Friday, May 11, 2012

Close Encounters: A John Williams Celebration - reviewed

I was at the National Concert Hall last night to hear the RTÉ Concert Orchestra perform a selection of John Williams' music.  He was 80 earlier this year and orchestras all over the world last night were playing his work.  The RCO had a guest conductor, Michael Seal, who also compered for the evening.  They started off very strong with the main march from Superman.  I've never been mad about any Superman films so I forgot how good that music is, even if it does sound a little bit too like Star Wars in places.  Various other pieces of Williams' work followed, including the wonderful Schindler's List music played by orchestra leader Mia Cooper - a work that won John Williams one of his 5 Oscars, in a year where he beat himself (Jurassic Park) and Jaws.  The first half closed with excerpts from Close Encounters of the Third Kind - some of his best and most musically challenging work.

The second part of the evening featured some pieces I was less (or not at all) familiar with: namely the Olympic Fanfare & Theme, composed for the 1984 LA Olympics, a piece from his latest film, Warhorse, and the Prayer for Peace from Munich.  I was surprised to discover that he had done the music for JFK (Gasp!  Cheating on Spielberg!)  The concert program ended with Jurassic Park, which I think is my favourite, and E.T.  Wait!  No Star Wars (for which he also beat himself in the Oscar race in 1977)? But it was ok, they came back for an encore and did the awesome hair standing up on the back of your neck main theme from Star Wars.  Michael Seal said "I just have one thing to say: A long time ago...."  I hear that music, I'm plunged into the darkness, I see the yellow words floating on a starry background... it will never get old.  And it will not be the last time that I hear John Williams' music played live.  A brilliant performance of brilliant works.  Live Long and Prosper, Mr Williams*.

*Yeah, yeah, mixing my stars up but it felt appropriate!


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