A Review of Candlelight Concerts: The Best of Hans Zimmer

I have never been a fan of concerts. Usually, I find them to be too loud and too crowded. If we’re being totally honest, I just don’t care for live music as a whole. It never seems to sound as good, and I never got the appeal of paying money to see what I can just listen to at home without other people around (I realize the same argument could probably be made for movie theaters, but I love going to the movies).

So, yeah, not big into concerts. However, as soon as I got an ad on TikTok for Candlelight Concerts, I knew I wanted to take a risk and see one of their performances. This was the ad:

Athena ScalziCandlelight Concerts is an experience that involves a lovely venue, a group of talented musicians, and a huge amount of LED candles. They have so many different options for their performances. You can choose a variety of artists like Mozart, Queen, Taylor Swift, even ABBA! Depending which you choose, your concert will either be a string quartet, a solo piano, a brass band, or guitar. They do indoor and outdoor shows depending on the time of year and your location.

After looking through my options, I knew I had to go with The Best of Hans Zimmer. Not only do I love so many of the movies he’s done the score for, but I adore his style of music and think his scores make the movies they accompany ascend to a new level. He is truly one of my favorite musicians.

The performance was in Cincinnati at the Woodward Theater, and performed by a string quartet called StringSource String Quartet (a group local to Cincinnati!).

I’d never been to the Woodward Theater before, but it was a small, historic theater in the Over-the-Rhine district. It had a bar that you could get a drink at before the show started if you arrived early. The venue was set up with rows of white folding picnic chairs with an aisle down the middle. I had bought A-section seats, which were the first two rows of seats, and it’s first come first serve so you just pick any open seat you want within your section.

The stage was completely covered in LED candles, which trailed down the steps of the stage and served as the only light for the theater once the performance began. It was so atmospheric!

I had already known the line-up of the music before attending, but the performers took turns announcing which piece they’d be playing next, as well as throwing in some fun facts and personal touches.

The line-up was as follows:

Time from Inception

This Land from The Lion King 

Zooster’s Breakout from Madagascar

Supermarine from Dunkirk

Honor from The Pacific

A Dark Knight from The Dark Knight

Wonder Woman Suite

Gladiator Suite

Cornfield Chase from Interstellar

Dune Suite

Discombobulate from Sherlock Holmes

Pirates of the Caribbean Suite

And they even did an encore piece, which was Flight from Man of Steel.

Holy cow, y’all. This performance was amazing.

Out of all these movies, I’ve seen about half. I thought that that would negatively impact the performance for me, but I ended up loving every single piece. In fact, some of my favorites from the set were from movies I have never seen. Every time a new piece was performed, I’d think “okay, that’s gotta be my favorite,” but then the next piece would start and somehow be even more spectacular.

Some were vibrant, up-beat, and brought a smile to my face, like the Madagascar piece. Others were haunting and gave me chills, like the piece from Dunkirk. So, no, I can’t really tell you what my “favorite” was, because they were all so incredible in so many different ways. It was really awesome to hear some of the familiar pieces I know and love on just strings. There’s nothing like a good cello.

It was mesmerizing, beautiful, emotional, and so completely worth the money and the drive to see it. My ticket for the A-section was fifty dollars, but the B, C, and D sections are cheaper and you’ll surely have a good time no matter where you sit.

I was thrilled to enjoy live music in such a beautiful space with such talented performers, and I can’t recommend it enough. It was truly a show to remember. I’ll definitely be seeing more Candlelight Concerts in the near future (in fact I already booked a ticket for another one while I was writing this post).

Bonus: Candlelight Concerts even has some performances available on YouTube to check out!

Here’s This Land from The Lion King:

What’s your favorite Hans Zimmer piece? Or favorite movie he does the score for? Do you like cello? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!


20 Comments on “A Review of Candlelight Concerts: The Best of Hans Zimmer”

  1. I first heard Zimmer’s music in the animated Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, then shortly afterwards via the feature-film Broken Arrow.

