By Robert D. Thomas
Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily News
This article was first published today in the Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily News.
Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra; John Williams, conductor
Fri., Aug. 29 and Sat., Aug. 30; 8:30 p.m.
Hollywood Bowl Orchestra; David Newman, conductor
Sun., Sept. 1; 7:30 p.m.
Hollywood Bowl; 2301 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood
Information: 323/850-2000; www.hollywoodbowl.com
Have you ever watched a motion picture without musical accompaniment? Could you? Of course not. From the earliest days of films, music has been an indispensable of movie making and that's the premise of next weekend's programs at Hollywood Bowl.
Friday and Saturday nights, legendary film composer John Williams makes his 30th visit to the Cahuenga Pass amphitheatre for a program of his own music, along with a tribute to the great MGM musicals of the 1930s, '40s and '50s. Sunday evening, composer David Newman leads the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra accompanying film clips from some of the great Warner Brothers movies from that company's 85-year-history.
The 76-year-old Williams, who has won five Academy Awards, three Golden Globes and 17 Grammy awards for his movie scores, will open his program with three works he wrote for the Olympic Games, one of which will accompany a short film (and you thought we'd finished with the Olympics!). He'll also lead excerpts of his own music for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Hook, Indiana Jones, and Sabrina.
The evenings will conclude with a tribute to George Lucas (with accompanying images) that will include snippets from Jaws, Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. Except to see lots of light sabers in the audience.
As he has done in recent years, Williams will showcase music from Hollywood's "Golden Age," in this case, the movies of director/choreographer Stanley Donen (the 84-year-old director is scheduled to be in attendance). The tribute, with images projected on the Bowl's large screens, will feature selections from Royal Wedding, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, It's Always Fair Weather, Anchors Aweigh, and Donen's most famous picture, Singin' In the Rain.
Sunday's Warner Bros. retrospective appears, on paper, to be an interesting mélange of music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Max Steiner and others who achieved movie music stardom at the studio. Movies and music ranging from Casablanca to The Dark Knight will also be on the evening's agenda with images again projected on the Bowl's large video screens. Even Williams shows up on the program; although he hasn't scored many WB films, the exceprt Quidditch, from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, is among the scenes tentatively listed.
In both programs, part of the fun is watching how well Williams and Newman will work to synchronize the music to the images being shown. It's something they've done all their lives but to those of us not in the business, it remains both an artistic and technological marvel.
There's also some irony in the fact that David Newman will be conducting Sunday's Warner Bros tribute. His father, Alfred, spent his career at 20th Century Fox, and with 45 Academy Award nominations is tied with Williams for second place on the all-time Oscar nomination list (behind only Walt Disney's 59 nominations).
(c) Copyright 2008, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.