Skip to main content

John Williams takes colorful detour

John Williams congratulates violist Cathy Basrak following her performance of the world premiere of Williams' Concerto for viola and orchestra with the Boston Pops. At the timpani, Basrak's husband Tim Genis applauds for his wife.

John Williams congratulates violist Cathy Basrak following her performance of the world premiere of Williams' Concerto for viola and orchestra with the Boston Pops. At the timpani, Basrak's husband Tim Genis applauds for his wife. (Michael J. Lutch)

The music of composer John Williams resembles the filmography of Tom Hanks, full of drama and Oscar-ready uplift. They've both been around long enough, and done enough movies, that you pretty much know what you're going to get from them, whether it's an alien adventure or a World War II ordeal.

But Williams surprised with his world premiere Concerto for Viola and Orchestra last night. Not a soundtrack but a musical gift to Pops principal violist Cathy Basrak, it was a challenging piece quite unlike his familiar big-screen emotional narratives.

The first movement offered Basrak taxing, unaccompanied passages all over the strings, with little bursts that touched on dissonance and long, still notes that hung in the air. In short, a showpiece.

The second movement featured Basrak trading phrases in a duel with her husband, principal timpanist Timothy Genis, which led Williams to dub the movement the "Family Argument" and drew chuckles from the audience. The third movement brought in principal harpist Ann Hobson Pilot to pluck the strings behind Basrak in a dreamy sequence.

The rest of the night featured movie music, mostly by Williams, of varying interest. The opening "Hooray for Hollywood" got a smart reading by Williams and the orchestra that found touches of Copland-esque subtlety in that well-worn melody. And Williams's Suite from Jane Eyre gave the strings a chance to shine, especially in the second movement, when the conductor emeritus held up a finger to the violins to keep them sawing away while he leaned in the other direction to give close attention to the cellos. On the other hand, Korngold's March from The Adventures of Robin Hood felt like a trailer for emotions we'd be having later.

Deadline forced our exit before the final set, featuring music from "Superman," "Far and Away," and more. I can't say I looked forward to that as much as our press table neighbors David and Sylvain did. The movie-music aficionados came from France to attend two Film Night programs this week. Still, it was hard not to wish that Williams would write more works like the concerto.


Popular posts from this blog

Did Paul Freeman Accidentally Eat A Fly In Raiders of the Lost Ark?

The Famous Indiana Jones Fly In Belloq's Mouth Scene.  Did It Really Happen? I've always wondered if Paul Freeman unintentionally consumed a fly in this scene in  Raiders of the Lost Ark ?  It's the scene where Indiana Jones shouts down to Bellosh...I mean Belloq and threatens to blow up the ark.  Did a fly go in his mouth? I remember watching this scene back in the early eighties and my ten year old mind thought he definitely had a snack while filming.  I recall talking about 'flygate' in my school playground at the time and the general consensus with my friends was that Freeman definitely had a sneaky snack. Paul Freeman talks about the famous 'fly' scene in an interview with  and settled 'flygate:' This is a bit of a dicey question so don’t get too upset. (Laughs) A movie’s always got bloopers in it, some have a lot, and some only have three or four. And the most remarkable blooper was right before the opening of th

Star Wars VII Movie Poster - Every End Is A New Beginning

Star Wars VII Movie Poster Just saw this Star Wars VII movie poster on Kyle Newman's Facebook fee d.  The poster is by  Lyndon Berresford and Paul Bateman.  I am loving this.  Who do you think the two characters are?  Lando and Leia?  Han and Leia's children? Have you seen other Star Wars VII movie posters?  Let me know. Rob Wainfur @welshslider

Pinewood Studios To Expand To The Usa

BBC News have reported that Pinewood Studios are to expand to the USA.  This is great news for the famous studio that is rich in movie history. UK film studio Pinewood Shepperton has announced plans to build its first sound stages in the United States. The Pinewood Atlanta complex will be built on 288 acres of land south of Atlanta, Georgia, as a joint venture with a US investment company. Georgia has been among the US states drawing film-making away from Hollywood with tax incentives in recent years. The deal is the latest sign of expansion at Pinewood, the home of the James Bond franchise. Earlier this month it announced a joint venture with a Chinese media group, potentially giving it access to the fast-growing Chinese market. Read the full article here. THE BEARDED TRIO ON FACEBOOK THE BEARDED TRIO ON TWITTER THE BEARDED TRIO ON GOOGLE+