Let me begin this review by saying that this is the first time in my life that I have ever attended a live film music concert, and it did not disappoint.  There was some mild concern however, when on the way to the Hollywood Bowl, we encountered an unexpected downpour of rain.  Imagine it, here it is, the BIG DAY that I had been planning for over 6 months, it’s been over 100F (37.8C) all weekend long, not a cloud in the sky, and then out of nowhere, a torrential downpour of rain.  I was not amused, nor were the throngs of people trying to take shelter from the rain in every available dry nook and cranny.

 

In full Kylo Ren mode, getting ready to head out to the Hollywood Bowl to see John Williams

Fortunately, it was a short downpour that lasted only about 15 minutes, which left plenty of time to locate our seats.  My sister and I had seats that were not together, with two lovely ladies sitting between us, who were ever so gracious to switch seats with us so we could sit together.

 

I of course, being the birthday boy, decided to attend the concert in full Kylo Ren mode.  While waiting for the concert to start, I walked around the venue for a short period of time, looking to see if anyone else had bothered to dress up for the occasion.  While I was the only adult I saw dressed for the occasion, I did see a young girl dressed up as Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  I also had multiple event staff mention to me that I was the only person they had seen during the concert series dressed up for the occasion, which of course made me feel all the more special!

 

Never in my life have I experienced a more magical moment in time (up to this point) as I did when David Newman made the first grand swooping gesture with his conducting baton that started the concert.

 

Beginning with the selection March of the Merry Men from The Adventures of Robin Hood, composed by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, I was immediately swept away by the music and sounds of the LA Phil, and the commanding presence of Mr. Newman.  Continuing on with Night Journeys (from 1979’s Dracula), various excerpts from Dr. ZhivagoCathy’s Theme (from Wuthering Heights) and culminating with the legendary Judy Garland performing Born in a Trunk (from 1954’s A Star is Born) on the big screen to the majestic sounds coming from the stage, I had no idea the wonder and glory that awaited me after the intermission.

 

After The Intermission

 

After the intermission, it was time.  I had been waiting for this moment for well over six months.  The man himself, John Williams was about to take the stage.  Needless to say, as Mr. Williams strolled out onto the stage, the entire venue went wild, and I was no exception!  I could not contain my excitement.

 

Beginning with The Adventures of Mutt from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I was mesmerized.  I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat, paying attention more than I have ever paid attention to anything.  Having not seen this particular film, this was actually a new Williams piece for me.

 

In honor of the 40th anniversary of it’s release, he next conducted some excerpts from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  This was a real treat for me, as Close Encounters was among my favorite movies as a kid.  Having been released a year before I was born, this was the first film score that I remember being introduced to that stuck with me over the years, and I am able to recognize it when it plays.

 

Next up in the program, we had three selections from the Harry Potter series of films.  First in the series was The Chamber of Secrets, followed by Aunt Marge’s Waltz from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  This selection is probably my second favorite selection from the Harry Potter films due to absurdity of the accompanying scene.  Mr. Williams use of the french horn to emphasize Aunt Marge inflating and floating around and out of the house is just perfect, and overall makes a fun addition to the scene.

 

The third selection from the Harry Potter films, from both Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, was Harry’s Wondrous World.  Probably the most recognizable of the Harry Potter film music, this was a nice sweeping piece of orchestration that was the perfect way to transition to the next surprise.

 

Little did we know that we were in for an additional treat, as there was a special guest who was going to be narrating the next selection.  The special guest was none other than Kobe Bryant.  Set to music composed by Mr. Williams, and stunningly drawn to life by veteran animation director Glen Keane, Dear Basketball is a short animated telling of Kobe Bryant’s poem announcing his retirement from the NBA.

 

The last three selections in the main program, and to me, the most important pieces of Mr. Williams work came from where else but the Star Wars films.  I find that it was very fitting that the first two performances from this set were from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, considering I had shown up cosplaying as Kylo Ren.  Needless to say, as soon as the orchestra began the first notes from Scherzo for X-Wings, the entire venue lit up with more lightsabers than I have ever seen in one location.

 

Continuing with another selection from The Force Awakens, we had Rey’s Theme.  Again, a wonderfully done piece of film music, and I know there was at least one person in the audience who was cosplaying Rey’s character.
The last piece in this set was Star Wars: Main Title from Star Wars: A New Hope. Easily the most recognizable of Mr. Williams numerous scores, with the fanfare that he is well known for, this is a score that is enjoyable for kids of all ages (adult kids too!).

 

Needless to say, at the end of the performance, the entire venue was going wild.  We gave Mr. Williams and the LA Phil a huge standing ovation that easily lasted over five minutes.  The audience, and myself were absolutely thrilled when Mr. Williams came out to conduct an encore performance.  Not only were we treated to one encore performance, we were treated to four of them!  The encore performances were Theme from Sabrina, The Imperial March (lightsabers and all), Superman March, and Flying, from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

 

Despite some minor setbacks, such as not having enough memory to get any decent video clips or photos, this was a birthday concert that will stay with me for the rest of my life.  I am thankful to everyone who helped make this birthday happen, from my sister, Andrea, who came with me for the weekend, to Mr. Newman, Mr. Williams, Mr. Bryant, and the entire L.A. Philharmonic, to the staff and crew at the Hollywood Bowl, and to the many friends who were supportive of me taking this trip.  This was a trial run leading up to the big StreamingSoundtracks.com Chicago meetup where we will be seeing Mr. Williams perform again on April 26, 2018, and it is going to be AWESOME!

 

A very special thank you to the following Youtube users: MovieManChad, sofhstressEyezOnJim68, David AngThomas Petroff JrLaurine Price, and timaustinw, for allowing me the use of the video footage they were able to take during this concert, and giving me permission to use them in this review.  Please check out the videos below, and make sure to send thanks to the above mentioned folks for the use of their content.

Video Highlights

 

Video Highlights from John Williams: Maestro of Music – September 2, 2017.  Youtube video courtesy of MovieManCHAD.

 

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.  Youtube video courtesy of EyezOnJim68.

 

Dear Basketball – John Williams conducting, narrated by Kobe Bryant. Youtube video courtesy of rozehead.

 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Scherzo for X-Wings.  Youtube video courtesy of EyezOnJim68.

 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Rey’s Theme.  Youtube video courtesy of EyezOnJim68.

 

Star Wars: A New Hope – Main Title.  Youtube video courtesy of David Ang.

Encore Performances:

Sabrina (1995).  Youtube video courtesy of Thomas Petroff Jr.

 

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back – Imperial March.  Youtube video courtesy of Laurine Price.
 
 

Superman – Superman March.  Youtube video courtesy of Laurine Price.

 

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial – Flying.  Youtube video courtesy of Laurine Price.

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