In Clearwater, a live orchestra will accompany Spider-Man movie

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Live in Concert” happens at Ruth Eckerd Hall on Aug. 29.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Live in Concert happens at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on Aug. 29, 2023.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Live in Concert happens at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on Aug. 29, 2023. [ Courtesy of Senbla Productions ]
Published Aug. 24|Updated Sept. 5

Editor’s note: The concert was scheduled for Aug. 29, but was postponed due to Tropical Storm Idalia. It has been rescheduled for Nov. 22.

Film screenings accompanied by live orchestras aren’t new, but there are some unique elements in the case of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Live in Concert, happening at Ruth Eckerd Hall on Aug. 29.

The 2018 animated film itself is groundbreaking. It follows Afro-Latinx teenager Miles Morales, who is bitten by a radioactive spider on the subway in Brooklyn. The bite gives him superpowers and introduces him to the parallel Spider-Verse, where he’s joined by fellow Spider-heroes to defeat a villain.

The soundtrack features songs by rappers Lil Wayne, Post Malone and Nicki Minaj, representative of what Miles would listen to. The score composed by Daniel Pemberton also has elements of hip-hop; it’s percussion-heavy and features the scratching of turntablist DJ Blakey.

Pemberton is an acclaimed United Kingdom-based composer who has scored many projects for film and television. He said the score was complicated to compose and he never thought it could be performed live. The Ruth Eckerd Hall concert will mark the first time one of Pemberton’s scores has been performed live.

Another unique aspect is that the concert will be performed by the all-female orchestra The Broadway Sinfonietta, made up mostly of people of color. It will be conducted by New York-based Emily Marshall.

A turntablist DJ will also be scratching live during the performance. Marshall thinks this element will open the door for an audience who may have never experienced an orchestra performance before.

Pemberton said it will also introduce the art of turntablism to a new audience. He hopes that for fans of the movie, the experience will shed light on the work that goes into creating music.

“One of the things that I love about doing film music is there isn’t a sense of snobbery,” he said. “As a film composer, you are really looking at music ... and saying, ‘How can I use these tools to make something interesting?’ and that’s partly because I’ve grown up in a time where I’ve been immersed in everything from classical music to techno to rock to hip-hop.”

He said that the archaic idea that one form of music is more important than another is “nonsense,” but that people are coming around to the idea that “great music can be made on anything.”

Marshall approaches conducting with a no-frills style but said she likes to make eye contact with the musicians.

“I think of conducting as communication,” she said. With three percussion players, the score’s rhythmic quality leads her movements.

Marshall has previously worked with The Broadway Sinfonietta, which was founded in 2020 by Egyptian-American orchestrator and music supervisor Macy Schmidt. Marshall has seen the positive effect the organization has had by giving more people performance opportunities, she said.

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Pemberton hopes the significance of an all-female, woman-led orchestra will inspire some of the audience to pursue music.

He won’t travel with the entire tour, but he was there for opening night in Brooklyn, New York.

“This is a real kind of unique experience,” he said. “There’s loads of great moments in this movie that really pay off. And it’s a sort of one-off experience that hopefully people remember for a long time.”

What to know if you go to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Live in Concert

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Live in Concert. 7 p.m. Tuesday (Aug. 29). $35-$65. Parking is on site and is free. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater. 727-791-7400.