    I remember by the time Gladiator came out that I knew his name, and was excited to hear the collaboration between him and Lisa Gerrard (who I knew from the duo of Dead Can Dance).

    I love the Pirates of the Caribbean music (credit too to Klaus Badelt!), possibly my favorite of his work.

  2. I listen to the soundtracks for “Blackhawk Down” and “Rush” on a regular basis.

  3. Sounds like an amazing experience. Thank you for a gift idea for my impossible to buy for family!!

  4. Thanks for the review, I am planning on going to see one featuring the works of Joe Hisaishi in August on the strength of your experience. I also do not overly love concerts, but this feels like something I would love.

  5. Athena, I’m with you on live vs. recorded. I can think of only two live concerts I’ve ever attended that were better than recordings: Ravi Shankar (just watching his fingers fly was amazing!) and Harry Partch (you had to see his unique self-made instruments to appreciate them). Otherwise, I’ll take a recording every time.

    One thing that strikes me about the Candlelight concerts, though: those are many hundreds of candles, and unless they are all wired together like Christmas tree lights – which I doubt – each has a rechargeable battery. I wonder how they handle recharging all those batteries?

  6. Thank you for the informative review! I’ll be letting several people know about this. I like almost all of Zimmerman’s pieces. I’d be hard pressed to choose a favorite but I really like the Wonder Woman theme.

    I can understand your preference for studio recordings. I also felt that way when I was younger but as I went to more concerts I developed an appreciation for live performances. Whether classical or classic rock. Two concerts stand out in my mind; Seeing John Williams conduct his greatest hits at the Hollywood Bowl and seeing Queen’s last show in the United States with Freddie Mercury. Queen is still the best rock performance I’ve seen to date and I’ve seen quite a few. Ironically, based on the videos I’ve seen, it’s not even close to the best they ever did… I kept waiting to see them again but sadly it was not to be.

  7. Re: cello music.

    Love it. If you want classical, J.S. Bach’s Cello suites are excellent. Later classical, Richard Strauss’s Don Quixote is pretty good, too.

    Natalie Haas is a excellent cellist. Classically trained, often playing folk or popular music. Yo-Yo Ma, Mstislav Rostropovich, Jacqueline du Pré are all good names to look for in the classical tradition.

  8. I also don’t like crowds. But I LOVE live music!

    Focusing on the music, and that alone, is the best way to mostly ignore the crowd, And I’m never that focused on music alone when I’m at home. Look, there’s my phone! Look, there’s my computer! Or let’s think about work for a bit!

    I’n never as into the music as when I’m in a live crowd. And if the concert’s really good, and I’m really ito the vibe already, I actually get to feed off the positive energy of the crowd around me.

    Hundreds or thousands of people cheering and singing along, same as you, actually do that for me when I’m “in the zone” enough to ignore they’re all too fuckin’ close. A rare experience for an introvert…

    I’d generally prefer more high-energy shows, but I’m happy that you enjoyed your experience and are gonna do it again!

  9. Several of those movies are favorites and I didn’t even realize he’d done the score for them (The Pacific, Dunkirk [yes, I’m into military movies]). Can we stream a recording of the performance? Off to Google this…

  10. I can listen to classic music either way – I don’t think being in a concert hall is crowded or too loud – the fun part of seeing a symphony orchestra or a chamber group live is partly to watch their technique. Rock concerts – yes, they can be crowded and very loud. That’s why I wear ear protection. And some groups aren’t all that great live. Others…well, some live versions of songs live have transcended the studio versions and sent shivers up my spine and made me wish THAT was the studio version.

  11. Oh, and cello? The most beautiful of the stringed instruments. Definitely check out Yo-Yo Ma. I also recommend seeking out all-cello arrangements of music, as the sound is incredible. (I may be biased, as I played cello for many years.)

