June 2024

Santa Cruz Symphony Goes to the Movies

The last concert of the Santa Cruz Symphony season offers more than simply an orchestral tribute to movie maestro John Williams. Join the street party before the concert, from 5pm-7:30pm in front of the Civic Auditorium. There will be food trucks, music, dancing and a costume contest for those who dress in character for the featured movies – Star Wars, Harry Potter, and others. It’s all a love fest for legendary composer John Williams, a man who has created memorable soundtracks for more than five decades. Star Wars! You can already hear it. Indiana Jones, you’re singing along. Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, and the immortal duh duh, duh duh, duh duh of Jaws.

Many in Hollywood are convinced that Steven Spielberg couldn’t have made a movie without a score by the tireless Williams, whose music formed the background for Summer Olympics, NBC News, and any number of top TV shows. It’s no exaggeration to say that billions, with a B, of folks from all over the world have heard and loved his music.

Williams—with 24 Grammies, seven BAFTAs, five Oscars, and four Golden Globes under his belt—knows how to arouse film-lovers’ emotions. The musical colors and textures of his compositions reinforce the beauty, danger, excitement, and resolution of the imagery that accompanies his music.

At its best, his scores seem to make romance with the very structure of the film’s narrative, as if they had been created together in one seamless act of inspiration. Like Richard Wagner, Williams is a master at creating musical motifs—themes—for the main dramatic characters in the films, for example Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker, Jaws the shark, and Obi-Wan Kenobi.

The Santa Cruz Symphony concludes its 2023-24 season on a high note with this gala tribute to the spectacular orchestral scores John Williams has created for such films as—Raiders of the Lost Ark, ET, The Poseidon Adventure, The Eiger Sanction, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Lincoln, and the list goes on! Williams, who has been nominated 54 times for an Academy Award, is not only a passionate neo-romantic composer, but an equally passionate supporter of music education and has worked tirelessly to raise funds for educational causes. So the upcoming Pops Concert on June 8 is a celebration honoring Williams’ role in musical history, as well as supporting musicians and inspiring many generations of movie viewers. Enjoy guest conductor Mary Rose Mackenzie conducting “Stars and Stripes Forever” at the end of the first half.

This should prove to be a memorable climax to an ambitious season for the Santa Cruz Symphony. The range of concert material has been ambitious. Opening in September with Richard Strauss, the Symphony’s October program included highlights from Mozart, Beethoven, Verdi, and Bizet. In January Mahler and Ravel were joined by contemporary Korean work. The March Festivals concerts featured the work of Schumann and Stravinsky. And who could forget the monumental Mass in B Minor by Bach, joined by the Cabrillo Symphonic Chorus.

The season finale features music from many of Williams’ top cinema themes, including selections from ET, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, and lots more!

Join the Santa Cruz Symphony and the John Williams Spectacular at the Symphony Pops Concert, Saturday, June 8. Tickets: santacruzboxoffice.com $40-110. Student rush 60 minutes before showtime, $15 with student ID.

By Christina Waters

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