Orchestra Unleashes the Force With Star Wars-Themed Spring Pops Concert

By Riya Patil, Reporter

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  • Students and guests alike gather in the audience, awaiting the start of the concert. Throughout each group’s performance, the audience was able to watch a selection of movie scenes arranged by the directors to correspond to the music.

    Photo By Westwood Orchestra

  • Student Teacher Mr. Daniel Cavazos leads the Concert and Camerata orchestras in their opening piece, the theme from The Mandalorian. The group was the first to play, presenting the opening credits and concert “trailer”.

    Photo By Westwood Orchestra

  • A violinist plays along attentively with the joint Concert and Camerata orchestra at the Pops Concert. The group performed themes from the soundtrack of The Mandalorian, as well as The Rebellion is Reborn from The Last Jedi, the eight installment in the Star Wars series.

    Photo By Westwood Orchestra

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On Wednesday, May the 4th, from 7:00 to 8:00 PM, Westwood Orchestra performed their Spring Pops Concert in the cafetorium. Accompanied by eighth-graders from Canyon Vista and Grisham Middle School, the orchestras performed pieces from the soundtracks of all nine Star Wars movies. In keeping with the theme, the cafetorium was decorated as a movie theater, with popcorn provided by booster club parents. Students were also invited to dress up in Star Wars-inspired costumes rather than the usual formal concert dress, with many using string LED lights to decorate their bows as lightsabers. 

The concert commenced with a joint performance of The Mandalorian Theme and The Rebellion is Reborn by the Concert and Camerata orchestras. Next, the eighth Grade orchestra made an appearance with Ewok Celebration, a light-hearted piece accompanied by scenes from Return of the Jedi. 

“Mr. Whatley, the director of Canyon Vista, and I had talked about having some sort of collaboration between our programs on a performance this year,” orchestra director Mr. Joshua Thompson said. “We thought it would be great to invite the eighth graders to our Pops concert because it’s such a fun concert, [and] so they get to see that in addition to UIL and those sorts of things, that we do have a really fun concert at the end of the year. I think if anything, it just gets them to meet Mr. Anderson and I ahead of time, and they get to see a little bit of what [high school] orchestra is like, and what our concerts are like.” 

The movie scenes playing alongside each orchestra’s performance, capturing rapt attention from the audience, were specially arranged by the orchestra directors to highlight certain phrases in the music. Crescendos and more dramatic parts in the music were partnered with especially suspenseful movie scenes, often leading up to a final release or sudden drop in dynamics. Consequently, each orchestra was tasked with perfectly timing their performances to match with the videos.

“[Putting together the movie clips] takes a lot of work because a lot of the time, the music that we play is not the actual soundtrack,” Mr. Thompson said. “Sometimes, we have to come up with very inventive ways to make sure that what we show visually matches the length of what we’re performing music-wise.” 

After the 8th graders, the 4th block Philharmonic orchestra went on to perform Rey’s Theme and Princess Leia’s Theme, followed by the 2nd block Philharmonic orchestra with The Jedi Steps and Throne Room. The Symphony orchestra performed last, showcasing the classic tracks Imperial March and March of the Resistance. Their second piece, an arrangement of Moving On from Lost, simultaneously served as a tribute to honor the graduating class of seniors. Its heartfelt melodies were highlighted by a harp solo by Phyllis Stockton ’22 and a cello solo by Noah Kim ’23. Overall, the combination of movie clips and live music truly came together for a unique concert experience. 

“I think the pops concert was actually a really fun concert to end the year with,” Eera Gour-Gupta ’25 said. “It was a lot of fun getting to play the actual music that I’ve loved for so long, throughout all the movies. As a Star Wars fan, I really loved being able to see the movie as we played, and watching the other orchestras as well. I especially loved the edits for Rey’s Theme, which was a pretty sentimental one, and the Mandalorian, which was pretty fun too.” 

Orchestra’s next appearance will be the Symphony orchestra’s performance at graduation on May 24th, featuring traditional graduation pieces as well as a joint performance with choir and band of Duel of the Fates