I wrote the program notes for last fall’s Los Angeles Philharmonic opening night concert and gala — “A John Williams Celebration,” as it was called, with Gustavo Dudamel conducting and Itzhak Perlman as violin soloist. It was a wonderful mix of John’s concert music (“Soundings,” written for the opening of Disney Hall), his film music (Schindler’s List, Catch Me If You Can, Star Wars, Jaws, Amistad, etc.) and his Olympic themes. I’m delighted that C Major, which has produced this 103-minute DVD and Blu-Ray of the evening, has chosen to include my notes, which include comments from both Williams and frequent collaborator George Lucas.
Classical KUSC’s Brian Lauritzen asked me to join him on stage at Disney Hall last night to help preview the L.A. Philharmonic concert that included Leonard Bernstein’s fabulous suite from On the Waterfront. We talked about the circumstances of Bernstein’s hiring and his remarkable grasp of writing dramatic music for film (his one and only attempt at it). James Gaffigan conducted, and it was a thrilling performance (the concert also included Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” and Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 3). Brushing up on my Waterfront lore (using the book chapter I wrote and the Criterion disc commentary I had done), I discovered that I had once written about this score for the Los Angeles Times! Here’s that piece.
Composer John Williams is being honored this week at the gala opening concert of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, so Classical KUSC has taken excerpts from my 2012 Williams radio special “American Journey” and incorporated them into this week’s Arts Alive program. In addition, I’ve written the program notes for the concert (including his Olympic Fanfare, “Soundings,” and pieces from Schindler’s List, The Adventures of Tintin, Catch Me If You Can and Star Wars).
The Philharmonic participated in the “Pacific Standard Time” initiative by doing three nights of film music, titled “The Hollywood Sound” and conducted by Thomas Wilkins. I did the pre-concert lectures, which involved briefing listeners on the composers (Korngold, Herrmann, North, Bernstein, Goldsmith, Williams) and the music they were about to hear. And on one night I joined Wilkins on stage to talk about the role of film composers as part of L.A.’s musical heritage.