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Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular 2014 Review

K-Ci Williams reviews the recent Doctor Who concert held in New Zealand.

Doctor-Who-Symphonic-Spectacular-2014

In August 2013, announcements were made regarding the latest season of Doctor Who tours – to which our friends across the ditch in Australia were once again privy. The surprise that overcame the majority of New Zealanders at the time when Wellington was confirmed as the latest location for the concert season was, in its essence, indescribable. To ensure seating at the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular, all measures were taken to prepare for online bookings. To my delight, I was placed in the second row right in front of the orchestra! With Wellington five hours away (by car) from my city, it has been a weekend trip – a trip that has reaffirmed why Doctor Who is the best television show in the universe. 

Doctor-Who-Symphonic-Spectacular-2014-cybermanThe Doctor Who team were kind enough to allow all matter of props and models to be placed on show in an exhibition. From murals featuring all eleven regenerated Doctors, to life size production models of a Cyberiad Cyberman and Classic Dalek, this was the first stop in the Doctor Who trip; quite honestly it felt like I was still in the fiftieth anniversary year. Thank goodness photography was allowed, as I snapped a few with David Tennant’s costume and the Raggedy Doctor too. As you would expect, anticipation was rising by this time. Whovians donned TARDIS scarves, Dalek scarves and the god-tier Tom Baker scarf which developed a unifying atmosphere: a sort of unspoken but strong bond between everyone who had ever loved the show.

Doctor-Who-Symphonic-Spectacular-2014-strangeFifth Doctor, Peter Davison was essentially the heart of the show. Presenting quips about New Zealand’s cricket team (along with referencing Brendan McCullum’s record breaking feat) and wider world links such as David Tennant calling him Dad, and a potential new piece of music which is split into three parts of three hours duration (where did he get that idea?). However, he proved to be particularly mad once he started speaking into a non-existent earpiece to conjure up comedy – comedy, which I might add, was entertaining. Eventually, he acknowledged that he was in fact speaking to himself. Davison also entered into some light hearted joking about Peter Jackson and Sylvester McCoy, all the while advertising the Five-ish Doctors Reboot. It was all good fun, something to be experienced – and something so very special my pen cannot possibly dig it out to share. 

Doctor-Who-Symphonic-Spectacular-2014-smithLet’s crack on with music. Introducing the concert, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra – conducted by Ben Foster – played The Madman With A Box, followed by I Am The Doctor, complete with the spine tingling Stonehenge speech. The orchestra sealed the deal by evoking emotion early on, with Murray Gold’s Companion Suite – which led to the audience awwing and ahhing right from the beginning with Rose’s Theme. I’d seen this piece performed at the Proms on telly, but never before had I seen it done right before my eyes. Pacing through the uplifting, mellow tones of Martha’s Theme to the zappy, uptempo theme for Donna, what has become the most inspiring piece for me concluded with the all too beautiful Amy’s Theme. Music has the power to connect us, to unite us, and this piece connected me with the stories of companions I’ve seen played out on screen. I could feel the adventure of Martha, the fastest-temp-in-Chiswick attitude of Donna and the fairy tale of Amelia Pond. With classic Proms music such as Cyber Shard continuing the performances to a high calibre, female soloist the mezzo soprano Anna Pierard took to the stage to perform Abigail’s Song in a chilling yet beautiful rendition of the Christmas composition. Finally, in celebration of the golden milestone, the Classic Doctor Who Medley served as a tribute to the last fifty years of a cultural phenomenon. Then came tears with The Final Chapter of Amelia Pond and The Long Song. It was like they were trying to make us cry in a neat little row. Other memorable performances include: All the Strange, Strange Creatures and The Impossible Girl. 

Symphonic-Spectacular-2014If Peter Davison was the heart of the event, then Conductor, Ben Foster was the mind. In every piece orchestrated his focus is solely on the instruments that he oversees from his platform. The energy he forces into his conducting is something rather special; another unforgettable experience. There was one part of the concert in which the Daleks took control of the stadium; forcing Foster to play “special Dalek music.” He was even accused of “over-acting” by the Supreme Dalek. Additionally, he used his sonic device to conduct for a little while, frequently punching his fist into the air as if to say Barrowman! And hence I gained a more mature appreciation for the passion and love he puts into his conducting (he also took a selfie with a Dalek!)

Doctor-Who-Symphonic-Spectacular-2014-50As with all the musical celebrations, nothing would be complete without the monsters. The voice of the Judoon boomed its way across the stadium, spoken by the magnificent Nicholas Briggs (in a prerecording). In no particular order: Cybermen; Weeping Angels; Silurians; the Vigil; the Mummy; the Whispermen; Wooden Cyberman; Ood and Daleks. I feel like I’ve forgotten one, but in it’s essence the sheer number and variety of monsters present made the atmosphere that bit more spectacular! These monsters appeared notably in First There Were Daleks and The Name of the Doctor. The sequence named Fifty included music from the fiftieth anniversary special, headlined with my favourite composition of the fiftieth year: Song for Fifty, delivered breathtakingly by Anna Pierard and Oliver Sewell. As a reminder of what we’ve lost, The Time of the Doctor sequence was played followed by Vale Decem. All in all, it was a very emotional evening – added to by two specially filmed sequences with Tom Baker, speaking of his anxiety leading up to his cameo and his time as the Doctor, and a filmed scene on the Wellington wharf featuring a Dalek! 

The Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular was important to me not only for the music or the experience, but for the statement it made. People say that pictures can tell a thousand stories, but the music of the show transcends these far more – which is why I cannot do justice in my review of such a spectacular event. The stadium was full, but the audience was of mixed cultures and backgrounds. Everywhere, there were fans of all cultures: European, Chinese, Japanese and Māori to name a few. There, the stereotypical demographic for opera and musicianship was not strictly a certain age or certain ethnicity. There, we were all connected by one thing: our passion for Doctor Who. 

Here are my highlights of the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular:

Step back in time...

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35 comments
MichelleArroyo
MichelleArroyo

What an amazing experience and thank you for sharing the video. It was amazing. I especially enjoyed the end with the faces of all the doctors (minus Capaldi) with the end credits. Beautifully done!

Mr 11
Mr 11

Looks like it was an incredible event! I went to the Proms and they played a very similar track listing thought it didn't include Abigail's Song and The Time of the Doctor.

Pockydon
Pockydon

Looked like great fun, I'd love to go to one of these orchestras at some point. Great review KCi!

Chronos the Fannibal
Chronos the Fannibal

I feel like hugging those aliens (even though I'm not even a hugging type of person)

GaryKingston
GaryKingston

Wow another great article. Your doing so many these days KCI, I would say keep them up but I know you will

Chris502
Chris502

That silent has some interesting dance moves at the start.

AdamTheAstronaut
AdamTheAstronaut

They should do a proper UK Tour like come to Edinburgh, Glasgow and other places that are not London. 

the_ponds_forever
the_ponds_forever

 I really wish they had something for American viewers (besides Comic con as that for me is about three days away by car...)


Seekles
Seekles

Those poor souls must be roasting wearing their costumes in the New Zealand sun! Kudos to them.


Master Michael Moon
Master Michael Moon

Can someone please just destroy those horrible, bulky looking paradigm Daleks, I hate them.

Deus_Ex_Machina
Deus_Ex_Machina

I had so wanted to go to this when it was in Melbourne, but by the time so looked into it it was sold out. Next time...

Nightmarish
Nightmarish

Great review! One day I'm going to go to England, Australia, or New Zealand just to see one of these.

The Finn
The Finn

A very interesting review!

Clara Laurinda
Clara Laurinda

What a wonderful review--it is everything a review should be, filled with vivid details of the show and of the experience of you watching it. Trying to picture and hear David Tennant calling his father-in-law Peter "Dad"  brought a smile and reminder of how much Doctor Who has impacted the lives of those who have played the Doctor just as much as it has shaped the lives of us who love the show itself. I was never a fan of Song for the Fiftieth, but watching and listening to it in the context of your experience and the departure of Matt Smith at Christmas, it brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for bringing this experience to life so beautifully in words and images.

theleventhour
theleventhour

I too attended the second show in Melbourne and words cannot explain how amazing it was. The scores nearly brought me to tears and it was spine tingling. I was attacked by a Cyberman and Whispermen. Truly amazing experience. I was lucky enough to stick around a bit after the show and snap a pic with a Cyberman, Dalek, Ood, Silence and an Ice Warrior. It was fantastic!

sontaran17
sontaran17

Speaking from "across the ditch" as you so lovely-ly put it K-Ci! I was lucky enough to grab front row seats to the Melbourne event a few weeks ago, and its true- one really can't put it into words how epic it was! You've done it justice today mate!

Gustaff
Gustaff

Browsing my twitter page and I find this review posted 3 minutes ago, I just had to read it. Sounds like it was enormous fun k-ci. U made me so jealous I couldn't come. Great article and very exciting review.

smallaustralian
smallaustralian

hey... at the one I went to in Melbourne, we didn't see any Dalek scene with Tom Baker... what exactly happened in this scene


MichelleArroyo
MichelleArroyo

@the_ponds_forever  I LIKE THIS COMMENT AND CONCUR COMPLETELY! Sorry for the caps. I was just thinking this, though. Yes! Please don't leave out we poor Americans!


cyberbrayde
cyberbrayde

@Seekles  Actually, our (New Zealander) sun isn't that, persay hot. Our climate's are at times, pretty cold. So must of us weren't burning under that sun.

Clara Laurinda
Clara Laurinda

@theleventhour  Ooooo I am so jealous! We in Canada have never had such a visit by  this wonderful event, and to be attacked by both a cyberman and the Whispermen and still live to tell the tale. Wow!


KCi Williams is Moffat
KCi Williams is Moffat

It was amazing Gustaff. Haha, you'll catch the next one. Thanks for the feedback. I would've wad you're on Dark Eyes 2 but I haven't even heard Dark Eyes 1 yet

The Finn
The Finn

I think there were TWO scenes, one in which Baker appeared and the other with a Dalek

theleventhour
theleventhour

@Clara Laurinda I know. I was quite horrified by them but such an amazing experience to see them up close. Certainly wont forget it (especially the silence)!

Gustaff
Gustaff

Credit where its due. Wish south Africa had these concerts. Out of curiosity: Where are u in the 8th doctor series?

Clara Laurinda
Clara Laurinda

@theleventhour @Clara Laurinda  I am not much into horror or being horrified but having The Silence and Cybermen and Whispermen confront me would be deliciously frightening without the distance of watching them on TV. Cool!