John Williams is arguably the most influential score composer of our generation, being awarded five Academy Awards and grossing over 20 billion dollars worldwide with his films. It seems appropriate to commemorate the 84-year-old’s work while he has no sign of slowing down. This is what Opera North Orchestra did, along with conductor Stephen Bell, who worked with Williams before. BBC radio presenter Mark Forrest was there too, to narrate the occasion.
They opened with the 20th Century Fox theme, and then Christopher Reeve’s Superman theme: a brilliant start, illustrating a sense of accomplishment, which Williams clearly has. It’s important to note that after every single song the whole crowd applauded and cheered, due to the sheer talent being shown.
Next came Star Wars’ ‘Imperial March’ and the flying BMX scene from ET, the former evoking a sense of fear, feeling like Vader could emerge at any moment whilst the latter illustrated a true sense of adventure to the audience.
After returning from the interval, Forrest informed us on how you can win an Oscar with two notes, and the Jaws theme began; its eerie and scary feel came off so much better live. However, it seems the best was left for last, as Opera North’s children’s chorus came out to support their rendition of Home Alone’s ‘Somewhere In My Memory’, which was well and truly magic. It may only be October but it felt like Christmas as the children’s voices echoed around smoothly with the instruments.
After the Jurassic Park theme, the show was over, and the applause just showed how much this meant to everyone. Bell returns on stage and it’s only time for the theme to Star Wars; this was mind blowing, all the separate instruments rang on their own but in complete unison at the same time.
Overall it was a truly amazing experience; being able to see live scores that mean so much to so many people, and for the lights to surround the orchestra and everyone look on in awe, just shows how amazing John Williams’ music really is. The whole show evoked a certain feeling in me, one of nostalgia but also a new appreciation for film scores, and how they elevate the experience. The men and women of Opera North well and truly are John Williams’ Heroes.
Anthemic orchestrations of well loved film themes makes for a great gig.