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John Williams in Pittsburgh/Post-Concert Reception


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I am curious if there is anyone else on this board that attended the John Williams in Concert at the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra last Saturday and also the Post Concert Reception?

I was at both and to no surprise the show was excellent! Very similar to his recent shows where he played music from Harry Potter, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, A Tribute to Film Composers which was the same score he did to the Oscars montage only this was to actually film clips of each theme he was playing instead of the lights. He also played ET, Schindler's List, the opening to The Last Crusade (with the film playing), and the Star Wars Suite. He also treated us to three Encores, Memoirs of a Geisha, Indiana Jones (Raiders March), and the NBC Nightly News.

The crowd was really in to the show and John Williams was great as always.

However, if you purchased a Gold Circle Ticket (expen$ive!) there was a Post Concert Reception that advertised "An Appearance By John Williams". We were lucky enough to have the post concert reception tickets and made our way to the reception room. As we waited, they told us John Williams was on his way and they were promised he would be there for an hour with everybody. The room was jam packed with people waiting to meet him with cameras, and i saw some with stuff for John Williams to sign (no surprise). It was finally time for John Williams to show up and everyone was obviously excited.

Now, in 2004 I was lucky enough to attend the Post Concert Reception with John WIlliams in Pittsburgh and he worked the room by signing anything you had and taking pictures with people (which I got!). And there was no security, only one person from Heinz Hall following him to help out. An unreal experience!!! However, this time John Williams came out with his jacket on, talked for exactly 2 minutes and 32 seconds, quickly said goodbye with security around him and ran for the exit, no pictures, no autographs, just 2 minutes.

Now I am not mad at all, I already had my great experience with John Williams, he is the best! But I am concerned. I hope John Williams isn't sour at fans after that Boston incident recently. It was kind of surprising to see all of the security. I guess the entire situation seemed like one big expensive mi$under$tanding. John Williams got into a car and was driven off without signing anything that night for anyone.

Just curious if anyone else was there and knows what happened? Please don't be mad at us John Williams!!!

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That would be sad if there was any carry over from the Boston debacle for future concerts. I hope all of you did enjoy the concert and the chance to see Williams conduct in person.

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Well, I certainly hope he is not "through" with his fans - visiting after concerts, signing autographs, etc. It's a shame that some idiots could have ruined it for the rest of us.

I have to say though, if I'd bought that more-expensive "Gold Circle" ticket I would be pretty upset, mostly because of the price I'm sure you paid for that ticket. If it was due to Williams himself deciding that he wasn't interested in hanging out then that's certainly his right, but in that case the venue promised (and sold tickets for) something they either hadn't cleared through his management, or through him personally. Sounds as if they were still promising the hour-long event right up until he got there. Although I'm sure they have some sort of disclaimer policy to cover their tails, I'd be contacting the box office for a refund in the difference between that Gold Circle ticket and the cost of the standard ticket without the after-party.

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Hello,

I assume that John Williams had to catch his flight back to L.A. I remember that, when he did this special performance with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra in February 2007, he returned to his home immediately after the concert as well. Remember, his schedule is very full, and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and its audience are very lucky to have him for this performance.

And regarding "An Appearance By John Williams": He did appear. So, although you are disappointed, you certainly were not fooled. I understand that you wished for a personal reception of some kind, but nobody seems to have promised (and sold) a personal reception.

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Hello,

I assume that John Williams had to catch his flight back to L.A. I remember that, when he did this special performance with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra in February 2007, he returned to his home immediately after the concert as well. Remember, his schedule is very full, and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and its audience are very lucky to have him for this performance.

And regarding "An Appearance By John Williams": He did appear. So, although you are disappointed, you certainly were not fooled. I understand that you wished for a personal reception of some kind, but nobody seems to have promised (and sold) a personal reception.

As long as cbwatts' original story here is accurate (and there's no reason to think otherwise), I think my issue here would be not so much with Williams, but with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for advertising it in such a misleading way. If those expensive tickets were sold under the notion that Williams would be appearing for about an hour - and then he only stayed for two minutes - then that's false adverstising. Even if he did appear for those two minutes (long enough to make it NOT "false advertising"), it's pretty shameful and irresponsible to sell tickets under a pretense that you have no way or intention of following up on, or to mislead people into spending money on something you have no intention of truly delivering.

