September 21, 2021 update on live performances and events at the NAC.

The Music of John Williams


Welcome back to the NAC Orchestra’s brand new Pops season! And what a superlative beginning we have for you.

I first heard John Williams’ music in 1977 at New York City’s Ziegfeld Theatre. It was Star Wars: A New Hope and it blew my mind… of course!

That thoroughly modern old-school renaissance of full orchestral scores in movies was a revolution when it hit the big screen, and John’s melodies are still the most memorable star of some very starry films. The legacy of great scores by  Korngold, Richard Strauss, Dvořák, Holst and Max Steiner can be sensed in his unique and original music, which has probably been heard by more people on the planet than any other composer.

Little did I realise then that I would meet and work with John many times. Years ago, I discovered a score of John’s (from the film Monsignor) and was greatly impressed by one scene in particular in which many plot points came crashing together in rather melodramatic fashion in a Roman cathedral. Instead of dialogue, the director Frank Perry wisely chose to have John write a marvelous piece of liturgical music. John called it “Gloria.” I was so enamoured of this composition, I reached out to John and asked if I might be able to perform it in Ottawa. He said it was not published but that he would be pleased to loan me his personal set of orchestral parts for performances in Ottawa that season. Several months later, during a PBS telecast, I thanked him for the loan and he sincerely asked me: “Did they like it?” Such is the modesty of a true genius.

Since then we’ve become good colleagues and friends, and he has entrusted me and the Indianapolis Symphony with the honour of playing through the pre-publication drafts of his music, which are then corrected, printed and made available for orchestras around the world to play in concert.

John is a quiet and focussed man, the consummate gentleman. And it is safe to say that he will remain the most celebrated composer of the 20th century.

Program: Music by John Williams

Main Title from Star Wars (1977)

“Superman March” from Superman (1978)

“The Flight to Neverland” from Hook (1991)

Excerpts from Artificial Intelligence: A.I. (2001)

“The Cowboys Overture” from The Cowboys (1972)

Theme from Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

“Devil’s Dance” from The Witches of Eastwick (1987)

“Raiders March” from Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)


Liberty Fanfare (1986)

Suite from Far and Away (1992)

Theme from Schindler’s List (1993) 
Yosuke Kawasaki, violin

“Hedwig’s Theme” from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)

“Harry’s Wondrous World” from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)

“Shark Theme” from Jaws (1975)

Main Theme from Jurassic Park (1993)

“Adventures on Earth” from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)