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Ennio Morricone live at Waterfront Hall

Morricone brings a taste of the Wild West to Belfast when he performs scores from famous western films through the sounds of an orchestra over 200 musicians strong.

Francis Jones, 03 Nov 2008

For sheer scale there are few musical events that could possibly compare to this rare appearance by Ennio Morricone. With the Roma Sinfonietta Orchestra and the Belfast Philharmonic Choir joining the Maestro, there are close to 200 musicians on stage. As a spectacle it is undoubtedly impressive. However, it is the epic nature of the compositions and the brute emotional power of Morricone’s work that is truly awe-inspiring.

There is a communal surge of appreciation as the opening bars of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly ring out. Those lassoing “Ay-ee-ay-ee-ay” notes are not simply synonymous with the film, they have transcended it. Like hooves across the prairie, A Fistful Of Dynamite and Once Upon A Time In The West come thundering at us, strings soaring and percussion throbbing. This is nothing less than the sound of the Wild West itself. Indeed these and many of Morricone’s other, non-Western, film scores fill a groove in the collective unconscious. As such, it is a wonder to hear and see them unfurl in the live environment, to be reminded how the instantly recognisable music for The Untouchables or Once Upon A Time In America is so brilliantly arranged, a battalion of musicians bringing everything to vibrant, Technicolor life.

However, it is fitting that his work on The Mission – a movie which on one level shows how music can be a means of salvation – provides the most stirring moments of the evening. In fact there is no better, more succinct description of what has been a truly celestial performance than its ‘On Earth As It Is On Heaven’. Marvellous.

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