If it was a last-minute emergency or something, that's understandable. But "he had to catch his flight" (or something similarly schedule-related) is absolutely no excuse whatsoever. If Williams was booked out on a quick flight then the PSO should have known about that before selling tickets to something they couldn't guarantee, and certainly his management would have known about that. So yes, if people were told he'd be there a certain amount of time and then he wasn't then they were indeed fooled. But hey, if they never guaranteed a certain amount of time then of course that's where you have to deal with the fact that as MovieMusicMaestro says, he did actually make his appearance.

I'd be fine buying a ticket to something like that if it meant I may get to actually meet Williams for a moment or two, a photo opportunity, or even to ask a question or two. But to just be "in the room" when he walks through isn't something I can imagine many people paying for, especially in today's economy. You can see him walk just fine while you're sitting in the audience, and unless it's an outdoor venue then you've already been "in the room" with him...so, no need to buy an expensive ticket just for those two things. I'd be definitely filing a complaint there, and asking for a refund of the difference - as much as we appreciate John Williams, there's no reason the PSO should cash in on your hope of a chance to meet him [again] in person. Of course, this is all my opinion and you may choose to disagree, but I'd say shame on the PSO for poor marketing.

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Well then yep, there you go. I guess the part about promising an hour was more hearsay at the event while folks were standing around waiting. That stinks, but oh well.

BTW, sorry if I seem a little upset about something that I wasn't even affected by, but I've seen this sort of thing pop up quite a few times where some organizations try to cash in on potential mob-mentality-level excitement. A few years ago we were playing in a town outside of L.A. and the sponsors were feeding us dinner a few hours before the concert. Since they are not legally allowed to sell tickets to our programs, they tried to regain some of their cash by selling tickets to people who wanted to come and have dinner with our musicians! It's also happened in other places, although of course it's infinitely easier to sell tickets for people to meet John Williams than the members of the Air Force Bands, but it does happen, and it's really frustrating. Glad to know this wasn't the case, and like I said originally, I hope Williams isn't close to stopping his lengthier public appearances.

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I am only guessing but it really looked like he had no idea they had the reception planned and he possibly needed to go. This was around 10:30pm at night, and after 3 encores maybe he wasn't going to bend and do something he never agreed to. But it is true, he did fulfill the "appearance by" obligation.

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I was there. In a strange, twisted way, the fact that he didn't sign anything for you -- anyone -- really makes me reassured. I'll explain.

I knew that traffic would be a bugger getting into Pittsburgh. Traffic is always bad on the Parkway coming into the 'Burgh from Monroeville, and this past Friday featured the Red Sox at the Pirates, and interleague games are always big draws. Plus, with Anthrocon in town, I figured that the furries would have some of the parking garages tied up or at least people gawking over them for the U2 concert tix would. I only saw two, I was bummed.

Ok, so after eating dinner in Monroeville, we head in. I only make one wrong turn, getting off at Grant instead of Stanwix, but that actually put me in better position to find a parking garage along Penn Avenue. No biggie, I parked at Sixth and Penn, with plenty of time to spare to find drinks beforehand. It wasn't until I read my program that I realized Heinz Hall ticket holders can get guaranteed parking at Ninth and Penn, which is just across from the theater and not three blocks away. This will be important later.

We find a bar at Sixth and Penn, so with over an hour to spare, we go in for a drink; it's still happy hour. Then we walk over to the theater. Yay, all you Red Sox fans, spend money in my city.

I'm used to going to sporting arenas where you have to empty your pockets and get padded down. Nope, not here. Waltz right on in, scan the ticket's barcode, and I'm free. Now I'm starting to feel that tinge of "gee, I could have bought some kind of recorder," but she reassures me that it would be immoral and illegal, and that it's better I didn't. She doesn't know those two adjectives describe half my friends here regarding the acquisition of free music, but what's done is done, and what's not is not. At least I have my seven year old 3x optical point and shoot, to take pics of the Maestro, right? No, it's not really better than nothing these days.

Ok, so we find our seats. Not bad. Smack dab in the middle in the family circle, a few rows back from the edge. A bit more expensive than the first round of tix I had bought for November's cancelled show, but nowhere near the $150 seats I had begun to regret not buying. Knowing full well about the fiasco that struck Mr. Williams outside the Boston gig, I know realized the CD jacket of my DCC Raiders in a robust jewel case was sitting in my pants pocket for no reason -- I picked a shirt with no breast pocket, but the black on black ensemble looked so sharp with the Darth Vader tie. Amazing how many looks you get wearing such a tie on the street. At least the program featured the "set list," and I wouldn't have to scribble the pieces down on a piece of paper.

