Not Too Long Ago, In a Place Not So Far Away…

This past Saturday, I got to do something I’ve long wanted to do: see John Williams perform live, conducting the L.A. Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl.

hb day

I did not come dressed as a Star Wars character, nor did I bring a lightsaber, but after talking to the costumed couple next to me, it was evident that my SW nerdiness ran just as deep, or deeper, than theirs, if only because I’m old and remember seeing the very first film in the theater when it first came out, when it was called simply Star Wars without any episode numbers or subtitles attached, and collecting the Topps trading cards and owning the action figures.

After the first segment of the concert, in which composer David Newman conducted the orchestra through scores for classic Hollywood films such as Sunset Boulevard and The Godfather, the 84-year-old Williams took the stage in a white tux jacket.

The crowd went wild, and out came the lightsabers in Force (heh).

Williams first teased us by playing his more recent compositions, including the score from this summer’s The BFG. But he knew what the crowd, dressed as Ewoks and Rey and gold-bikini Leia (it was cold!), was there to hear. First came “The Imperial March.”

Williams was very personable and witty between sets. He talked about how when he first saw the original SW, he saw two beautiful lead characters in Luke and Leia, assumed they’d end up together, and composed a love theme that built to “a torrid climax, hardly appropriate for a brother and sister. I didn’t find out until two years later!”

He also said he’d already said yes to scoring Episode 8 because “I can’t bear to have anyone else write music for Daisy—Rey,” whom he’d fallen in love with after seeing The Force Awakens.

After playing more SW music, Williams performed 3 encores: music from the Harry Potter and Superman movies, and ET. I kept hollering for the Raiders of the Lost Ark theme, but no luck.

I can’t properly describe how special this experience was for me. The music didn’t bring back only memories of some of my favorite films ever, but also recollections of my time in the school orchestra when I played some of Williams’s iconic scores on my violin in school concerts. I remembered the notes and the runs and crescendos and pianissimos, my fingers tapping along on an invisible instrument.

During Newman’s portion of the concert, he played pieces by Lalo Schifrin (Mission: Impossible) and Bernard Herrmann (North by Northwest, Psycho), giants in their field who left behind unforgettable themes. John Williams is a living legend, and I was thrilled I got to see him doing what he does best.

I leave you with this. May the Force be with you.

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6 Comments

  • Reply
    le0pard13
    September 6, 2016 at 9:16 am

    I knew a few people, friends and co-workers, who went to this. Glad to hear it was as special as we’d all hoped.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      September 6, 2016 at 4:09 pm

      It was beyond special. It made me giddy and nostalgic and took me over the moon. I hope your friends and coworkers had just as much fun.

  • Reply
    Eirego
    September 6, 2016 at 10:22 am

    That looks and sounds like a really fun night you.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      September 6, 2016 at 4:11 pm

      It was.

  • Reply
    Shelley
    September 6, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    I am SO green with envy, PCN !! I adore John Williams’s scores ~ maybe it’s my soft spot for brass but much as I love movie scores in general, his themes and orchestration have a special place in my heart. I’m so glad you got to experience that. Wow!

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      September 6, 2016 at 4:14 pm

      Oh, Shell, you would’ve loved this! His scores bring back some of my most favorite memories of movies but also my childhood in general. Seeing him live was definitely on my life’s to-do list.

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