Friday, December 2

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra: Film Music Gala – Hull City Hall

It takes something special for my goosebumps to reveal themselves but, my goodness, on Thursday night, the minute the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra struck up the opening chords of the main theme to The Big Country movie, my skin erupted in ‘em.

The animated conductor, Stephen Bell, was the person responsible for my eruptions, as he was the one wielding the baton, looking like he was enjoying every minute for the couple of hours the orchestra performed.

This extremely talented bunch of musicians launched the hall’s Classics Season and the programme, as the title suggests, was bursting with well-known themes from blockbuster movies of the past five decades.

The beautiful City Hall stage was the perfect backdrop for the immaculately dressed ladies and gentlemen and their gleaming instruments. Only maestro Bell’s waistcoat outshone them.

By the sound of the lengthy applause that greeted the end of every tune, the decent-sized audience appreciated every crochet and quaver.

Musically untalented me was always given the triangle to “ping” during my schooldays, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate amazing orchestral sounds when I hear them.

Photo: Ben Wright

After the aforementioned opening theme tune, we were treated to the likes of main themes from Jurassic Park, Out Of Africa, Schindler’s List and The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring: not forgetting the catchy march from The Great Escape (I tried but failed to whistle along) and the beautiful I See You, from Avatar.

The rousing 633 Squadron theme tune led us into the interval, allowing us and the talents on stage to catch our breath.

Those pesky goosebumps returned immediately the second half began, with main themes from Superman, Born Free, Wallace And Gromit, and Gladiator, filling the hall.

The musicians had very short rests, periodically, when conductor Bell chatted to his audience, educating and amusing in equal measure, giving us the lowdown on such great composers as John Williams, John Barry and Han Zimmer, to name just three of the geniuses whose creations we had been enjoying.

You didn’t have to be a movie buff to recognise the tunes from Indiana Jones And The Raiders Of The Lost Ark or Saving Private Ryan, but I couldn’t relate to the music from Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dean Man’s Chest – maybe I was too busy drooling over the movie’s star, Johnny Depp, when I watched the film.

To my mind, there was only one tune this fabulous group of musicians could end a very entertaining night with and that was the music of Star Wars. We were treated to three tunes from this Hollywood blockbuster – Princess Leia’s Theme, Imperial March (which vividly conjured up images of baddie Darth Vader), and then the unforgettable Main Theme.

The orchestra and conductor left the stage to the applause of the appreciative audience whose standing ovation gave me, for one, the chance to un-numb my derriere – after two hours those City Hall seats can be torture.

The launch of the Hull City Hall Classics Season. The season continues with performances on Wednesday, November 9th; Saturday, November 26th; Thursday, February 2nd, 2023; Saturday, February 25th; Thursday, March 23rd; Thursday, May 4th; Saturday, May 13th and Thursday, June 15th. Tickets from £18. To book and for more information call (01482) 300306 or visit

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Stephen Bell

Leader/solo violin: Tamás András

Reviewer: Jackie Foottit

Reviewed: 29 September 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★