Update 8/20 11:45 PM:
legendary film composer John Williams returned to the Berkshires to lead the Boston Pops Orchestra in the annual Film Night at Tanglewood, one of the season’s most enduring and popular traditions. Actor Morgan Freeman joined the orchestra, narrating John Williams’s Suite from The Reivers, a 1969 movie based on the book of the same name by William Faulkner.
The Boston Pops kicked the evening off with “Hooray for Hollywood” as the orchestra performed classic film scores in sync with clips from their equally classic movies.
The first half of the performance included a salute to the Hollywood Western, including John Dunbar’s Theme from Dances with Wolves, the theme from How the West Was Won, and Williams’s own The Cowboys Overture.
During the second half of the program, John Williams and the Boston Pops were joined by frequent collaborator Gil Shaham in a program featuring film music arranged for violin and orchestra, including Gardel’s Por Una Cabeza (Tango from Scent of a Woman), three pieces from Schindler’s List, and excerpts from Fiddler on the Roof. The program closed with a performance of “Throne Room” and Finale from Star Wars.
Tanglewood’s film night brings the Hollywood Bowl to the Berkshires. It celebrates the subtle way music can manipulate the mood, enhance suspense, and draw out the tears. One of Hollywood’s greatest living composers is John Williams, and he has a long connection to the Berkshires. He is the greatest film composer who ever lived, up there with Prokofiev and his famous score to Eisenstein’s Alexander Nevsky. (Serge Prokofiev’s scores were done in the silent era when they didn’t have to compete with dialogue and a foley reel full of special effect sounds.)
Without doubt, the highlight of the program was Mr. Williams’s nostalgic evocation of early 20th-century America from the 1969 The Reivers, based on the book of the same name by William Faulkner, with special guest Morgan Freeman as narrator.
About Morgan FreemanBy any standard, Morgan Freeman has one of the three best voices in America. The other two are James Earl Jones and Sean Connery. He has had two indelible film roles: Hoke in Driving Miss Daisy and Red in The Shawshank Redemption, both of which won him Academy Award nominations.
Before he made the film of Driving Miss Daisy, he appeared in the play during its off-Broadway run. About playing the character Hoke, he said, “All these Southerners would come back wiping their eyes and talking about how nostalgic it made them feel. How their grandmother had a chauffeur just like that. I was like, ‘Damn it! I made these people nostalgic for the good ol’ days!’ But, then, I had some black friends see it, and they said, ‘Oh, my grandfather was exactly like that.’ So that made me feel okay.”
Along with The Reivers, Williams will lead the orchestra in a salute to the Hollywood Western, including John Dunbar’s Theme from Dances with Wolves, the theme from How the West Was Won, and Williams’s own The Cowboys Overture.
The Pops could spend a week just performing the many scores Williams has written for films. Everyone knows his key role in the Star Wars saga. Williams has also composed music for Jaws, Superman, the Indiana Jones films, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Hook, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, Home Alone and the first three Harry Potter films.
He has composed the music for all but two of director Steven Spielberg’s feature films.
Other notable works by Williams include theme music for four Olympic Games, the NBC Nightly News, the rededication of the Statue of Liberty, the DreamWorks Pictures production logo, and the television series Lost in Space.
Williams has also composed numerous classical concerti, and he served as the principal conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra from 1980 to 1993; and now serves as the orchestra’s conductor laureate.
Williams has won five Academy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, seven BAFTA Awards, and 21 Grammy Awards. With 45 Academy Award nominations, Williams is, together with composer Alfred Newman, the second most nominated person, after Walt Disney.