水曜日, 5月 25, 2005

John Williams Heaven

The Boston Pops is featuring a tribute to John Williams this week under its "Hurray for Hollywood" series. Traditionally, John Williams himself conducts the music. This year, alas, he is too busy writing the score to War of the Worlds. (*shakes fist at Spielberg, Cruise*)

Tonight was "opening night." I arrived twenty minutes late to a packed symphony hall. The usher groaned when he saw my ticket--my seat was at the left-most corner on the second balcony. It was a struggle to get past everyone without causing a commotion, but oh was it worth it. I was right over the orchestra--if I leaned forward too much, my glasses would knock out the harpist. Fortunately, the Williams tribute was the second half--I considered the remaining 'Chaplin' piece a bonus track.

I'm not really an acoustics gal (not a musician. Just a tone deaf fan) so being at the sidelines didn't bother me. What I love watching is the interplay between musicians, trying to guess exactly which of the French horns is going next, the overwhelming beauty when the entire string section melts like pure chocolate.

The conductor would turn around, give a short intro, then play us a clip from an interview with John Williams on that piece:

In the beginning, there was Star Wars. I probably have the Empire Strikes Back soundtrack memorized, but have never seen the music played live. It is the piece I want played at my wedding. (And the Force theme at my funeral.) I will always be in love with that music.

A Harry Potter sequence.

Jaws. The interview clip shows two fingers playing that ominous theme, followed by maniacal laughter. And the camera pulls back to show us Williams hunched over the piano, a wild look in his eye. Oh, Lord. But I do have an appreciation now for what Williams called that feeling "in the gut." It really is that sound of the bow on the string that completes the sound of that theme.

Schindler's List. The violin solo had me tearing up. That movie was just devastating.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind. And then the closing scene for E.T. Williams can do grandeur, pathos, tragedy...but what he also excels at is wonder. And the final piece for E.T. is just one long bike ride down the mottled path, wind and laughter raking through your hair.

We gave the orchestra a standing ovation, of course. And the conductor returned for the encore and said, "We have connections to the top"--so here is the score for Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, and we'll perform "Battle of the Heroes. The movie opened last weekend, and we are probably the first orchestra in the country to perform this live.'

We younglings on the balcony (and a lot of us were kids still in high school) gasped and went wild.

I'll leave a review of the piece to Jaquandor. My heart pounded with the beat. My only regret is that the record stores are already closed, so I can't go home and buy the soundtrack NOW.

Another round of applause, and half standing ovation. So the conductor returns, flushed, and launches in the Cantina Theme. You could feel the energy in the audience shoot to new heights. I was just geeked out to see the percussionist doing all those cool sounds in the back.

A final standing ovation from the first row persuades the conductor to give us the theme from Indiana Jones. We marched out the symphony hall into the cold rain, but our grins were warm.