  12. Going for a “deeper cut” in the Zimmer catalog, I adore his music for the Jack Nicholson-Helen Hunt rom-com AS GOOD AS IT GETS. A lot of it is on YouTube and you don’t really need to have seen the movie to get the gist. Another somewhat obscure gem of his is BEYOND RANGOON.

    And the cello is wonderful! (All the instruments are, really. But since we’re talking about the cello, I highly recommend Yo Yo Ma’s album of Ennio Morricone music.)

  13. Oh, now THIS sounds fascinating. I am not a fan of either movies or most popular music, but I loooooves me a good string quartet, and I would totally be down for a concert like this one. I had no idea this even existed, and now I need to see what I can find in my area!

    And yes yes yes to loving the cello – the warmth and depth to those tones is like butterscotch and honey. I definitely agree with others who recommend recordings by Yo-Yo Ma, although I think my favorite cellist of all time is the late Jacqueline du Pré.

    If you like introspective string pieces, sometime check out Ludovico Einaudi’s work, especially the recordings made by Angèle Dubeau and her group La Pietà. His pieces have a way of soaking into your heart and soul, easing the aches and travails of life as they go.

    Thank you for sharing this, Athena, and I look forward to your next Candlelight Concert review!

  14. I think “Nyah” from “Mission: Impossible 2” is my favourite of his. It’s my go to track for auditioning/demonstrating a sound system.

  15. I stopped going to the typical big rock shows decades ago for the same reasons you cite. But that opened up a whole different world of live music. I go to a lot of classical concerts. Live classical music is much more engaging than recordings.

    Small venues (with seats) are much better for rock shows. I live in rural Northern California where we sometimes get some great acts on their way between Portland and the Bay Area. I’ve seen Cowboy Junkies (3 times), Yo La Tengo (twice), Neko Case (twice) and Conor Oberst at a local venue that seats about 250.

    You should also check out house concerts. They are the true definition of intimate and can be really special experiences. There’s a company called Undertow (https://undertowshows.com/) that puts on house concerts across the country. My wife and I are going to see John Vanderslice in someone’s living room on Sunday.

    Another cellist to check out is Amit Peled. I’ve seen him a number of times in both traditional and house concerts. He’s fabulous.

  16. Glad you enjoyed the performance! My favorite Hans Zimmer score is Inception, not just for its famous theme but for the way his music is used throughout. I especially like the training montage sequence, which includes an expositive voice-over that reveals much about the principles of dream infiltration in the movie. Zimmer’s music here is urgently propulsive without overwhelming the voice-over, seeming to send a subliminal signal to the viewer: “This is important, pay attention.”

    Cellos are cool, but they can be loud! One time when I was spending a few days in a friend’s home I would be regularly awakened by my friend’s morning cello practice. Definitely not unpleasant, but it might have tested my tolerance if I’d stayed there a few more nights. :-)

    I do think that with live performances on unplugged instruments you get a richer sound coming from the instruments themselves than you would when hearing the same music on speakers or headphones. My favorite rendition of Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire (for violin, cello, flute doubling on piccolo, clarinet doubling on bass clarinet, and vocalist) was at a semi-professional performance that I happened to catch because the aforementioned friend’s cello teacher was one of the players. There was just a texture to the live sound that I’ve never heard on any of the Pierrot recordings I’ve encountered (some of which are very good). Maybe hearing Zimmer live had a similar effect on you?

  17. That really seemed amazing. I had a similar experience watching VGL – VideoGames Live here in Brazil.

    Yes, chellos are special!

  18. I love attending luve concerts at the Hollywood Bowl. They do lots of movie score nights, and sitting under the stars to hear live music, with a picnic is so much fun.

  19. My favourite from Hans Zimmer is his score for The Holiday. It’s beautiful music but my love of it also comes partly from the way it is used in the film – as one of the characters is a film composer, there’s a lot of conversations about the music and how characters have their own themes.

%d bloggers like this: