Williams Cancels Tanglewood Appearances

This year’s Film Night with John Williams won’t include the revered composer and conductor whose annual Tanglewood appearance attracts one of the summer’s largest, most enthusiastic audiences. Williams has canceled his appearance at the Aug. 22 event, as well as his participation during Tanglewood on Parade Aug. 4, because of a back ailment that requires rest and only limited travel over the next few weeks. – Full article at The Berkshire Eagle

John Williams’ ‘Great Performances’ Theme & Behind the Scenes Video

PBS has uploaded the full, narration-free version of John Williams’ 2009 Emmy Award winning theme for Great Performances (Click here to listen to the MP3), plus a never-before-seen behind the scenes video of the rehearsal and recording of the theme. Last Friday’s “Great Performances” on PBS presented “A John Williams Celebration” with Gustavo Dudamel conducting the Los Angeles Philhamonic. The show is now available online at the PBS website for US residents.

‘E.T.”s Finale – Spectacular Fireworks Show from the Eiffel Tower

This year’s French National Day celebration in Paris ended with John Williams’ Finale from E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, as the culmination of an amazing fireworks show from the Eiffel Tower. More than half a million people attended the nearly 3 hour concert and fireworks show, which included a repertoire of classical, opera, pop, and film music.

Watch the E.T. Finale here:


Williams to Conduct at ‘Tanglewood on Parade’ Concert

John Williams has been added to the line-up of this year’s ‘Tanglewood on Parade’ concert, which takes place on August 4 at the Koussevitzky Music Shed in Lenox, MA. According to the concert program, Williams will conduct the Boston Pops in two selections from Star Wars – “Princess Leia’s Theme” and “The Throne Room and End Title”. Earlier in the show, the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra conducted by Stéphane Denève will perform Williams’ Sound the Bells, the second movement of his Violin Concerto (with Tamara Smirnova as soloist), and his latest concert piece JUST DOWN WEST STREET…on the left, which premiered on July 5Full program and ticket purchase at BSO.org

Williams’ Latest Concert Work Premieres in Tanglewood – Reviews

Berkshire Eagle – LENOX — Having passed the milestone of 83, John Williams knows a big anniversary when he sees one.

“Just Down West Street on the left” is the many-prize-winning film composer’s birthday present to the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra on its 75th. The five-minute sparkler, premiered Sunday night in the student orchestra’s opening concert of the anniversary season, is also a love song to his cherished Tanglewood. (The title contains driving instructions, in case you need them.)

“Just Down West Street” opens with fanfares and quickly becomes a mini-concerto for orchestra, giving everybody a chance to join in the bustle and brilliance. Faculty conductor Stefan Asbury presided with the sure hand that, every year, whips this assemblage into shape.

Boston Globe – The piece telegraphs its genial nature through its title alone — “JUST DOWN WEST STREET . . . on the left” — in other words, directions to Tanglewood from the center of Lenox. The brief piece itself, too, has something of a welcome-to-town bearing in its bright hues and bustling, motoric churn. At the outset, jagged brass fanfares give way to a scurrying theme passed around the strings, who then take up a slightly darker Shostakovichian melody offset by burbling woodwinds, and later, vivid splashes of percussion. The ending is emphatic and effective.

The Boston Musical Intelligencer – A significant novelty opened the second half: a work composed by John Williams as a gift to the Tanglewood Music Center and the orchestra on this 75th anniversary. It is a short, vibrant, busy orchestral score—calling it a “scherzo” would not be amiss—with a title invented as a counterpart to the old joke: “How can I get to Carnegie Hall?” “Practice, practice, practice!” In the new piece the question seems to be, “How can I get to Tanglewood from downtown Lenox?” and the answer is, “Just Down West Street—on the left.”

In his own note Williams wrote of “…this little piece from which, I hope, the players of the TMC Orchestra might derive some small pleasure.” That pleasure certainly involves the lively interplay of tricky fanfares, busy 16th-note figures in the strings, later elements added by woodwinds against strings, building to a sonorous climax leading to a gulp-inducing sudden ending. It is a virtuoso showpiece that kept Stefan Asbury and the players busy and intent to enthusiastic purpose.

Naxos Releases New Recordings of Williams’ Cello and Bassoon Concerti

On July 3, Naxos will release new recordings of John Williams’ Bassoon Concerto (The Five Sacred Trees) and Cello Concerto as digital downloads. Both concerti were recorded by the Detroit Symphony conducted by Leonard Slatkin as part of an on-going endeavor to record a complete set of John Williams’ concerti featuring DSO Principal musicians.

John Williams
The Five Sacred Trees (Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra)
Detroit Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin
Robert Williams, Bassoon
Purchase options:

John Williams
Concerto for Cello and Orchestra
Detroit Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin
Robert deMaine, Cello
Purchase options:

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R.I.P. JAMES HORNER (1953-2015)

James Horner, the consummate film composer known for his heart-tugging scores for Field of Dreams, Braveheart and Titanic, for which he won two Academy Awards, died Monday in a plane crash near Santa Barbara. He was 61.

His death was confirmed by Sylvia Patrycja, who is identified on Horner’s film music page as his assistant.

“We have lost an amazing person with a huge heart and unbelievable talent,” Patrycja wrote on Facebook on Monday. “He died doing what he loved. Thank you for all your support and love and see you down the road.” – Full report

JWFan Reviews A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE 3CD Set

A.I. Artificial Intelligence: Limited Edition (La-La Land Records)
Music Composed and Conducted by John Williams

A Review by Mikko Ojala

A.I. Artificial Intelligence is a futuristic fantasy from 2001 born out of imaginations of two extraordinary film makers, Steven Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick. Unfortunately the latter famed director passed away before the film could be brought to filming stage and Spielberg was left to finish the movie alone as a sort of an homage to Kubrick. Set in the future of late 21st century the film deals with an experiment of creating a robot capable of love and how a young robot boy named David is sent to a home of the Swinton family whose own real son is terminally ill and cryogenically frozen. The mother of the family, Monica, imprints David to herself, in essence evoking affection and love for her in his programming. Trouble between humans and this mecha boy slowly begins to appear and when Martin, the son of the family is suddenly cured and comes home and David is no longer needed as a substitute. Abandoned by the family after several incidents that lead them to believe David means harm to their family out of jealousy, the robot boy inspired by the story of Pinocchio and the Blue Fairy of that tale goes on an odyssey that spans not only the world but millenia to try to become a real human boy to win his mother’s love.