Concert Review: Star Wars: Return of the Jedi in Concert, Hamer Hall

A concert perfect for fans of 'Star Wars' and/or the music of John Williams.
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. A golden android known as C3PO walks along a road track aside a short robot known as R2D2.

The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s concert series of the original Star Wars movies concludes with the performance of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi in Concert. The audience is greeted by the orchestra on stage divided into blue and red sections, representing the Rebel Alliance and the Empire in the movie. The factions’ respective banners hang on the sides of the hall and Darth Vader makes an appearance. These little touches nicely set the mood for the night. 

The conductor, Nicholas Buc, gives the audience a helpful introduction before the show begins. Samples of some of the themes used for characters in the film are played with an explanation from Buc about their meaning. This gives audience members with less experience of how movie soundtracks work something to listen out for during the film. 

The orchestra then launches into the Star Wars opening theme and it begins an immaculate performance of the soundtrack of the film. The iconic themes are played beautifully and could form the basis of a concert in and of themselves. Buc explains in the introduction about the love themes that John Williams composed for the various characters and this makes the identification of these moments possible for the audience.

The soundtrack is a classic one and highlights Williams’ capabilities as a composer. It is possible to close one’s eyes and be guided by the music as to who is on screen and what is happening. The concert could even be enjoyed without paying attention to the film as the music is so engaging. 

Watching a film with a live orchestra brings home the importance of the music to a film. The delicate music for the emotional scenes adds to the moving images on the screen, while the orchestra rouses the crowd with a thunderous accompaniment to the battle scenes. It is even noticeable when the orchestra doesn’t play, which is educational as it highlights just how much music there is over the course of the movie, as well as the decisions made as to when music is needed or not in a scene. Buc notes that this is the film with the most music of the original trilogy of Star Wars films. 

Viewing a movie with a live orchestra is special and enhances the experience of the film. It is important to choose a movie that is either a personal favourite or one that you are confident that you will enjoy. It should also be noted that this is the conclusion to a trilogy and is a much better experience if the audience is familiar with the earlier ones in the series. While it is possible to watch it as a stand-alone movie the experience won’t be as satisfying. 

Read: Exhibition review: Art of The Brick, Melbourne Showgrounds

For Star Wars fans and/or fans of John Williams’ music this is highly recommended. The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra does an excellent job of enhancing the experience of seeing the film with a beautiful performance of a classic movie soundtrack. 

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi in Concert
Hamer Hall
Conductor: Nicholas Buc
Tickets: $86-$165

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi in Concert will be performed until 24 April 2024, with bonus shows programmed for 6-7 June (7.30pm) and 8 June (1.00pm) at Hamer Hall.

Kim Hitchcock is a freelance writer based in Melbourne who has an interest in all art forms and enjoys exploring them locally and abroad. He has completed a Master of Art Curatorship at the University of Melbourne and can be reached at