URBANA – Academy Award-winning composer Steven Price spoke with Illinois Public Media’s Kimberly Schofield about Our Planet Live in Concert coming to the State Farm Center on Monday, March 27, at 7:30. The concert is a two-hour show with live orchestral music, cinematography, and narration from David Attenborough, with William Shatner as the host.
The concert is a journey through different environments with unique sounds and instruments that reflect their characteristics. Price explains how working with Attenborough was central to the show, and he had to create music that complemented his words. The show is meant to take audiences through a range of emotions, and leave them with a sense of hope and optimism. Price hopes to show people that everything is connected and that by working together, “nature comes back, and wants to come back.”
Kimberly Schofield: You’re listening to WILL and Morning Edition. I’m Kimberly Schofield speaking with Academy Award-winning composer, Steven Price, about the upcoming Our Planet Live in Concert, Monday, March 27, at 730 at the State Farm Center. Welcome, Steven.
Steven Price: Hello, how you doing?
KS: I’m good. How are you?
SP: Very well, thank you.
KS: What is Our Planet Live? Tell us a little bit about the concert.
SP: Well, Our Planet was a show that came out on Netflix in 2019. And it was really the first time that a big Natural History show had shown the whole planet and the state of the planet today and really gone into the issues around it. We totally took it all apart and put it back together again as a two hour concert. There’s beautiful cinematography and narration from for David Attenborough and music is being played live on stage by the orchestra.
KS: In the Our Planet series, each episode requires around 50 minutes of music. How were you able to narrow all of that down into a two hour concert?
SP: I tried to make it so that it really does feel like this this journey where you…you spend a bit of time at the start going from environment to environment and seeing how they’re linked together. Then we do go on to show a little bit of some of the sadness and what’s going on in the world, but hopefully leaves you with a great feeling of optimism at the end, you know, there’s a lot of hope for the place.
KS: Can you tell us what it was like to work with Sir David Attenborough and William Shatner?
SP: Sir David’s narration was always central to Our Planet. So back in the original show that we made in 2018, 2019, he was always crucial to it. And I’ve been lucky enough to work with him on a few occasions. So I’ve really got used to thinking of him as kind of my lead instrument, you know, everything builds around his words. And he kind of presents this ultimate challenge to a composer because his words are so perfectly placed and so perfectly chosen. So he’s talking as he would have done on the TV version. But we’ve also got William Shatner to host it…to do the linking passages that go between each of our films and take you from, say, the Arctic, to the jungles and tell us what those connections are. And really just hold the hand of the audience as we go on the journey around the planet.
KS: How did you decide which instruments to use in the different environments?
SP: Some instruments just welcome different bits of the world. You know, if I’m in the Arctic, suddenly, things need to be quite broad, and they need to be quite icy in their sounds, you know, so you might use very high violins and have big, big sort of epic sort of sounds. Whereas if I’m in the jungle, you’re dealing with a lot of very small kind of creatures and lots of movement and lots of very intimate things. Lots of woodwinds, obviously, in the forest.
KS: What is it that people can look forward to seeing a concert live instead of just watching Our Planet at home?
SP: The thing that’s really struck me is what a wonderful experience it is to share with with other people, you know, that the whole point of the show is really that we’re all in it together. We all share this place, it’s our home, and to watch this show with an audience and to kind of really feel the links between all the different places. It’s, it’s really easy, I think, for us to sit in our own places and think, ‘Oh, the artic’s nothing to do with me,’ you know, ‘and the problems over there and nothing to do with me.’ But actually, everything is connected. And it’s been really lovely to share that through our films with the audience and also to send them away with a bit of hope. It’s also really easy, I think, to feel overwhelmed by all the bad news that you hear on the media about the environment. And we show a lot of good news stories, and we show things where the course has been changed by people. Nature comes back, and wants to come back.
KS: Is there anything that people can hope to take away from seeing Our Planet Live?
SP: There’s a moment at the start of the show. When I say you know, during the evening, I hope that you might laugh. And that you also might cry and that’s the thing. I think there are bits of both. The most fun times we’ve had on stage with the show are the moment when people have been laughing. It’s hopefully a show that takes you to the extremes of all these emotions. You know, you should have fun, maybe a couple of tears along the way, but hopefully feel like you’ve shared in this experience with all your your fellow audience members.
KS: That’s Academy Award winning composer Steven Price about the upcoming Our Planet Live in Concert Monday, March 27 at 7:30 at the State Farm Center.