Sunday, November 10, 2019


Seattle Symphony

The Movie Music of John Williams

Benaroya Hall
Seattle, WA


They got me. The Seattle Symphony, conductor Lawrence Loh, the powers that be in charge of the program for these shows - they got me.

I looked at the program online a few days prior to the performance. I was very pleased with the selections I saw but one piece was missing, glaringly so. I should of known better but at the time I thought they just decided to omit it from the program.

The encore last night proved me wrong in glorious ways. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

“The Movie Music of John Williams” was a sold out event on Saturday evening. As soon as I walked into the lobby, I could tell. Patrons were everywhere. Young and old. Subscribers and first timers to the symphony. There was a strong sense of anticipation in the air and that’s the best scenario for any performance.

Conductor Lawrence Loh is becoming familiar to me as I’ve seen him twice prior conducting the Seattle Symphony for both Star Wars concerts (“A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back”). His affinity for the pops material assured me we were in good hands for the performance.

The program started with the “Olympic Fanfare and Theme” from the 1984 Olympics. Conductor Loh spoke engagingly between the pieces giving back story, staged comedy, and the like. It was very evident that he is a genuine fan of the material which was great to see and hear. He knew more about the Star Wars franchise than I did!

The first act covered much of the more famous collaborations between John Williams and director Steven Spielberg. The main title themes from, “Jurassic Park”, “Jaws”, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, and, “E.T.” were all performed with energy and distinct reverence. It was also nice that some lesser known pieces were included such as the tango from, “Scent Of A Woman” and a number from, “War Horse”.

After the intermission, the second act launched into three pieces from the hugely popular world of Harry Potter. The main theme sounded wonderful as did, “Fluffy and His Harp” and “Aunt Marge’s Waltz”.

At this point it was time to delve into the Star Wars films. The original trilogy was covered as expected and a surprising inclusion of, “Across The Stars” from “Attack Of The Clones” turned out to be one of the best numbers of the night.

There was some intentional comedy when three volunteers were recruited to add some special F/X to one piece. Conductor Loh had mentioned earlier there would be no video screens or special F/X but conceded a zero budget special F/X for, “Here They Come!” The three volunteers on cue ran down the aisle and back - one with a toy Millenium Falcon and the other two with toy TIE Fighters. This number also included the audience mimicking the explosion of a TIE Fighter toward the end.

This all set up the last number of the evening, the main title theme from, “Star Wars”. The symphony sounded especially strong on this piece and the crowd roared in approval once it finished.

Now, remember what I said earlier about how I had been had (good naturedly of course)?  For whatever reason I just didn’t consider an encore number. Considering the number of concerts I review each year you would think this would be a no brainer (expecting an encore) - but no - I was caught off guard. Conductor Loh came back on stage wearing a hat. A fedora to be exact.


I was a very happy camper as they launched into the main title theme from, “Raiders Of The Lost Ark”. Those that were headed up the aisles returned to their seats to hear the rousing rendition of the beloved movie theme.

This concluded the performance of, “The Movie Music of John Williams”.

What a fantastic performance by the Seattle Symphony, the soloists, and of course conductor Lawrence Loh. After hearing such a wide range of John Williams music, it really hit me that his scores are a soundtrack to much of my life. From seeing, “Star Wars” in 1977 up to the current piece they played from, “Solo”, I, along with millions of others, hold the music of John Williams dear as it represents different parts of my life, not to mention the sheer joy his music and those films brought me over the years.

From the first note to the last, there was no way to make this night any better. Bravo to the Seattle Symphony and conductor Lawrence Loh!

Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

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