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John Williams concert at the Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro

You might get some argument if you called John Williams the greatest film composer of all time.

Miklos Rozsa's fans would object. Partisans of Bernard Herrmann would snub you. And don't forget Elmer Bernstein or you might get shot up, pardner.

Max Steiner, Ennio Morricone ... there is a long list that the American Film Institute passes off as definitive, and, while it is true that Williams gets first place (for the fourth "Star Wars" film, surprisingly) he does not dominate the top of the list.

But if you call him the most popular film composer of all time, you'd have a hard time finding anyone to take the other side in the argument.

Certainly much of that popularity comes from his artistry: an extraordinary facility for heroic, easily recognizable themes; brilliant flourishes of brass; passages of tenderness and of tension; and a wonderful ear for orchestral arrangements.

Part of it, though, is sheer luck.

Williams, a five-time Oscar winner, couldn't have known, when he composed the score for the first "Star Wars," that it would become the blockbuster of science-fiction blockbusters, a film followed by two sequels and three prequels. He couldn't have known, when he was writing the Indiana Jones march for "Raiders of the Lost Ark," that it would be heard in film after film. His artistry is beyond question; his arrival at the pinnacle of his profession just when the sequel craze began to dominate Hollywood made him
the biggest film composer ever.

Audiences love his music, and at 8p.m. Saturday, the Golden State Pops Orchestra and artistic director Steven Allen Fox close their 2008-2009 concert series with "An Evening of John Williams Music," featuring selections from more than a half-dozen of his film scores.

The concert, at the Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro, will feature Williams' music for the "Star Wars" films and for the several incarnations that Indiana Jones has had over the years.

There will be music from the scores of the Harry Potter films, another series that has kept Williams' music before the public. And there will be selections from his work in individual films, such as Steven Spielberg's "Schindler's List," the adaptation of Frank McCourt's "Angela's Ashes," and the films "Cowboys" and "Hook."

It was that last film's soaring score that inspired Fox to become a composer and conductor, and its inclusion in Saturday's concert is in its way a tribute to a youthful inspiration.

This concert marks the end of the GSPO's season at the Warner Grand. The orchestra next will perform, as usual, in its annual Fourth of July concert at San Pedro's Cabrillo Beach, where it will play Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture."

The orchestra will open its 2009-2010 season Oct. 25 at the Warner Grand.

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