Home News NY Philharmonic gives ‘E.T.’ the ultimate surround sound treatment

NY Philharmonic gives ‘E.T.’ the ultimate surround sound treatment


The New York Philharmonic is closing the tenth season of its popular “Art of the Score” series with a crowd favorite: “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.”

This weekend, the orchestra’s guest conductor, Constantine Kitsopoulos, will give movie and music lovers the rare opportunity to watch the 1982 sci-fi classic while immersed in a live performance of its Oscar-winning soundtrack.

Dubbed “the ultimate surround sound movie event,” the beloved series of live-to-film concerts at Lincoln Center has highlighted the relationship between music and cinema since its inaugural season in September 2013.

The performances feature screenings of popular films with New York’s world-famous orchestra performing the score. The offerings cover a wide range — from Fritz Lang’s 1927 silent classic “Metropolis” to the Marvel’s acclaimed 2018 blockbuster “Black Panther.”

Constantine Kitsopoulos leads the New York Philharmonic in performing scores for Jurassic Park by John Williams, 11/9/2022. Photo by Chris Lee

Films such as “Jurassic Park” and “Jaws,” scored by Oscar-winning composer John Williams, are often included in the yearly presentations. But Williams’ collaboration with Spielberg on “E.T.,” which was last performed by the orchestra in 2017, has a special place in Kitsopoulos’ heart.

“It’s actually my favorite John Williams score,” the New Jersey-based maestro told the Daily News ahead of the weekend’s three performances. “It’s such a beautiful score. The music is just so lyrical and so emotional.”

“E.T.,” tells the story of young Elliot and his new best friend — a lovable and sweet extra-terrestrial being who heals flowers and fingers, but who really just wants to go home to his planet.

The universal tale of true friendship and transcendent love became a pop culture phenomenon when it was released in the summer of 1982. Its record-breaking success can also be credited to the film’s memorable score.

Williams’ epic music will forever be linked to one of the most unforgettable scenes of modern cinema, when a bike-riding Elliot flies into the California sky in a rush to help his out-of-this-world friend.

“John Williams has this ability to put the human condition into music [which then] drives the story forward in such a beautiful way,” said Kitsopoulos.

The conductor has a repertoire of about 40 different film scores he has conducted over the past 20 years. Kitsopoulos has an extensive list of credits on Broadway and has conducted orchestras around the world, but nothing quite compares to the multi-sensorial experience of watching a classic film surrounded by live music.

“If you go to a movie theater and watch a movie, the music is very much mixed into the background,” he said. “So a lot of times, audiences in a movie theater are not necessarily aware of the music so much,” and they end up missing a lot.

“Here, what people are going to hear is all the detail,” he said. “The sound of a live symphony orchestra washing over them [is] a visceral experience that you can’t get anywhere else.”

“The Art of the Score: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, directed by Steven Spielberg” will be performed by the New York Philharmonic at Wu Tsai Theater at David Geffen Hall. on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and on Sunday at 2 p.m. Captions for the film will be displayed on the screen.

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