Tanglewood, August 14, 2004

‘Film Night at Tanglewood’

Koussevitzky Music Shed, Lenox, MA
Sunday, August 14, 2004

The Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by JOHN WILLIAMS
Martin Scorsese, special guest – Steven Spielberg, special guest

Boston University Tanglewood Institute Chorus


A Tribute to Bernard Herrmann
1. o­n Dangerous Ground

The Early Years in Hollywood
2. The Inquirer (from Citizen Kane)
3. The Ballad of Springfield Mountain (from The Devil and
Daniel Webster)
4. Gallop the Whip (from Currier and Ives Suite)

With Alfred Hitchcock
5. Scene d’Amour from Vertigo
6. Psycho Medley: Prelude (Driving Scene) – The Murder (Shower

7. Music from Taxi Driver: Prelude/Night Prowl – Blues

8. Prelude from North by Northwest


A Tribute to Henry Mancini
1. Overture to a Pops Concert
2. A Mancini Medley: Peter Gunn – Baby Elephant Walk – The
Pink Panther
3. Strings o­n Fire
4. Pennywhistle Jig, from The Molly Maguires
5. Days of Wine and Roses, from Days of Wine and Roses
Boston University Tanglewood Institute (BUTI) Young
Artists Chorus
6. Whistling Away the Dark, from Darling Lili
Singer : Ron Raines
7. Finale from Victor/Victoria
8. Music o­n the Way, from a theme from The Molly Maguires
Singer : Monica Mancini
9. Moon River, from Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Singers : Monica Mancini and Ron Raines
BUTI Young Artists Chorus

Concert Review by Benoit Bertrand

There were film montages for PsychoNorth by Northwest, the Mancini Medley and Music o­n the Way (which was a tribute to H. Mancini by his daughter Monica).

Scorsese was not announced till the very last days leading to the show, and Spielberg was not even written in the program notes we were given (though he is in the program notes that have been updated o­n www.bso.org). They both were announced in the Boston Globe, local newspapers and o­n the public radio. Many people did not know Spielberg was coming and it was a big surprise for them.

I did not see Scorsese come through the backstage door (the o­ne at the left of the Music Shed, as the concert hall is called), but Spielberg came at 7:30 and spoke with the security, orchestra and management people for a while. Mr. Williams came at 8:00 (only half an hour before the beginning of the concert!). He was dressed in a black tuxedo (he then changed his black jacket for a white o­ne, as he oftens wears it).

Scorsese spoke during the tribute to Bernard Herrmann (humourously evoking his relationship with the composer for Taxi Driver). Spielberg did his part during the tribute to Henry Mancini. He was there with Scorsese during the recording sessions of Taxi Driver. He told us that, at o­ne point, he complimented Herrmann o­n his talent, and Herrmann then asked him “If you like me so, how come you never asked me to work with you?”, and Spielberg answered : “I would never have someone else than John Williams to write the music of my films” (dialogues are approximate).

It was not as fun as a concert o­nly made of John Williams’s own music, but it was quite a show to watch the maestro lead the Boston Pops and the Chorus in a concert that was highlighted by the few film montages, and the two singers, o­ne of which is Mancini’s own daughter. (She was invited by Mr. Williams himself, and when she was introduced to the audience, she said that John Williams was for her the best composer to have ever lived.) And, last but not least, after the last song was sung and played, people stood up and applauded the maestro for a while. Then Spielberg announced that, as the concert celebrated John Williams’s 25th year as a member of the BSO family, a tree was to be planted in Tanglewood in his honour. They did the same for Bernstein and Osawa. The tree was carried o­nto the stage, and Williams was completely taken aback. The video cameras that were used during the concert to project the montages o­n the lawn now filmed Williams o­n the stage accepting his present. Williams thanked them for that, and after saying that he was particularly thankful to the BUTI Young Artists Chorus, he announced that, since the Olympic Games had just opened, he was to play Call of the Champions for us. This was a complete surprise! The Chorus was obviously not as good as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, but the Boston Pops did a very good job! At the end of the song, Williams was o­nce more given an ovation. He went backstage and came back o­nly o­nce, signaling to the audience that he was tired and was going to bed!

I hurried myself to the right of the Music Shed. People were already queuing. We waited for about 30 minutes. There was quite a line waiting for an autograph, but we were told that Mr. Williams had left… Yet, that night at Tanglewood was special: two special guests, a chorus, the 25th anniversary: it was more than I expected!

If you ever planned o­n going to Tanglewood this year, there is a “special focus” exhibition at the Visitor Center to celebrate John Williams’s 25th year with the BSO. It will o­nly last the summer, but you can enter the ground of Tanglewood for free between the concerts. In the afternoon, it’s between 1:00pm at 4:15pm. Here is what the program says:

“John Williams and the BSO: A 25-Year Collaboration” celebrates Mr. Williams’s 25-year relationship with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Williams was the nineteenth Conductor of the Boston Pops from 1980 to 1993, then became Laureate Conductor of the Boston Pops and Artist-in-Residence at Tanglewood. The exhibit features photographs and other materials documenting this 25-year association, including concert activities, tours, recordings with the Boston Pops Orchestra, and the recordings he made of the original film scores for Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan conducting members of the BSO in Symphony Hall.

The exhibit actually features more than a dozen pictures of Williams during particulary important events: with C-3PO during the inaugural season of the BPO, during the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra first tour in Japan, when he passed the baton to Keith Lockart, playing o­ne of three pianos in Mozarts’ triple piano concert, etc…, and o­ne as a child, in 1940. There was also an original poster advertising the release of Pops in Space o­n CD and cassette. Also featured were a few original LPs of Williams conducting the BPO (Aisle Seat for example). The main highlight was a sheet of paper o­n which was hand-written the notes for the theme of Schindler’s List (his name was also signed o­n the sheet). A videocassette was playing in a 12-inch TV the history of Tanglewood. I did not watch the entire thing, and o­nly saw Mr. Williams appear for a few seconds in an interview.

If you ever come to Tanglewood to see John Williams in concert, know that you can bring your camera! Although it is forbidden to take pictures of the concert or record it, nobody searches your bag, since many people picnic o­n the lawns and bring many things with them. I was thus able to take many pictures of Williams (sometimes with Spielberg) with my 200mm zoom, often without using my flash. I was seating o­n the 6th row from the stage, but a bit far off o­n the left. Yet, I was lucky to be o­n the left, for the singers and the special guests were o­n this side too, so that Mr. Williams was always looking in that direction.

Finally, if you are interested in finding the tree that inspired John Williams to write Treesong, it is quite easy to find it in the Public Garden of Boston. It is a Chinese dawn redwood (metasequoia). When you enter the Garden through Arlington Street (Commonwealth Avenue Mall is behind you), it’s o­n the right handside. It’s easy to locate, since most of the trees in the garden are either willows, oaks or elms. The tree is really huge and beautiful, it’s worth a while!

Yet, if you plan o­n finding rare Boston Pops CDs conducted by John Williams in Boston, think again! I almost bought them
all! Sorry…

— Benoit BERTRAND.

Concert Review by ‘Diskobolus’

A large portion of the MIT community has had the chance to hear great music at Symphony Hall likely performed by either the Boston Symphony Orchestra or the Boston Pops. Students in the music department, for instance, often attend concerts at this venue as a part of coursework. Many are unfamiliar with Tanglewood, though, which being the summer home of the BSO, is difficult to reach. Located in the Berkshires region of Western Massachusetts, Tanglewood is just over two hours away from Boston by car. Furthermore, its summer season takes place when much of the school?s population is away from campus. Nevertheless, Tanglewood is fantastic musical center that deserves a visit.

Tanglewood?s grounds feature large greens, groves of tall trees, music studios and schools, and several performance halls. Among these is Koussevitzky Music Shed, an open-air venue which features a roofed stage and seating, but also opens o­nto the grounds. From these lawns, patrons have visibility of the stage, but can relax picnic-style. This is by far the most popular attraction of Tanglewood, as thousands of people are known to pack o­nto this field. They will lounge around for hours, taking full advantage of the atmosphere while enjoying both food and music.

This pastime likens back to the days of Johann Sebastian Bach?s family picnics, when the composer and his countless relatives would lug instruments of all kinds outside and make music all day while eating and essentially enjoying life. Tanglewood patrons emulate this admirably. It is absolutely common to see elaborately prepared meals, champagne in wine bottle holders, o­nce even an enormous, pre-roasted pig being feasted upon. People will carry real furniture from their vehicles, including unfoldable wooden tables and upholstered chairs. Coupled with the beauty of the grounds, this setting is perfect for a concert.

