If It Sounds Good, It Is Good! | October 2017
Five words sum up what we're all feeling this month: There's No Place Like Home. Music Hall has received all the loving attention she needed and deserves and has never looked or sounded better.
Knowing that this would be the first Pops concert in the newly renovated Springer Auditorium, we wanted to show off the incredible acoustics of this space. What better way to experience the full gamut of orchestral sounds than with a program of John Williams' greatest hits? John Williams continues to be a great friend of the Cincinnati Pops, and for the occasion of the Grand Opening of Music Hall, he has given us not one but TWO world premieres to perform. The first is an achingly poignant arrangement of the theme from Schindler's List for solo cello and orchestra. We all know the incredible violin version performed so beautifully by Itzhak Perlman for the film, but out own principal cellist Ilya Finkelshteyn will be the first to perform this gorgeous new setting. Many believe, as I do, that the cello is the instrument closest to the human voice - its range matches the highest soprano voice to the lowest bas. It is this distinct and soulful human sound that gives this new arrangement such depth and profundity.
The other premiere for this concert is music from American Journey, a film by Cincinnati native Steven Spielberg, commissioned by President Bill Clinton to celebrate the new millennium. Spielberg of course tapped his frequent collaborator John Williams to compose music for the film, and has offered his new concert adaptation to the Pops before its publication.
The dream team of Williams and Spielberg have managed to create a trove of cinematic masterworks that have inspired three generations with action-packed excitement, white-knuckled suspense, heartfelt drama, and tender emotion through music. Much of the music on this program represents this unique artistic synergy, including the themes from E.T. (The Extra Terrestrial), Jurassic Park, and Indiana Jones. We will also be performing the Cincinnati premiere of the music from their most recent colalboration, The BFG ("Big Friendly Giant"), that is a virtuosic showpiece for our woodwind section.
The entire second half of our program is dedicated to the most beloved epic adventure of our time: Star Wars. Seven (soon to be eight) of these films have been defined by the musical voice of John Williams. Our concert program walks through the Skywalker saga in chronological order, starting with the first prequel, The Phantom Menace. During the course of these films, and much of our concert, John Williams musically defines a complex tapestry of emotions and dramatic themes, a small army of characters, and hundreds of scenes, from the overt opulence of Galactic Republic celebrations, to the most intimate romantic moments between Padme and Anakin, or Han and Leia.
In his heart of hearts, John Williams is a "jazzer". When talking with him casually, jazz lingo slips in and out of conversation like the Millenium Falcon zipping between solar systems. One of my personal favorite Star Wars musical moments is the "Cantina Band" from A New Hope. The moment when Luke and Obi-Wan walk into a galactic bar full of the wildest collection of aliens in the most shapes and sizes we could ever imagine, we realize that jazz still rules in a galaxy far, far away.
Welcome to our new grand adventure at Music Hall, where we all look forward to sharing great music together for generations to come. Let's get this party rolling!