A 75th Birthday Tribute to John Williams

johnwilliamsTonight I went to the wonderful Winspear Centre along with Dickson and Sharon to enjoy the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra performing some of the more famous works by John Williams. It was the first night of the ESO Robbins Pops, and it was a great show. Conductor Bruce Hangen from the Boston Conservatory was on hand for the evening, and he shared some short video clips before most pieces of him talking with John about the music. It’s really quite amazing how much John Williams has accomplished in his career. From Wikipedia:

In a career that spans six decades, Williams has composed many of the most famous film scores in history, including those for Jaws, Star Wars, Superman, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, and Harry Potter. In addition, he has composed theme music for four Olympic Games, numerous television series and concert pieces.

Sadly, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Jurassic Park were not performed, but the rest of those themes were, along with Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Amistad, Catch Me If You Can, and Saving Private Ryan. With four of the fourteen pieces they performed coming from Star Wars, you might say that was the theme for the evening, and it was complete with storm troopers, Princess Leia, and Darth Vader. Yes, they actually had people in Star Wars costumes! (UPDATE: Here are some photos.)

Another neat thing about the evening was that Bruce got the audience to sing happy birthday to John on camera! As a thank you for allowing ESO to perform his music (some which hasn’t been published, like Jaws) and for allowing the interview clips to be shown, John will get a copy of our birthday song.

During the interview clip for Schindler’s List, John said he looked at the film and was deeply moved. When he went to talk to Steven Spielberg about the music, the conversation went something like this:

John: This film is incredibly moving, you truly need a better composer than me.
Steven: I know, but they are all dead!

I really enjoyed the show, and hearing the music definitely makes me want to watch the movies again. I had forgotten how perfectly frightening the music for Jaws is! And when they started to play E.T. I couldn’t help but smile – it was like I was transported back in time! E.T. was one of my favorite movies when I was a kid, and it still is. The music just gets me every time I hear it.

Happy Birthday to you John Williams! I hope you continue doing your thing for years to come.

Read: Winspear Centre

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