So the show begins, Mr. Williams walks out the door from stage left, and is instantly met with a standing ovation. Pictures look like crap, but it's John Williams! He's a hundred feet from me! It's...John Williams! I finally sit down, no words, and then it's into The Cowboys Overture.

What's this from?

It's a western with John Wayne, pretty early.

Well played piece. Now John speaks to the crowd about the reception, the screen drops, and they perform excerpts from Close Encounters. At this point, I'm wishing I hadn't just listened to the album in traffic, and that I could keep my eyes off the screen and actually watch the man I spent $150 to see (binoculars, next time). But it's a thrilling piece, as always.

Now he introduces a Suite from Harry Potter, and he actually admits that he doesn't know (remember?) if Hedwig the owl is a boy or girl. We all laugh, because of course it doesn't matter, but it's still funny. The suite, consisting of three distinct pieces, is played to clips from the film saga. I'm mildly amused that the clips include footage from GOF and OOTP, but I'm reminded that they serve to illustrate the title character's "wonderous world."

The first half concludes with "Adventures on Earth." Beautiful. Simply a joy to hear live in concert. A standing ovation, and it's time to check the score on my (yes, it's off) cell.

The second half begins with a dynamite medley of themes from famous films. Some Williams -- E.T., Star Wars, Jaws -- but most not, and the audience was thrilled and appreciative all the same.

Then he introduces a silent film reel TLC from River Phoenix escaping the cave until he falls out the bottom of the circus train. And John explained every single synch point that a film composer would have to consider when writing a score to fit the action. Really a treat to hear his perspective, and then listen as they're all played out live when the orchestra accompanies the second time around.

You yadda-yadda'd the best part.

Yea, speed this up.

Schindler's List, and Steven's joke about needing a better composer; Imperial March, Leia's Theme, Star Wars -- (or as I thought, Vader and his two kids' themes) -- then Memoirs, Raiders, and The Mission. He even explains the joke about how on a slow news day, NBC would play The Mission in its entirety, but for 19 years, they've never had a slow new day. Great music, great reception, standing O's galore, John makes the "beddy-bye" sign with his hands, and after two exhilarating hours, it's over.

They say take care of it before you leave, so we did. We get out on the street, and a crowd of people has formed outside the stage exit. I consider staying, when I see Indiana Jones' stunt double holding the book to FSM's Superman Blue Box, conversing with somebody about whether Mr. Williams would emerge. I also notice that people dressed as baseball fans are scurrying through the streets -- Pittsburgh wins 3-1, making the night even better -- so I say goodbye to the notion of getting an autograph, and head back to the garage.

No sooner have I gotten into my car, three blocks away, then the deluge starts. My car is on the top deck, but it's only a five story garage so it's quick to the bottom, and I've beaten the crowd. Just enough to see all the people return from the baseball game absolutely drenched. Awesome; I'm dry and ahead of all the traffic. I turn right out of the garage to go with traffic, instead of cutting across to go left, and this way will take me past Heinz Hall again. Indiana Jones is still standing outside the theater with some other people, so he obviously hasn't shown up yet. If I had stayed, I would be soaked and be further back in the traffic queue, so we head home.

So the fact that John Williams didn't stick around long enough after the show to make the evening more memorable, and was escorted to his car quickly, makes me happy that I did not decide to wait around outside the theater, because it would have been fruitless. I can understand how anyone would feel cheated that the $150 seats for an "appearance" by John Williams was so brief and impersonal, so I'm glad I wasn't suckered into paying that. I saw a great concert for an affordable price, the memories will last a lifetime, and I wish the man well in the future. Pittsburgh thanks you.

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That Boston incident happened on the 25th? I was at that show and outside afterwards and didn't notice anything. :blink:

On the 28th though, when I saw him before the show (which I regrettably couldn't attend :( ) to get my picture and LP signed, there were some people waiting across the street with the stacks of LPs people have reported. :rolleyes:

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi all, I just wanted to jump in real quick and say I loved the concert! It was my first concert since I was a kid but I've been wanting to go to a John Williams concert for ages so this was wonderful. I did not get reception tickets becuase the website made it sound like I'd have 5 seconds with him if I was lucky and with how shy I am I didn't think I could talk to him anyway ^^; but I do feel bad about what happens in Boston, yuck :( I had such a wonderful time, the orchestra was brilliant, Mr. Williams was amazing and I just loved being in such a big room filled with so many people who also love john Williams. I got to Heinz Hall early and waited for them to open the doors at 7 and loved to hear all the chatter of people much older or younger than I am so excited about the same concert. Best night of my summer :)

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