'Mr. Sulu' to be guest narrator at Spfld. Symphony Pops

Date: 3/23/2009

SPRINGFIELD -- Springfield Symphony Maestro Kevin Rhodes makes no bones about it; he's a science fiction fan and a devout "Trekkie."

He's invited "Star Trek's" Mr. Sulu, George Takei, to narrate a portion of the 8 p.m., April 4 program "Flights of Fantasy" in Symphony Hall. For tickets call 733-2291.

Fans of "Star Trek," "Star Wars" and J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" know the music of those sci-fi and fantasy operas but nearly everyone is familiar with the lushly orchestrated and thematically-inspired themes of those out-of-this-world melodies, said Rhodes.

The "Flights of Fantasy" concert features the music of one of the most famous Hollywood composers, Academy Award winner John Williams, who wrote the "Star Wars" and "Harry Potter" themes.

"Trekkies, like me, will enjoy the 'Star Trek' television show theme and two compositions from 'Star Trek' movies," Rhodes said.

The movie themes are from "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn," composed by James Horner, and from "Star Trek: The Motion Picture," "The New Enterprise Suite," composed by Jerry Goldsmith, who also wrote music for "Planet of the Apes," "Alien Nation" and "Gremlins."

The perennially popular George Takei (pronounced tah-kay), with his signature resonant voice, will narrate excerpts from the "Lord of the Rings Symphony" composed by Johan de Meij.

Takei is best known for the Mr. Sulu role in both the TV and film versions of "Star Trek," but he is also known to a younger generation of television fans for his role as Hiro's father in the NBC hit series "Heroes." He has also appeared in more than 30 feature films and has guest-starred on many TV shows.

He received a star on Hollywood Boulevard's Walk of Fame in 1986 and he placed his signature and handprint in the forecourt of the famous Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood in 1991.

New Frontier

Takei's career took on new frontiers when he began guest narrating with several symphony orchestras. In January 2008 Takei narrated "Sci-Fi Spectacular" with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and then in February 2008 Takei hosted "To Boldly Go" with the Minnesota Orchestra.

Takei has also lent his voice to orchestras in Denver, Long Island, the Orange County Wind Orchestra and the Imperial Symphony in Lakeland, Fla.

The word trickled down to Maestro Rhodes that Takei began appearing with symphony orchestras and, being a "Star Trek" fan, arranged to bring him to Springfield.

The audience is invited to meet guest artist George Takei and Springfield Symphony Pops musicians in the Mahogany Room for a reception and autograph session following the concert.

The concert is sponsored by TDBanknorth. The media sponsor is Comcast. MassMutual Financial Group is the official season sponsor.

All concert tickets may be purchased from the Springfield Symphony Box Office, 1350 Main St., downtown Springfield, charged (VISA, MasterCard, American Express or Discover) by calling 733-2291 or online at SpringfieldSymphony.org. Tickets range from $10 to $57 with secure free parking. Tickets for youth ages four to 17 are half price. A discount of 25 percent is available for groups of 10 or more. Visit the SSO Web site at www.SpringfieldSymphony.org.

Springfield Symphony Orchestra performances are made possible through the generosity of donors, concertgoers, Business Friends of the Arts, Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts.