In concert: Saluting Stu Phillips reviewed

file.jpgThe Golden State Pops Orchestra paid tribute to Stu Phillips last night in the beautiful, 1930s art-deco Warner Music Hall. I didn't think I was going to be able to make it to the concert, but I was able to at the last minute and was glad I did.

I admit I was a little disappointed when I first saw the program; Stu had told me that they would be performing Knight Rider during the concert, but it wasn't listed on the schedule. These things happen, but I was still looking forward to the other performances. First, conductor Steven Alan Fox led the orchestra performing the end credits to Star Trek First Contact (not one of Stu's pieces). They also performed a classical piece Stu composed, to show that Stu wasn't just a "Hollywood" composer.

Stu came on stage and led the orchestra performing movements from Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers, and an independent film he scored, "The Name of the Game is…Kill." Before each piece, Stu would give a brief overview of the storylines and characters. He was very funny about it all, and had a tongue-in-cheek attitude about how shows were a bit different in the 70s. The BSG theme in particular was absolutely amazing performed live.


At the end of the concert, Steven Fox came back on stage for an encore, performing the theme from the X-Files. Pretty cool. When they were finished, the sound crew played a recording of Knight Rider over the sound system. It was a nice consolation to at least hear the song for the exit music. It looked like it was a last-minute decision, because the conductor seemed confused by it. He didn't know what to do, and kept gesturing as if to say "are we supposed to stay here? should we get off stage?" After about 20 seconds he just shrugged, raised his baton, the recorded music stopped and the orchestra took over live. Bazinga. It was very cool, and a fun "gotcha" trick.

After the concert, there was a VIP Reception which also served as an 80th birthday party for Stu. (80?! Happy Birthday Stu!) Stu wore a Battlestar Galactica T-shirt during the concert, but for the reception he changed into a KnightCon 2004 shirt (the Germany show.) I think that's a testament to how fondly Stu still thinks of Knight Rider and how much he enjoyed the convention. When I saw Stu, he "apologized" for not having more Knight Rider stuff in the concert. I put "apologized" in quotes because he had absolutely nothing to be sorry for; it was a fantastic show as is. He explained that it's tough to do KR in concert, because there really aren't long orchestrations for the show, the way there are with Galactica. No worries.

I also spoke with conductor Steven Fox to thank him for including Knight Rider in the concert. He told the story of how he went to Stu's house and Stu was playing all sorts of music for him, asking "well what about this piece? what about this one?" Stu then played Knight Rider, and Steven said he was brought back to being a kid, watching the show, and said they HAD to include it. So they added the little tribute at the end.

[Originally from our forum thread]