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Those attending the Plano Symphony Saturday night knew something was different the minute they arrived in the lobby. In addition to the normal crowd of music lovers, ushers and ticket takers, they were greeted by storm troopers, a princess and even a wookie. Yes, it was time for a tribute to the music of John Williams.
The incredible composer i
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s responsible for some of the most memorable movie music in history. From “Star Wars” to “Saving Private Ryan,” the marriage of incredible films and incredible soundtracks is simply amazing. Combine that with the Plano Symphony Orchestra, aided at times by the Plano Civic Chorus, and it made for an unforgettable evening.
Maestro Hector Guzman set the tone for a fun evening by walking on stage wearing a cowboy hat, to coincide with the theme from “The Cowboys,” one of the few John Wayne classics in which the good guy dies. It was the first of many stage props, used to match the movies that would be brought to life through Williams’ music. Hearing this western theme made me ready to hop on a horse and ride across the prairie.
The musicians were spot on with the music. As Guzman explained, they played not adaptations, but the actual movie scores. To me, the true test of their success was their ability to create not only the sounds, but to also bring the scenes of the movies to life in my mind. I was able to close my eyes and ride the Hogwarts Express during “Harry Potter;” fly faster than a speeding bullet with “Superman;” and wield my light saber during “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.”
Perhaps my favorite part of the evening was when the orchestra played the first two ominous notes from “Jaws.” Many of the audience members laughed, but it was a nervous laughter. I even looked down, just to make sure I did not see a dorsal fin circling my feet.
The first act was filled with adventure, including the Raiders March from “Indiana Jones.” The second set contained songs from more of the adventure-fantasy films – such as “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “Jurassic Park” – it also included works from some of the more serious movies. The military sound of the drums from “Saving Private Ryan” brought the pride people often feel with the military. It was quiet, simple and reverent. And the absolutely incredible violin of Concertmaster Vesselin Demirev had audience members near tears during “Schindler’s List.”
To conclude this emotional roller coaster, Guzman chose the music from “ET, the Extra Terrestrial.” I believe anyone familiar with the film could see the silhouetted figure of ET riding his bicycle in front of the moon.
Williams’ resume is incredibly long. From his time as conductor of the Boston Pops, to his “Schindler’s List” dual Oscar and Grammy awards, he is one of the most prolific musical creators in history.
During the evening, Guzman pointed out a very important element of Williams’ success: his music’s popularity spans across several generations. Everyone loves his scores. I could see it even in the smiles of the musicians: they were having fun. It was as close to a perfect evening as possible. As Guzman said at one point, “this is a unique canvas for music.”
For more information on the Plano Symphony, visit www.planosymphony.org.
Posted by: Sam Moore
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