Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

August 23, 2011

Film Night

Tanglewood, Lenox, MA
August 20, 2011
by Shera Cohen

John Williams
Standing at the maestro's podium, John William turned from facing the Boston Pops Orchestra to see his audience of at least 100,000. He asked one simple question, "Isn't this a magical place?" The response? Cheers, clapping, foot stomping, and every form of verbal accolade imaginable. This throng of percussive action continued throughout Film Night at Tanglewood. The shed was packed, as was the lawn with only inches of grass between patrons. More than any other year, it seemed as if many t'weens and teens populated the concert. It was wonderful to see them.

John Williams needed no introduction on stage or now. As several overhead screens lowered, the conductor held his baton high and immediately led his orchestra through "Hooray for Hollywood." To a fast paced montage of movie clips from the past 90 years, it was a toss-up as to which the audience liked better - the music or the movies. But this was no contest. The night was all about movie music. Throughout the concert, other lengthy film compilations filled the screens. The Salute to Westerns began with a rousing "The Cowboys," followed by the whispery "Dances with Wolves," culminating with "How the West Was Won" with split second edits of actors from Tom Mix to Jeff Bridges. Of course, John Wayne got a lot of screen time.

A surprise montage, accompanied by the theme from "Sabrina," delighted the audience in a remembrance of Audrey Hepburn. During The Tribute to Film Composers, it was no surprise that approximately one-quarter of the movie scores were those of Williams. Yet, this man is so humble and self-effacing. He shared all clapping and cheering fully with his orchestra, as the musicians rose each time at his insistence, especially after the "Star Wars" finale (a medley of all six SW movies).

Morgan Freeman
Was all of this enough for one of the finest concerts ever performed? No. Actor Morgan Freeman poetically narrated the story of "The Reivers" to Williams' score; violinist Gil Shaham lovely played a trio of pieces from "Shindler's List" and then exuberantly dove into the entire overture of "Fiddler on the Roof." Yes, Tanglewood is magical, as is the Boston Pops and music genius John Williams.