Elmer Bernstein, who was invited by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to conduct a program of his own compositions at London’s Royal Albert Hall on Wednesday, October 9, 2002, had quite a surprise awaiting him following his scheduled encore of “The Great Escape.”
Known to British audiences as the theme song for UK’s football league, “The Great Escape” theme culminated an evening of both Bernstein’s favorite film themes and two original pieces for orchestra, “Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra” (Christopher Parkening, solosit) and “Ondine at the Cinema” (Cynthia Millar, soloist).
As the Maestro was gesturing to members of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to stand and bow, “This Is Your Life” host Michael Aspel, carrying his definitive red book and followed by a cameraman, appeared in the orchestra area of the audience and began slowly walking toward the stage. The crowd went wild.
“I was thinking, ‘Perhaps you should have prepared a second encore,’ when, to my delight, Mr. Aspel announced his onstage raison d’être, and I was whisked off to the television studios for the program,” stated an elated Bernstein. “What a thrilling surprise.”
The program featured celebrated guests Alan and Marilyn Bergman, the world famous song writing team, “My Left Foot” producer Noel Pearson, director John Landis (“Animal House,” “An American Werewolf in London,” “The Blues Brothers,” “Trading Places,” among others, featured Bernstein scores) and actor James Fox who co-starred in “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” among many others.
“This Is Your Life” airs on BBC1 and is scheduled for a January, 2003 release. Stayed tuned!