Explore the Darth side of Wagner

John Williams speaks during the unveiling of a sculpture of Serge Koussevitzky, founder of Tanglewood, during a ceremony and reception in Lenox, Massachusetts last year.

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BRATTLEBORO — In a program for film buffs, music lovers and anyone with an interest in pop culture sources and references, Latchis Arts welcomes Hugh Keelan for a presentation called "Darth Wagner: Insights into the Music of Star Wars" at 1 p.m. on Sunday in the Latchis Main Theatre.

Armed with a piano instead of a light saber, Keelan will examine the influence of 19th century German composer Richard Wagner on John Williams' music for the Star Wars films, particularly in Williams' use of leitmotifs - or musical themes associated with specific characters, objects, locations, ideas or situations.

Keelan is not alone is showing that the iconic music of "Star Wars" has roots in Wagner. In January 2018, New Yorker music critic Alex Ross wrote an article titled A Field Guide to the Musical Leitmotifs of "Star Wars", in which he cited musical scholars who had identified more than 50 leitmotifs in the "Star Wars" soundtracks. Williams himself has cited Wagner as an influence, particularly in his composing for "Star Wars."

Keelan is music director of Tundi Productions, which presented a critically acclaimed production of "Tristan und Isolde" in August 2019. Tundi has ambitious plans to present Wagner in Vermont again in August 2020.

Admission to "Darth Wagner" is $15, which also includes admission to see "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" at the Latchis Theatre immediately following Keelan's half-hour presentation. Admission to the talk only is $7. Proceeds from Keelan's presentation benefit Tundi Productions. For information, visit latchisarts.org.


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