Featured image for post: RELIVE BLADE RUNNER LIVE


One of the coolest things I have had the pleasure of doing is watching classic movies with the soundtrack played live by the Chicago Philharmonic. — Kathy D. Hey, Third Coast Review 





On Saturday, February 17, 2024 Chicago Philharmonic and Auditorium Theatre brought the incredibly anticipated U.S. Premiere of Blade Runner Live to Chicago. 

Chicago Phil’s all-electric orchestra dazzled audiences. This triumphant debut was met with resounding applause, marking a monumental start to the inaugural 2024 Auditorium Philms Concert Series


Blade Runner Aud.


What is Blade Runner?


The 1982 film “Blade Runner”, directed by Ridley Scott, is renowned for its groundbreaking visual effects, dystopian themes, and seminal soundtrack composed by Vangelis. Vangelis, born Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou, is a Greek composer and musician known for his pioneering work in electronic, synthesizer-lead music. Vangelis composed the film score for “Chariots of Fire”, so this unmistakable tune might sound familiar:



Who is Vangelis?


Blade Runner Vangelis


Greek progressive-rock stalwart Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou, more commonly known as Vangelis, is a pillar and an icon in the recent history of electronic and film music. When Ridley Scott showed him a rough cut of Blade Runner in 1981, Vangelis had already established himself with his New Age band Aphrodite’s Child. His specialty was the synthesizer, which was then considered more of a novel sound effect than a legitimate instrument. For the creation of Blade Runner’s score, Vangelis recorded live, scene by scene, with a dozen or so synthesizers as the movie played on VHS. The music echoed the film’s themes, creating an otherworldly atmosphere that felt futuristic, cold, and still deeply human. To quote Philip K. Dick, whose 1968 novel became the basis for Blade Runner: “The future is old.”


The key to all of these futuristic sounds was the Yamaha CS-80, a revolutionary synthesizer that defined the music of the 1980s, including Vangelis’ “Chariots of Fire” and Toto’s “Dune”.

All the acoustic instruments – I think they are perfect. But if you want to go beyond that, then you use a synthesizer. — Vangelis 


Vangelis Synth


Blade Runner at a Glance:


Blade Runner Poster


Blade Runner is set in a dystopian future Los Angeles, where massive corporations and advanced technology dominate society. The story follows Rick Deckard, a retired police officer known as a “blade runner,” whose job is to track down and “retire” (terminate) rogue replicants (bioengineered humanoids created for off-world labor). Deckard is tasked with hunting down a group of replicants who have escaped to Earth, led by Roy Batty. Along the way, Deckard encounters Rachael, a replicant who believes herself to be human due to implanted memories. As Deckard pursues the replicants, he begins to question his own morality and the nature of humanity, especially as he develops feelings for Rachael. The replicants are portrayed as complex and sympathetic characters, grappling with existential questions and the desire for freedom and autonomy. The film’s exploration of identity, memory, and what it means to be human is central to its narrative, making it a thought-provoking and enduring work of science fiction.


A Stunning Sci-fi Soundtrack:


Vangelis’ soundtrack for Blade Runner is considered a masterpiece and has played a significant role in shaping the film’s atmosphere and enhancing its narrative. The soundtrack blends futuristic synthesizer sounds with classical orchestration, creating a haunting and evocative soundscape that perfectly complements the film’s dystopian setting.


Fan-favorite songs from the Blade Runner soundtrack include:


“Main Titles”


This track serves as the opening theme of the film and sets the tone for the entire movie. The haunting, lonely synthesizer melody accompanied by sweeping strings creates a sense of mystery and foreboding, introducing viewers to the bleak and immersive world of Blade Runner.


“Blade Runner Blues”


This song features what sounds like Middle Eastern-inspired vocalizations. This track adds to the eclectic and atmospheric nature of the film’s musical score. The foreign-like vocals contribute to the exotic and otherworldly ambiance of the soundtrack, reflecting the multicultural and dystopian setting of the film.


“Tales of the Future”


This song features what sounds like Middle Eastern-inspired vocalizations. This track adds to the eclectic and atmospheric nature of the film’s musical score. The foreign-like vocals contribute to the exotic and otherworldly ambiance of the soundtrack, reflecting the multicultural and dystopian setting of the film.


SPOTLIGHT: Our electric violist, Cheryl Wilson, also delivered the haunting and fundamental vocals for “Tales of the Future” during Blade Runner Live. Wilson’s performance was a captivating necessity, as her evocative interpretation ultimately elevated the live rendition of the Blade Runner soundtrack and enraptured the audience.


“Love Theme”


Also known as “Rachel’s Song,” this track features a poignant and ethereal melody that underscores the complex relationship between the blade runner, Rick Deckard, and the replicant, Rachael. The love theme adds emotional depth to their interactions, highlighting the themes of humanity explored throughout the film.


SPOTLIGHT: Notably, “Love Theme” features an unforgettable saxophone solo. On February 17th, saxophone player Matt Wiffler stunned Blade Runner fans with an epic, sultry 80s-inspired jazz solo, which some even claimed to surpass that of the original soundtrack.



“Tears in Rain”


Perhaps the most iconic track from the Blade Runner soundtrack, “Tears in Rain” accompanies the film’s climactic scene in which the replicant Roy Batty delivers a monologue reflecting on the fleeting nature of life and memories. Vangelis’ haunting score enhances the poignancy of the moment, as Batty grapples with his own mortality and the significance of his experiences.


I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain. — Roy Batty


The Marvelous Musicians of the U.S. Premiere of Blade Runner Live:




Conductor – Michael Moricz 

Vocalist – Cheryl Wilson 

Flute / Tenor Sax – Matt Wiffler 

Percussion 1 – Michael Folker 

Percussion 2 – Michael Kozakis 


Musicians PT 1


Synthesizer 1 – Eli Chen 

Synthesizer 2 – Kuang-Hao Huang 

Synthesizer 3 – Bob Sutter 


Musicians PT 2


Electric Violin 1 – Chuck Bontrager 

Electric Violin 2 – Jeff Yang 

Electric Viola – Cheryl Wilson 

Electric Cello – Wei Denton 

Double Bass / Electric Bass – Christian Dillingham


Musicians PT 3



This groundbreaking event not only showcased the timeless appeal of Ridley Scott’s dystopian masterpiece but also highlighted the enduring legacy of Vangelis’ iconic soundtrack. The Blade Runner soundtrack’s innovative use of synthesizers and its ability to evoke a rich sense of atmosphere and emotion has solidified its place in cinematic history. 


Vangelis’ role in shaping the film’s aesthetic and cultural significance cannot be overstated. As his music has become an integral part of the Blade Runner experience, it continues to captivate audiences and inspire generations of filmmakers and musicians alike.


Blade Runner Aud. copyBlade Runner Fans


Already itching for your next Auditorium Philm? We got you. 


Blade Runner is just the beginning of a historic collaboration between the Auditorium Theatre and Chicago Philharmonic, known as Auditorium Philms Concert Series. 




Batman 1989 (35th Anniversary Concert) — April 13, 2024


Black Panther in Concert — Jun 22, 2024



Bram Stroker’s Dracula (U.S. Premiere!) — Oct. 26, 2024



Love Actually in Concert — Dec. 7, 2024

LA in Concert Square