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Articles & Interviews

These Symphony-commissioned feature articles offer insights into the music you'll hear in the concert hall. We hope you'll find them provocative and entertaining.

Jul 5, 2016

'Star Trek': Fifty years of award-winning music, blockbuster movies, groundbreaking TV


The San Francisco Symphony will perform “Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage — A 50th Anniversary Celebration” on July 14 and 15 with scenes from the TV show and films projected on a screen above the orchestra at Davies Symphony Hall.

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As it celebrates its golden anniversary, "Star Trek" has gone from a cult television program when it first aired in 1966 to one of the foundations of popular culture. Just as phrases such as “Live long and prosper,” “Beam me up, Scotty” and “Make it so” have become part of the collective lexicon, Star Trek’s music can be found in the great American TV and film score songbook.

The San Francisco Symphony helps celebrate this space adventure’s musical legacy on July 14 and 15 with “Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage — A 50th Anniversary Celebration.” From Alexander Courage’s soaring “Main Theme” from “Star Trek: The Original Series” to Jerry Goldsmith’s jaunty “Main Title” from “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” (which was repurposed into the theme for “Star Trek: The Next Generation”) to Dennis McCarthy’s regal yet mysterious “Main Title” from “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” conductor Justin Freer and the San Francisco Symphony will revisit the memorable musical scores from the Star Trek episodic series and feature films.

As the themes and scores are being performed, clips from the accompanying TV and film scenes will be projected onto an oversized screen that rivals any starship’s viewscreen. The gold, blue and — be careful out there! — red uniform tops of “The Original Series” pop brilliantly when projected above the stage, turning Davies Symphony Hall into one of the most elegant cinemas in San Francisco.

And the majestic metallic grace of the Enterprise (both the TV and movie versions), Voyager and Deep Space Nine space stations shimmer when viewed in a darkened setting.

Familiar faces, including Captains James T. Kirk, Jean-Luc Picard, Benjamin Cisco and Kathryn Janeway and the ever-popular Mr. Spock, will also be seen. So, too, will enemies and frenemies such as the Klingons and Borg.

Composer Jay Chattaway, who composed the music for the four most recent Trek series, notes that Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry made it a point to always use symphony orchestras. (Main characters such as Spock, Riker and Uhura even played Vulcan lute and trombone and sang, respectively, showing that live music is a regular part of the 23rd and 24th centuries.)

So there’s no better way to revel in his long-standing universe’s 50th year than by enjoying “The Ultimate Voyage.”

Though these concerts are being presented in a concert hall, Federation dress uniforms aren’t required. “Star Trek” cosplay, however, is highly encouraged.

If you go

Justin Freer leads the San Francisco Symphony in "Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage" July 14 and 15 at 7:30pm in Davies Symphony Hall. (415) 864-6000,