Published on June 26th, 2014 | by Bryce Smith


Collaborative, cinematic magic from the Grand Cinema and Tacoma Symphony Orchestra

On June 20, Urban Grace Church hosted The Grand Cinema and the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra collaborative Evening of Cinematic Music.  This first-rate score revival concert was performed by Tacoma Symphony Orchestra’s string nonet as well as local singer-songwriters (three of whom aren’t strangers to Post Defiance). With the evening’s success, Tacoma will likely see this event again.

“This event is a great opportunity for two arts organizations in the Tacoma area to work together and The Grand hopes that it becomes an annual event” remarked Katlyn, a representative of The Grand Cinema working the event.

Doors opened one hour before the concert’s commencement, leaving plenty of room for refreshment-acquiring, banter-having, and silent-auction consideration. All proceeds raised by the event supported programming at The Grand and Tacoma Symphony. Rick Stockstad, the piano accompaniment for four of the evening’s renditions, provided soundtrack.


As curtain time approached, I took refuge in the balcony, and looking around, I realized this was an “evening”—a lovely, formal, proper date night. I then recognized Stockstad’s playing in the background: Sondheim’s Send in the Clowns. The witty piece was quickly rendered immaterial as applause greeted the players of the string nonet who took the stage for the first piece of the night.

Expertly performed, memory-evoking sounds flowed from behind the proscenium in Urban Grace’s single balcony theatre —iconic arrangements that inspired an entire movie’s worth of feeling. Radio personality Steve Reeder, Northwest Public Radio’s classical music authority, lent a fitting hand as narrator of the concert.


The concert, loosely abiding by chronological order, began with Max Steiner’s “Tara’s Theme” from 1939’s Gone with the Wind. A grand, sweeping composition full of longing, it perfectly demonstrated how music has the incredible ability to depict character motivation across just a few pages of sheet music.

The first half of the concert acted as an introductory course to movie scores: Bernard Herrmann’s Psycho theme, Leonard Bernstein’s “America” from West Side Story, Richard Rodgers’s (of Rodgers & Hammerstein) “Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music, Nino Rota’s “Speak Softly Love” theme from The Godfather, and rounding off the night, a John Williams Medley comprising Star WarsJurassic Park, and Raiders of the Lost Ark themes.


Grace Sullivan takes the stage. Photo by Scott Haydon

Between performances of the classics, local singer-songwriters took to the stage: Apartment Lights’ Grace Sullivan gave proper homage to Pinocchio’s “When You Wish Upon a Star” and Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ “Moon River.” Elliot Stockstad performed the Singing in the Rain theme complete with Gene Kelly inspired choreography and umbrella (pageantry which didn’t go unappreciated by the audience).


Elliot Stockstad channels Gene Kelly. Photo by Scott Haydon

Elk & Boar performed an appositely somber spin on Mary Poppins’ “Chim Chim Cheree.” William Jordan sung Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You” beautifully, full of genuine feeling for the lyrics.

“We had about 15 minutes to practice that, so I was happy that it went as well as it did.” Jordan said of his performance with The Tenants’ Mitchell Dorn, who contributed his guitar to the act.  “[The Tenants] had just gotten off tour and I’d been busy finishing up my new EP ‘Land of the Lost’ which should be coming in mid-July.” Jordan will be opening for Color Me Badd, July 26th at Jazzbones.


From left to right, guitarist Mitchell Dorn and singer William Jordan. Photo by Scott Haydon

During intermission, each of the artists welcomed guests’ individual praise and questions, and offered their music for sale or donation.

Sadly, I had to leave shortly after the intermission—missing both Kye Alfred Hillig’s performances (“Streets of Philadelphia” from Philadelphia and “The Weary Kind” from Crazy Heart), Elk and Boar’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “Things Have Changed” from Wonder Boys, and TSO’s “James Bond Medley” among other celebrated works.


Kye Alfred Hillig gives the crowd a grin. Photo by Scott Haydon

The first, tentatively annual Evening of Cinematic Music was certainly a night worth catching. The 101 class taken, I look forward to the innumerable musical combinations The Grand Cinema and Tacoma Symphony Orchestra can employ to revivify the concerts’ program for summers to come.

All photographs by Scott Haydon


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About the Author

Intrepid and ambitious, Bryce Smith is a Tacoma writer and actor with an insatiable interest in all varieties of experience.

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