Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

August 4, 2008

Film Night

Tanglewood, Lenox
July 26, 2008
By Shera Cohen

For the past ten years, the Boston Pops Orchestra and maestro-extraordinaire John Williams have performed Film Night at Tanglewood. Yes, the July 4th concert as well as Tanglewood on Parade in August are huge events. With lesser fanfare, Film Night stands above those other evenings of music, particularly for anyone who has ever seen a movie composed by Williams. Let’s see…that means nearly everyone in the U.S., abroad, and probably on other planets. Williams has a special knack with extraterrestrial sounds.

The program’s first part began with a montage of movie music with every other piece a Williams’ theme. Whispers accompanied each number as the audience guessed the names of the movies. Once the screens descended for those in the Shed and outside, there was no need to wonder, except for the segment of “women in the movies.” Who was that star from the 1930s, for example.

While it was no secret (it was listed in the program book) that the entire second half was devoted to Indiana Jones, the special guests were huge surprises who received standing ovations: Kate Capshaw, Karen Allen, and Steven Spielberg. The latter narrated behind the scenes development of the Jones’ movies, including film clips without music. Williams’ creations were added, the clip repeated, and the crowd’s appreciation for the composer’s work was boisterous.

No, Harrison Ford was not at Tanglewood. But, isn’t it wonderful that Williams (just a composer!) and Spielberg (just a director!) are names as recognizable as Ford.

Williams shared his applause after each piece with his orchestra, making them stand. Let us not forget the Boston Pops. Without their talents, Williams’ work would have been silent. Indeed, he seemed like a humble man, unassuming by his skills and fame.

The only unfortunate part of the evening was a heavy storm immediately prior to the concert, perhaps keeping some listeners away. The stalwarts sat on soggy grass. Yet, even on a bleak day, Tanglewood’s grounds coupled with music from its venues make for one of the truly wonderful places in our country and in our culture.