Joel McNeely

Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire

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The score for the video game Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire represents the first authorized music from George Lucas' interstellar franchise written by a composer other than John Williams. Joel McNeely, who succeeded Williams for the television series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, was the logical choice here as well. Employing signature themes and motifs from Williams' original Star Wars score -- arguably the most beloved and influential movie music of the late 20th century -- McNeely vividly captures the power and majesty one expects from the series, thanks in large part to the epic performance of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. To McNeely's credit, he also deviates sharply from Williams' template, contributing dissonant, intensely rhythmic passages (most notably "Xizor's Theme") without precedent in the Star Wars canon. Purists may blanch, but more adventurous listeners will appreciate the divergences from formula.

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