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John Williams: A Night At The Movies (October 25th 2011, Lincoln Center, New York Philharmonic)

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Honestly for me Schindlers List selections, the bit from Sabrina and the encores are what made the program for me. It was a marvelous show but as I've said I would really love to see a program dedicated to him. This is his 3rd NY show in about 7 years and not one of them was all about his music.

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I was at this concert last night, and was sitting in the first row. A few observations:

- The last time I saw him was 2005 at Tanglewood and I was sitting near the back, so I was curious to see how he looked (from an age point of view). I must say for someone turning 80 in a few months, I thought he looked great. Yes, he does look like an 80 year old, but there is plenty of color in his face. Actually, I've known people in their 60's that didn't look as healthy as he did yesterday. His conducting was very energetic at times, and I'd be very happy if I'm that energetic at that age.

- The Schlinder's List and Fiddler on the Roof violin parts were performed by a guest soloist (I can't recall his name). John Wiliams and him seemed to share a great deal of mutual respect for each other. They kept smiling at each other during the more fun Fiddler on the Roof music. During one of his solos of the more emotional Schlinder's List music, John closed his eyes for a second and shook his head as if to say "that was beautiful"

- His conducting was amazing. There was one extraordinary moment during a very fast scherzo type of Fiddler on the Roof music accompanied by the violin. For about 2 minutes, he conducted the orchestra during this very rapid and complex cue while watching the soloist the whole time. He didn't even need to look at his score. It was extraordinary to watch.

- It was very evident how humble he is. Often the crowd broke into massive rounds of applause after each piece and he seemed very appreciative of that, constantly saying thank you. After Schlinder's List, the soloist invited John to stand out in front for the audience to applause, but he refused saying the soloist should take the applause instead. John recounted that he felt a little embarrassed at asking the soloist to play Sabrina. I thought to myself "you are JOHN WILLIAMS. Any soloist would pay to perform your music with you". That just shows how his fame and success hasn't gone to his head, and why he may be reluctant to meet fans after concerts.

- It was a little disappointing that I couldn't meet him. To be honest, I don't really care about getting a signature. I just want to shake his hand and say how much I enjoy his music. 10 seconds, that's all. Oh well, maybe next time.

All in all, a very enjoyable evening.

All the best,


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Concert last night was amazing, as it always is to see JW in person.  The second half the program was literally the exact same thing he did at Tanglewood a couple months ago, even with the same soloist (Gil Shaham) and the same surprise Sabrina performance, but since the soloist selections and the Tribute to the Film Composer aren't selections he does often I was perfectly fine with that.  And to add to what Damien said above, I was also in the front row and it was interesting to see the reactions between the soloist and JW.  During the applause after the Schinder's List performance I could make out the soloist saying "That's for you" to JW.  One interesting thing was that the first chair violinist left the stage during the section with the guest soloist...I'm curious what the reason for that was.

Also, one of the people sitting next to me actually left during the intermission and did not return for the second half. :o

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Thanks for that review, chinaismine!

Can some of the other people who attended write reviews as well? Also can somebody post the exact set list played, since it apparently differed from the pre-announced setlist?


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I attended this great concert. It was an amazing experience, as expected, to see John Williams conduct his own pieces. It was great as well to hear powerful renditions of Spartacus and Vertigo under Williams' baton. Truth is, I really should get those scores on CD.

Needless to say there was a fantastic atmosphere surrounding the performance. That was fun to be there!

I and a few other members from here were slightly disappointed not to meet our beloved Maestro in person after the concert, having waited for him to come out at the stage door in vain!

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I wouldn't be able to recall the entire setlist, but from what I remember it was exactly the same as the one posted plus the "Theme from Sabrina" after Fiddler on the Roof , then he did the theme from Star Wars set to film from all 6 films. Left stage for 30 seconds, came back did Yodas Theme, left again for ten seconds and did Indian Jones followed by the Imperial March.

I have to say the piece from Vertigo (I'm completely unfamiliar with the score) was absolutely beautiful, so powerful and brilliantly performed. Other highlights of the night was Schindler's List and Fiddler, the power Shaham put into these pieces was outstanding, just watching him play was moving in itself. You could tell how much emotion he was putting into the performance and it made those pieces even more incredible than they already are. And for those who I was fortunate enough to meet before the concert all asked me what I brought for him to sign and were all kinda surprised when I said Sabrina because it was my favorite score. So needless to say Shaham's performance of Sabrina completely made my night. I prefer it played with a piano versus a violin as the main focus of the piece, but again the emotional content Shaham and Williams gave in their entire performance was absolutely incredible.

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Such an awesome concert!

Hooray for Hollywood was enjoyable and energetic, and I hadn't realized this at the 2007 concert, but it's also perfectly synced to the film clips accompanying it, there's even some Mickey mousing in there!

I've never been much of a fan of Korngold's Robin Hood march, but it was performed very well. It was probably the least interesting piece of the evening for me.

