Spend enough time with me (or just check out my iPod), and you’ll figure out pretty quickly that I’m … let’s severely understate it and just say I’m rather fixated on film music. I know next to nothing about current pop trends, but give me a Herrmann or a Goldsmith and I’m completely in my element. In fact, being a film composer has been a near-lifelong fantasy of mine. (Which I know will inspire at least one comment from a certain individual asking why I never did anything about that…)
So it goes without saying that I was thrilled when one of my birthday presents a few months back consisted of tickets to Friday night’s performance of the San Antonio Symphony, “Star Wars & More John Williams”. That title more or less says it all – Williams is arguably the most famous of all film composers, and even if you don’t know his name, you know the soundtrack that introduced film music to my generation. My day was made two months before I even had to wake up to it.
The show attracted quite a crowd, including people who decided to pay their own kind of tribute. In the 15 minutes before the show, I spotted several Hogwarts denizens, Indiana Jones, Superman, Yoda, and Film Classics Productions’ Bryan Ortiz and James Hartz (who, not entirely coincidentally, shot a 60-second remake of Jaws yesterday). And I was even more impressed by the number of kids in the audience. Buses full of students, parents with their children (many of them even younger than I was when I first heard Williams, and I was 5) – I loved seeing that. I love that there are people who still care about introducing children to the arts, especially to the symphony. And I wish more people supported that.
Given that Williams’ career spans over half a century, it’s a challenge to try to sum that up in just two hours, but I thought the selections well chosen, from the opening Olympic Fanfare through the encore, the incomparable Raiders March. In between, we were treated to selections ranging from the expected (E.T., Jaws, Superman, Schindler’s List, Harry Potter) to welcome surprises (1941, The Terminal, NBC Nightly News). With each piece, the orchestra – conducted with a steady hand and a light touch by Michael Krajewski – rose to the occasion, capturing the spirit of the music so well that at times I could close my eyes and imagine Williams himself leading the way.
But it was Star Wars that brought most of us here, and it was Star Wars that brought all of us to our feet. I wish I could come up with something more than “you had to be there”, but there really is no better way to put it. It wasn’t just the experience of hearing that music live in all its glory. It was the sheer joy everyone had in performing it, from the musicians to Krajewski to the cosplayers who showed up onstage to pay tribute to the characters we know and love. When Darth Vader walks in and uses the Force Choke to take over conducting The Imperial March, you know you’re seeing something special.
It was an awesome evening, and one I don’t plan on forgetting. If you were there, I hope you had as much fun as I did. If you missed it, I hope you get a chance to see a performance in the near future. This symphony deserves our applause, and not just for the one night.
Thanks as always for reading and for the opportunity to share my enthusiasms with you. Until the next post, keep your ears open…