Roll over, Beethoven. On Saturday, the most popular living composer of orchestral music gave the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra its first Symphony Hall sellout since 2016.
John Williams, still working at 91, is the composer whose work made such a splash that it secured the primacy of the symphony orchestra in film scores for generations. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas came out of an experimental-minded generation of filmmakers, but starting in the 1970s they decided to reach back to the breathless screen adventures of their youth. In so doing, they defined the summer blockbuster.
Williams was their most crucial collaborator, producing iconic themes that evoked the sweep and grandeur the directors were reaching for. The pivotal nature of his work is all the more obvious decades on, after successive waves of sequels and reboots. You might be watching an overstuffed "Jurassic World" movie or side-eyeing an ad for a Harry Potter video game launched amid controversy, but as soon as you hear the "Jurassic Park" theme or the tinkle of "Hedwig's Theme" on the celesta, your heart remembers why you first fell in love with those franchises.
DSSO music director Dirk Meyer conducted the program, which found the orchestra in strong form and featured opportunities for several individual members to demonstrate their considerable talents as featured players. Any John Williams concert is going to require yeoman work from the brass section in particular, and I hope the horn players all got to spend Sunday zonked out on their respective couche
Saturday's program began, aptly, with the march from "Superman." Richard Donner's 1978 feature doesn't have the searing intensity of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy or the multiverse-spanning ambition of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it has Christopher Reve, Margot Kidder, a glowing Marlon Brando and composer John Williams. In this age of infinite comic book movies, has anyone ever written a better superhero theme?
To read the full review, visit Jay Gabler’s article for the Duluth News Tribune:
Front Row Seat: John Williams tribute becomes DSSO’s first sellout in 7 years