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Written by HF605
Published on February 5, 2004

John Williams conducts Movie Music Classics
- November 28th, 2003
Symphony Center, Chicago

The night started well when we entered the concert hall just off of Michigan Ave. in down town Chicago. The seats were a bit close together but our seats were a bit to the right in the balcony. With these seats we had a great view of the orchestra.

I have to be honest I was a bit apprehensive of the whole deal. I mean I love John Williams music, most of you that have seen my CD collection can attest to that, but I was afraid that this wouldn't live up to the CD's I had grown to love. Would it sound the same? I knew it was a different orchestra than the London Symphony Orchestra and that it would have it's own sound and style. Would this pervert all that was sacred to my ears? I was about to find out.

Williams came on stage after the orchestra had made their way to their seats. Everyone applauded in due fashion. Williams took a few bows then stepped up to his podium. He held up his wand and what followed destroyed any apprehension that I had about the concert.

The first note of the Star Wars theme exploded from the orchestra. Most of the time when a person goes to a rock concert, even a country music concert, the sound quality is sub par. It's more exciting to see the person live and get the gist of a song from the amps that are turned up to 11. With in the first five notes of Star Wars, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra produced the truest, sharpest, most accurate sound of music I have ever heard. I was able to pick out every instrument, every element of sound that made up the whole of the symphony. I was actually embarrassed to say I had only heard the music on CD. This completely blew any CD I've ever heard out of the water. I don't care how hard Bose tries; they will never achieve the clarity and the exquisitely sharp sound that these people created. I had goose bumps.

So Williams finishes the Star Wars theme with amazing crescendo and turns around to bow. The room turns into a sea of heartfelt applause because we all know we have just experienced the music instead of merely listening to it. Williams then takes us to Leah's Theme. A nice melody found mostly in Empire. To finish off the suite that is Star Wars, Williams gives us the Imperial March. Once again the sound is great. I know I keep mentioning the sound quality but it was just that unbelievable. The March was thunderous and militant in every way it should be, and it was a fine conclusion to the Star Wars suite.

Next up was Harry Potter. I'm not the biggest fan of this soundtrack, I do like it, I am familiar with it but I haven't bought it. He did something interesting with the orchestra using the Potter soundtrack. Each section of the orchestra plays a different song off of the soundtrack. An example is the French horns played the theme to Hogwarts. This gives a reference point of how good each section is and what they do to make the orchestra a whole. Very interesting and very entertaining.


We return to our seats from intermission for the song I was most looking forward to. With a wave of his wand, Williams started the cellos and the trombones on the steady beat of the Raiders March. Goose pumps permeated my arms and back as the wave of Indy washed over my senses. Man, was it great. The guy next to me started humming the theme and I nearly killed him. How dare he ruin my enjoyment of such fine music. He stopped shortly and all was well for the rest of the song.

The program followed with the themes to Jaws, Schindler's List, the love theme to Star Wars: Episode II, the flight theme to Hook, and the finale to E.T. This was all good but I noticed a glaring omission. Where was the theme to Superman?

Once the last notes to E.T. were finished everyone started clapping and commenced a standing ovation. It was heartfelt and genuine. Williams left and at the delight of many in attendance, he came back out and told the audience that he would play Yoda's Theme. As soon as he stepped back out on stage I was hoping for Superman but didn't get it. Yoda's Theme played out well and was fun to listen to.

With the completion of Yoda's Theme, the crowd was once again a flurry of clapping. Williams turned to face us, shrugged and the trumpeters belted out the first few notes to Superman. The audience exploded into cheers like you would expect at a rock concert not at an orchestra. I looked over to my girlfriend and in a sigh of relief said, "Thank you." I actually discovered I enjoyed Superman more than the Raiders March. It capped the evening so well and was the song that completed the list of music I wanted to hear live.

Williams finished the evening with the NBC News mission theme. This was something I had forgotten he wade composed and it was great. I didn't know news music could entertain so well. After the final note was played the audience gave Williams his forth standing ovation. He looked down at his music and flipped through to show he was out of music to play. He bowed and we could read the "thank you" off of his lips. With that the evening came to a close.

I am so glad I was able to see this. I can hardly describe how great it was. This was the music to the heroes I had grown up with all my life and to hear it presented in such a rich fashion was nearly more than I could handle. I hope to experience this again some day. Please make sure that if you get a chance to see John Williams in concert that you take full advantage of it. You will not be disappointed. If I had to rate this it would easily be a 15 out of 10. It went beyond all expectations. It will be something that I will never forget and will always cherish.

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