she joked.
Here's a look at the rest of the symphony's 2013-14 season:
-- Dec. 13-15: The symphony will provide the live music for the Mid-Columbia Ballet's annual Nutcracker Suite.
-- Jan. 12: Folk Songs, with guests Mid-Columbia Mastersingers. Music includes folk songs from the British Isles, America and Estonia.
-- March 1: Youth features winners of the annual Young Artists Competition performing with the symphony. The music of Mozart and Shostakovich are featured.
-- May 17: Nature, music that celebrates the beauty and majesty of Mother Nature.
Season tickets to the symphony cost from $110 to $190. Individual tickets to each concert cost from $25 to $50 plus service charges and are available at the symphony office at 1177 Jadwin Ave., Suite 103, Richland, or at midcolumbiasymphony.org. Tickets purchased at the office avoid service charges.