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April 12, 2024

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Interview: The Music of John Williams

From "Superman" and "Star Wars" to "Harry Potter" and "Jurassic Park," the Nashville Symphony performs the music of one of America's greatest film composers.


To say John Williams is synonymous with movie music is an understatement. The 87-year-old American composer, conductor and pianist is a legend to say the least. With a career spanning more than six decades, Williams is the composer of more than 120 film scores. They include some of the biggest blockbusters in motion picture history — the Star Wars series, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jaws, the Indiana Jones series, the original Superman, the first three Harry Potter films and the first two Jurassic Park films, to name a few.

Williams' diversity is prevalent through other works including the 1984 Summer Olympic Games, NBC Sunday Night Football and the theme music for two classic TV series, Lost in Space and Land of the Giants. He even wrote the incidental music for the first season of Gilligan's Island.

Williams has 24 Grammy Awards, five Academy Awards, seven British Academy Film Awards and four Golden Globes. He has 51 Academy Award nominations, which makes him the second most nominated person behind Walt Disney. Star Wars fans can relish in the fact that the American Film Institute, in 2005, named Williams' score to 1977's Star Wars as the greatest American film score of all time. So, you can definitely say the Force is strong with Williams. Your family can hear the Nashville Symphony perform that score and a whole lot more Feb. 7 – 10 at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center.


The Nashville Symphony celebrates the music of the legendary compose, and you can look forward to hearing an array of his biggest film scores along with ones lesser known. Nashville Symphony Assistant Conductor Enrico Lopez-Yañez looks forward to presenting a memorable concert experience for all ages.

"There is so much in his catalog, and I love that it's all so different, all so unique," Lopez-Yañez says. "He creates universes of sound, whether it be music for Harry Potter, where he creates a beautiful, magical sounding score or he's transporting us into outer space in Star Wars with the effects of huge brass that are really powerful," he adds.

Nashville Symphony will include scores that are not often part of a symphony's tribute to the composer. "We will be playing music from Catch Me if You Can. There's one piece, "Closing In," that transports you back into the beauty of jazz music. We don't think of John Williams as a jazz composer, but when you hear that song featuring an alto sax, you realize he's a great jazz composer, too," says Lopez-Yañez.

Expect a journey into the world of westerns when the Nashville Symphony performs the overture from 1972's The Cowboys. A few other goodies to look forward to include the flying theme from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, "Superman March," "Raiders March" from Raiders of the Lost Ark, the themes from Jurassic Park, The Lost World and Star Wars, and "Hedwig's Theme" from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.


"The music is so incredibly descriptive, and John Williams is one of those brilliant artists who is very much informed by classical music and takes things that have influenced him to create his own thing from it," says Lopez-Yañez.

If your children have yet to experience a Nashville Symphony performance, this particular outing is sure to make for a tremendous introduction to the magic of a live orchestra.

"I think this is a great experience for kids because of how fun and exciting the music is. It's so approachable. The scores that are lesser known and maybe you don't have the visual attachment to them, they stand on their own as these incredibly depictive pieces of music," says Lopez-Yañez. "Even if you've never seen Memoirs of a Geisha, but then you close your eyes and listen to "Sayuri's Theme," which we'll be playing, you can't help but create visuals in your mind that may or may not be at all related to the movie. But it's such powerful and contagious music. You can't help but be transported somewhere and feel excited and passionate about the music that John Williams has written," he adds.



The Music of John Williams with the Nashville Symphony
Feb. 7 – 10; All ages
Schermerhorn Symphony Center
1 Symphony Place, Nashville
615-687-6400 |
Showtimes: Thu 7 p.m., Fri – Sat 8 p.m., Sun 3 p.m.
Tickets: $40 – $152

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