Sunday, September 16, 2007

What do Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter and Indiana Jones all have in common?

John Williams, of course! The three of us went to a concert by the New York Philharmonic last night, conducted by the man himself: You're not going to believe this, but he has been nominated for 44--yes, 44--Oscars! Many times he has competed with himself! He's won "only" 5: for Schindler's List, Star Wars, E.T., Jaws, and Fiddler on the Roof (for an adapation he performed last night).

It was a wonderful evening--better than we expected, by far. The highlights were definitely the Harry Potter music, particularly the famous "Hedwig's Theme," as well as his tribute to his collaboration with Spielberg. It was a lot of fun to watch him conduct the orchestra as they played the Star Wars music and, of course, Jaws, E.T., and Indiana Jones.

One of the best parts of the show, however, was an appearance by Stanley Donen. To be honest, Jeff and I thought he was already deceased! But not only is he alive and well, he's funny as all get-outs. He directed many, many famous movies and described how he put together several of the most famous dance sequences ever on screen: Royal Wedding (Fred Astaire dancing on the walls and the ceiling), Anchors Aweigh (Gene Kelly dancing with Jerry the mouse), It's Always Fair Weather (Gene Kelly literally dances on roller skates - this clip is amazing), and of course, the most famous one of all from Singin' in the Rain (watch the famous clip).

The orchestra then played the music live, while the audience watched the dance scenes on a big screen. It was wonderful! And Donen's comments were absolutely delightful.

Williams did a couple of encores, including some of his score for Spielberg's first film, Sugarland Express, and he concluded by playing the entire theme song for The NBC Nightly News. You would recognize it immediately. They play it on the Today show, too. Here's a bootlegged clip of it on YouTube: (I have to say, the NY Phil sounded better than the Boston Pops, whom I love dearly. --Mary)

It's not often you can be in the presence of a genius. He has a way of capturing the essence of a story that is truly magical, to borrow a word Rachel used last night during the performance.

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