On this Saturday evening, they left the music making part to John Williams, who reprised his tribute to composers Bernard Hermann and Henry Mancini, a concert he originally performed at Symphony Hall in late May. Most of the music was repeated from that performance, but the significant addition to the program was the commentary by film directors Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg.

Scorsese, who collaborated with Herrmann o­n the film Taxi Driver, first recounted his experiences watching Alfred Hitchcock films in the theater which Herrmann scored. He cited Herrmann?s music as the ingredient which made him want to see those films again and again. Then Scorsese recalled Herrmann?s gruff nature when the director first asked him to score ?Taxi Driver?, to which Herrmann immediately replied, ?I don?t do pictures about cabbies.? Apparently it was the main character?s habit of eating cereal in peach brandy that intrigued Herrmann enough to write the score. Williams performed a medley from ?Taxi Driver?, which varied from gorgeous saxophone solos to violent surges of brass and percussion.

To share words about Mancini, Steven Spielberg then took the stage to deafening applause. He first offered a short anecdote regarding Herrmann, recalling meeting the composer and telling him repeatedly how much he loved his music, to which an apparently unconvinced Herrmann said, ?If you like my music so much, why do you always hire John Williams?? The entire audience, as well as Williams, erupted in laughter at this, and Spielberg then assured us, ?The o­nly composer who will ever score my films is John Williams.?

Spielberg proceeded to introduce pieces such as the themes from Peter Gunn and The Pink Panther, and my favorite Mancini piece, the ?Finale? from Victor/Victoria. After announcing ?Strings o­n Fire?, he cited Linda Toote as the piccolo soloist for the ?Pennywhistle Jig?, which prompted more laughter. But Spielberg then took the microphone too early, having forgotten about the Jig, and Williams had to wave him away and whisper in his ear. Apologetic, Spielberg announced, ?I accidentally stepped o­n Linda Toote?s cue.?

The Boston University Tanglewood Institute chorus performed Days of Wine and Roses, and then as an encore, Call of the Champions, composed by Williams for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. A further surprise was Spielberg?s announcement that a tree to commemorate Williams was to be planted o­n the Tanglewood grounds, and then the tree was actually brought o­n stage. Williams received a similar honor in 1993 when his name was placed o­n the steps of Boston?s Hatch Shell, joining the names of other great composers including, of course, Johann Sebastian Bach.

Concert Review by Richard Dyer (from The Boston Globe)

‘Williams celebration has a surprise ending’

By Richard Dyer, Globe Staff  |  August 17, 2004

LENOX — The celebrations of John Williams’s 25-year association with the Boston Symphony and the Boston Pops closed Saturday night with a dressed-up reprise of his wonderful “Evening at Pops” tribute to two film composers: his mentor, Bernard Herrmann, and his friend, Henry Mancini.

This time there were two special guests, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg. Scorsese hosted the Herrmann half of the program — Herrmann’s final film score was for Scorsese’sTaxi Driver. The director recalled telephoning Herrmann to ask him to participate. The famously gruff composer replied: “I don’t do pictures about cabbies.” But he did, writing in a jazz style and emphasizing the brass. Scorsese wanted o­ne special sonic effect; Herrmann obliged, but it wasn’t quite what Scorsese had in mind. “Play it backwards,” Herrmann said as he left the room, and he was exactly right. He died later that night.

The musical performances emphasized the moody, melancholy characteristics of Herrmann’s work; Herrmann was an extraordinary musician, entirely familiar with the entire classical literature and with the avant-garde of his day. Saxophonist Kenneth Radnofsky contributed a piercingly sad solo to the “Taxi Driver” sequence.

The new element in the Mancini segment was the stylish contribution of the high-school-age chorus from the Boston University Tanglewood Institute (baritone Ron Raines and the composer’s talented singing daughter, Monica Mancini, were welcome returnees from the Boston edition). Spielberg received an overwhelming ovation, but repeatedly deflected applause toward Williams, saying, “John Williams will always be the composer for my pictures.” (He also presented Williams with a surprise announcement: A large tree will be planted in his honor at Tanglewood, alongside trees dedicated to Leonard Bernstein and Seiji Ozawa.)

Williams received the greatest ovation of the evening and, typically modest, thanked Ozawa and Tanglewood for all their support. Williams has been good for the orchestra, and the orchestra has helped Williams succeed in his objective: to establish the worth of film music beyond its use in the movie house.


A collection of pictures from the concert, courtesy of Ayaz Asif