The Music of John Williams has a Close Encounter at the HSO

screen-shot-2017-01-26-at-3-19-04-pmThis week, we’re thrilled to feature a guest post from our friend Curtis Lindsay of the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra!  Not only are they hosting the Music of John Williams in concert next weekend, we’re also proud to announce that Geek Out Huntsville will be presenting a Trivia and Costume Contest at the show as well!

If you are dressing up as your favorite character from a movie that features John Williams music, please make your way to the second floor no later than 7:05PM so we can judge your costume. The top three will be brought out on stage during intermission for some great local prizes!

If you would like to participate in the Trivia Contest, be sure to make your way to your seat in the Concert Hall early after doors open. We will be featuring a pre-roll movie that will include trivia from your favorite John Williams movies. Tweet your answers to the questions with the hashtag #HSOGeekOut and we will have prizes for the winners during intermission!


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The Huntsville Symphony Orchestra office is usually a pretty quiet place. Right now, though, it’s buzzing and bubbling with energy as we prepare for our busiest week of the year coming up in the first few days of February.

We’re getting ready for our Young Peoples’ and FREE Family Concerts—the centerpiece of those performances will be Compose Yourself!, James Stephensons’ interactive introduction to the orchestra for young people. We expect around 5,000 people of all ages in the Mark C. Smith Concert Hall at the VBC across three mornings of concerts, and we think it’s awesome that many of them will be experiencing a symphony orchestra for the very first time.

The whole week is about our relationship with the Huntsville community, which is why we are beyond stoked to close out the weekend with a sold-out Pops performance. The Music of John Williams: Soundtrack to a Generation happens at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 4.

john_williams_tribute_by_onenine72-d5dzg6qGregory Vajda will conduct the full forces of the HSO in John Williams’ most famous film score numbers, including selections from Star Wars, Harry Potter, Superman, E.T., and other classics.

We can’t take full credit for the idea, as it was handed to us on a silver platter: last season we polled our Pops audiences to find out what programming they were most interested in hearing. A night of great film music played by the city’s own orchestra was the clear favorite—so we got to work on it immediately.

When I decided to subtitle the concert Soundtrack of a Generation, I was thinking of ‘80s kids like me who grew up hearing John Williams’ wildly popular film scores in alternation with the tuneful bleeps and bloops of early gaming consoles hooked up to rabbit-eared TV sets in darkened living rooms.

In the early glory days of video games and electronic music, Williams chose to work with the traditional classical orchestra. In his scoring, he built upon the legacies of old movie maestros like Bernard Hermann (Psycho, Citizen Kane, Taxi Driver) and Maurice Jarre (Doctor Zhivago, Lawrence of Arabia, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome), but he brought to the art form a fresh sense of immediacy and a direct, earnest, and accessible musical style.

Williams’ music has been so successful because of his genius for storytelling through the score. His music is much more than scenery: his themes actively partner with individual characters, and add energy and emotion to their struggles and triumphs. It’s hard to think of a Spielberg film like Jaws or Close Encounters of the Third Kind without also instantly calling the musical theme to mind.

This concert will be as much fun for the musicians as for the audience. It’s challenging music for the players—I’m putting in hours of practice at the piano in preparation—but it’s also deeply rewarding.

No one is more excited than Gregory Vajda, HSO Music Director & Conductor. “The music of John Williams bridges the gap between centuries of classical art and generations of movie goers. I myself, as a kid, discovered much of the great music of the past through the the work of living composers and pop musicians,” he says. “Any soundtrack by Williams is a perfect tool to help you get immersed in the story of the movie you are watching. It also enables you to experience what it is like to be part of the creation of a universal world of imagination. Have you wondered what it felt like to be there for the very first performance of Richard Wagner’s famous Ring Cycle? Watch a movie with a John Williams score and you’ll know. Music is the unbroken link between past and present. Music is the perfect time machine.”

The HSO is delighted to be partnering with stellar organizations like Geek Out Huntsville, the North Alabama Cosplayers Club, and the 501st Legion to add an extra dimension to the concert experience. Patrons can dress up as their favorite movie characters, and enter Geek Out Huntsville’s audience costume contest in the lobby. They can grab some popcorn and find their seats early to test their knowledge of movie trivia before the concert begins. They’ll even see familiar characters appearing here and there throughout the show, as if summoned from the silver screen into real life by the magic of this fantastic music.

To make a singular event like this possible requires both the support of an audience, and generous sponsorship from the community. The Music of John Williams is part of the S3, Inc. Pops Series, and the concert is sponsored by one of the HSO’s most enthusiastic benefactors, former Mayor of Huntsville Loretta Spencer, who tells us there are several big fans of John Williams in her family.

It’s the perfect finale to a Pops Series of which we’re particularly proud – but the HSO will geek out once again on May 6, when we bring the award-winning Video Games Live! multimedia show to Huntsville. If you like a good boss fight, then you’ll love experiencing it with the added flair and power of a real, live orchestra!

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