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The music of John Williams

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The music of John Williams The music of John Williams

The soundtrack of our lives

ORONO Music is a universal language that pervades our lives, from radio, television and movies to the personal soundtracks we put together with our own media. But one man has dominated film, crafting music that resonates with our subconscious so intensely that just hearing a note or two can transport you back to the moment you first heard it. On Feb. 1, at the Collins Center for the Arts in Orono, Bangor Symphony Orchestra will be treating their audience to 'The Pops: The Music of John Williams.

'I'm a huge fan of John Williams and his music, for numerous reasons,' said Lucas Richman, the music director and conductor for the Bangor Symphony Orchestra.' One cannot deny that his contribution to film music has defined the soundtrack for generations of filmgoers. And with many of his scores he's created indelible memories so that when we hear his music away from the movie theater, we're immediately transported back into the film that we first enjoyed.'

And part of the magic of John Williams isn't that he's created not just one or two masterworks. He's created dozens - decades worth of beautiful shared memories that we've collectively grown up with.

'Whenever I'm in front of an orchestra and play the opening of Star Wars,' there is such a visceral response from the audience. Very few composers have the ability to elicit this kind of reaction,' Richman said. 'It goes beyond a casual appreciation and reaches deep into a sense memory.'

star wars

Richman has been a guest conductor for orchestras across the country and the world. In addition to winning a Grammy in 2011 for his conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on Christopher Tin's album 'Calling All Dawns' for the category of Best Classical Crossover Album, he has worked with numerous film composers, including films for Academy Award-nominees for 'The Village,' 'As Good as it Gets,' 'Face/Off,' 'Breakdown,' 'The Manchurian Candidate' and 'Kit Kittredge: An American Girl.' And recently, he was personally by John Williams invited to be the conductor for the three-month national summer tour of 'Star Wars in Concert.'

'I grew up in Los Angeles and I was very involved in the Young Musicians Foundations. Initially, I was a violinist and later became a conductor for the orchestra. Mr. Williams was gracious enough to appear as a guest conductor for some of our fundraising events,' Richman said. 'It was through the YMF that we met. The first memory I have of meeting him, I was playing piano for the adventures of E.T. with John Williams conducting. That has to be almost 30 years ago.'

Since then, Richman has worked with or on behalf Williams on numerous occasions.

'At one point he invited me to assist him in concerts at the Houston Symphony and has recommended me for various conducting opportunities when he was unable to conduct himself, anything from conducting the Oslo Philharmonic to conducting the national tour of Star Wars in Concert,'' he said. 'We also continued to serve on the advisory board for the Young Musicians Foundation.'

In many cases, when you hear a soundtrack, it can enhance your movie-going experience, but may not stick with you. In the case of John Williams, the music becomes an integral part of the experience and elevates it to a whole new level.

'Each one of [his pieces] is such a gem. What is always amazing to me is that people speak of film composers as being chameleons and adapting their style to the film they're setting to music. Mr. Williams writes in such a way yes, he adapts, but he changes the film,' said Richman. 'And it's no secret that filmmakers like Stephen Spielberg go out of their way to accommodate the music that John Williams has written.'

The Pops will be celebrating not only John Williams' well known pieces such as 'Star Wars' and 'E.T. The Extra Terrestrial,' but some of his more dramatic works as well, really highlighting his range.

'There is a wide spectrum of pieces in the library of John Williams, tapping into not only his beloved space movies, but the emotionally hard-hitting works, such as Schindler's List' and Angela's Ashes.'

 'We have a guest concert master Roger Wilkie [he] has several times served as concert master for recordings of John Williams. He knows [Williams'] music intimately and will be playing the solo for Schindler's List,'' he said.

Richman said people will also be able to enjoy music that hearkens backs to Williams' origins as a jazz pianist, which is embodied in the music that was written and performed for the film 'Catch Me if You Can.' Richman said that he felt that that score was one of the most brilliant in recent years.

For many people, the popular culture of film is a nexus for the arts and for many John Williams has been the gateway to orchestral music.

'The magnificent thing is when I was on the Star Wars in Concert' tour, the way the show was set up is we had an 82-piece touring orchestra that performed with film clips from all six of the Star Wars' films,' said Richman. 'It was me on my podium and Anthony Daniels (known as C-3P0) serving as narrator. And that was it. We would have thousands of people coming to the shows to watch and hear a symphonic orchestra play symphonic music. The focus was very much on the orchestra. I can't tell you how many kids came up to me after the show saying, I want to learn the violin.'

He noted that to this very day, the soundtrack for 'Star Wars' is one of the best sellers of all times.

'When you hear the low tones of the celli and basses playing two notes - an E and an F you know that a shark is coming,' said Richman. 'But when you see it in front of the people who are making the sound of the shark or the music for the shark, there's an immediate appreciation for the coloration that [Williams] puts into that music and how brilliant he is in isolating the elements and sounds of the orchestra in order to create these reactions emotional reactions. That's what I love about doing concerts like this. This music we know and love is now being put front and center and the audience can see what the musicians go through to bring this to life.'

For more information about the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, visit

indiana jones

The program

John Williams Tribute

Nicole Kaplan, Soprano

Lucas Richman, Conductor

Act I

'The Cowboys Overture'

Suite from 'Jaws' (Movt.1)

'The Accidental Tourist'

'Make Me Rainbows' from 'Fitzwilly'

            Ms. Kaplan

'Can You Read My Mind?' from 'Superman'

            Ms. Kaplan

'Superman March'

Theme from 'Angela's Ashes' (Movt.1)

Theme from 'Schindler's List' (Movt.1)

Hedwig's Theme from 'Harry Potter' (Movt.1)

'Adventures on Earth' from 'ET'

Act II

'The Mission'

Escapades for Alto Sax and Orchestra (Movt. 1)

Dr. David Demsey Alto Sax

 'I Want To Spend My Life With You' from 'The Paper Chase'

            Ms. Kaplan

'Somewhere in My Memory' from 'Home Alone'

            Ms. Kaplan

'Liberty Fanfare'

'Hymn to the Fallen' from "Saving Private Ryan"

'Indiana Jones'

'Star Wars Suite'

            Main Title - Princess Leia's Theme - Throne Room & End Title

Encore: 'The Imperial March'

Last modified on Friday, 24 January 2014 17:33


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