Spartacus and Vertigo? My god! Vertigo was appropriately passionate, and hearing it live truly has given me a new level of appreciation for the piece, it was very nice. Spartacus was powerful! I was probably more excited for this piece than any other on the program, to be honest - even if just because I knew that this may be the only time I ever get to hear it in concert. It didn't disappoint! The way that the brass sound filled the hall was spectacular, the only other piece on the program that reached those heights for me was Close Encounters.

Close Encounters was extremely well performed. It was the one piece that evening that truly gave me chills, such powerful music. The brass fanfares of the communication theme near the end were absolutely glorious. It's such a great feeling to be reminded of how great you think a piece of music is. I haven't listened to Close Enconters in a while, this just blew me away.

Adventures on Earth on the other hand....it could have been better. Maybe it's because I've never been a huge fan of the arrangement, but I also feel that the piece lacked a lot of the energy that it could have had. It sort of annoyed me the the principal horn, Phil Meyers, flubbed two of the big horn solos in the piece. He hasn't been good for year, but I suppose because of a tenure system he still holds the position. Whenever I see them play one of my favorite games is counting how many flubs Meyers makes in a night. It just annoyed me this time around because I like the music so much...oh well.

Tribute to the Film composer is kind of an awkward arrangement, but I guess it's fun for some people. I liked hearing the Patton march in it. That was a highlight.

Gil Shaham and Williams have a lot of mutual respect, of course as we all know their work together goes back quite a few years. To Treesong at the very least. What energy this man has! Shaham looked as his he thoroughly enjoyed and loved every note he played. There is a true musician right there. He is a real performer, yes, but it is so evident that he honestly is deeply moved by the music he plays. Por Una Cabeza was fun. Three Pieces from Schindler's List was one of the most emotional live concert experiences I've had - the way Shaham communicated the music was brilliant and moving. And Fiddler on the Roof? The joy on his face while playing this! The whole orchestra played the piece so energetically, you could tell everyone was loving it. When Williams introduced Sabrina and talked briefly about Shaham, the gratitude in his voice and words was evident. Sabrina was very nice, and the film clips were great top - i'd never realized before how beautiful Hepburn was! The Williams/Shaham collaboration was the highlight of the evening and was worth every penny of that ticket price.

Then you had the Star Wars main titles, the concert arrangement that segues into the end credits. It was awesome, of course. Yoda's theme as the first encore was a very welcome surprise. The Raiders March and the Imperial March rounded them out, and were quite good.

The hall was packed, I think the concert was very nearly sold out. If the ticket prices weren't as high as they were I'm sure it WOULD have sold out, like the 2007 concerts. It was a great evening, and if this is the last time I ever get to see Williams perform then it was a good program to go out on!

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It's been a good while since my last post but I flew over from the U.K. to New York especially for the concert. My thinking was that this would be the last time I see JW live but, you know, the experience has made me quite serious about figuring out a way, a means of seeing him in Boston or in L.A. each year.

As others have said, I would have loved to have seen an all-Williams playlist but that wasn't to be. That's not to say I didn't enjoy the other material; I'm going to seek out Vertigo certainly. Highlights for me included CE3K, the Schindler's List pieces and the encores.

I visited Abbey Road Studios in 2005 for the ROTS recording sessions and as JW left the studio after a hard day's recording, he was almost being propped up on both sides by assistants and helped into his car. He seemed very fragile. But the energy of his performance on Tuesday night was remarkable, as energetic as I've seen him conducting.

Shame he didn't exit via the stage door. It wasn't a bid crowd, was it? Of the success stories that some have had in meeting JW pre- or post-concert/rehearsal, what is the common denominator? I've seen a few photos, even videos posted here and elsewhere of fan meetings with the Maestro. In what circumstances have these generally taken place?

Another thing. Did anyone else see that Mark Snow was in attendance? I recall John Debney commenting on his twitter feed about attending a JW concert recently and just being in awe of the man. He's clearly commands so much respect from the other film composers out there.

Feels good to be posting here again. Best to all.


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Sir James Galway was in the audience as well.

I was a little annoyed tonight - I saw one of my former students at the homecoming game at the school I'm working for, she's a flute major now at Montclair University. She came up to me and before she even told me the story she per-apologized. She then proceeded to tell me that her flute teacher was playing in the concert. That could have been my ticket to an autograph if I had only known a few days earlier!

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  • 5 weeks later...

I and a few other members from here were slightly disappointed not to meet our beloved Maestro in person after the concert, having waited for him to come out at the stage door in vain!

Speaking about disappointed JWFan members, here's finally a photo I promised to post here long ago! :P


L to R: MAG-SI, obiwan71, Joe Brausam and yours truly. Really had to force a smile here, and it was all because of you, Mr Black Turtleneck, for choosing not to come out and graciously sign a few autographs like you were (are?!) known to do! :P

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