Date: June 2nd 2012
Every year, John Williams conducts the Boston Pops Orchestra at Symphony Hall in Boston. It’s been 4 years since last seeing John Williams and I didn’t want to miss this year’s concert! My wife, brother & sister-in-law, and my cousin & cousin-in-law all decided to go this year and it wasn’t a concert I’ll forget anytime soon!
I usually make a weekend out of going to Boston, but since the weather was pretty miserable, it was pretty much just a day trip in Boston. We went to the Aquarium around lunch, and that was kind of a mistake since it was so crowded. But what else are you going to do in Boston for the day that doesn’t involve getting rained on? After a great dinner in the North End, it was off to Symphony Hall to see my third John Williams concert since 2002.
The last time I saw John Williams and the Boston Pops, it was in 2008 where he played a suite from Harry Potter, music from David Lean films (Lawrence of Arabia, Oliver Twist, Doctor Zhivago), Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls and some other stuff. It was great to hear a lot of Harry Potter music last time, but this concert was a bit different. I heard some music I’ve heard before but a lot of stuff that I haven’t.
John Williams came out and went right into the Bugler’s Dream/Olympic Fanfare, which always sounds wonderful. We’ll be hearing plenty of that this summer that’s for sure. The next two pieces were Olympic-themed, “Song for World Peace” and the 1988 theme “Olympic Spirit” which was set to an amazing montage film from previous Olympics. That film along with the music gave me goosebumps and it was very uplifting.
After that Olympic portion of the evening, they went into the opening track “Dartmoor” on War Horse. Out of the two John Williams scores that came out this year, War Horse was my favorite out of the two. Tin Tin had its moments though. As I was listening to “Dartmoor,” I was picturing scenes from the movie in my head. After the piece of War Horse, former Senator Alan Simpson came out again to do narrations of The Reivers. The first time I saw John Williams for his 70th birthday concert, Simpson was there and did narrations of the Reivers. I’m not the biggest Reivers fan but I can appreciate the music and Simpson’s readings.
After the intermission, John Williams and the Boston Pops paid tribute to Fenway Park and the Boston Red Sox with “Fanfare for Fenway.” John has been performing that one recently at Red Sox games I believe. We got to see clips of Red Sox footage, which got lots of claps and cheers from the crowd obviously. Good thing I don’t care about baseball or else I’d probably hate that portion of the concert since I’m from NY.
After that, they did an awesome tribute to three Westerns: The Cowboys, Dances with Wolves, and How The West Was Won. The Cowboys was composed by John Williams, and I’ve always liked that one. After that, was a piece I’ve been waiting to hear live for a long, long time. “John Dunbar Theme” from Dances with Wolves was played, originally composed by the late John Barry. Dances with Wolves is perhaps in my top 3/top 5 scores of all-time and absolutely loved hearing a piece from it. Would have been great to hear “Journey to Fort Sedgewick” since that’s my favorite piece but “John Dunbar Theme” is more recognizable. “How The West Was Won” by Alfred Newman was next and really enjoyed hearing that one too. If there was a concert just dedicated to Westerns I’d be a happy guy.
John Williams talked about how Warner Brothers always had the best orchestras when he was growing up, and decided to play “Now, Voyager” by Max Steiner. At first I didn’t think I knew that one but hearing the piece in full, I’ve definitely heard that. The piece was played with a montage of footage of Bette Davis. After that, John played something from The Adventures of Tin Tin. I think it might have been “The Duel” or something that was quick and very action-oriented.
Based on the program, two pieces from Superman were supposed to be played but John announced there was a little program change and he wanted to pay tribute to George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. He said after all these years working with them, never got into an argument with them and has always been a positive experience. That got the crowd applauding because you know everyone there wants to hear Raiders of the Lost Ark and Star Wars. The melody was accompanied by footage from the movies and started off with eerie theme to Jaws. Then he went into Star Wars and that’s when stomach started getting into knots and I was getting weepy. It’s ridiculous I know, but it’s something about John Williams’ music that brings out the waterworks. Maybe it’s the fact that Star Wars got me into film music or this could be the last time I see John Williams perform? You just never know sometimes. After Star Wars, he went into Raiders of the Lost Ark which probably got the biggest applause for the night. The final portion of the melody was E.T., which usually makes me cry haha but didn’t this time. This is definitely my favorite part of the concert.
As soon as the melody was done, I stood and was one of the first to give him a standing ovation. John bowed and walked off, but quickly came back for the first encore. The stage lighting turned green, which meant “Yoda’s Theme!” I don’t believe I heard that one live yet so it was nice to hear. Another one I haven’t seen John Williams play yet was “March from Superman” which was played next! That was awesome to hear. More applause, more standing and cheering for one of the greatest film composers of all-time. John exited again but he was not done for the night. He came back to play the usual “Stars and Stripes Forever.” Everyone was clapping along, John spun around and was conducting the audience like usual and it was just a blast. The evening was over, and you knew it was finally over when John puts his hands next to head like he wants to go to sleep. It was a fantastic concert and one I won’t forget.
If Lincoln truly is John Williams’ last score of his career and he makes it back to Boston next year, I will certainly trek over there again to see him perform. It will be worth it.
If you weren’t there and want to hear the concert, then check out the amazing quality of the concert below: