Sunday, May 11, 2008

My tribute to Star Wars and Indiana Jones composer John Williams (cover story).


Name that tune

Joe Scott
Special to Go Triad

May 7, 2008

He probably never intended to do so, but John Williams composed the score of my childhood.

Growing up, whenever my kid brother did something that merited a beat-down, I would often whistle the opening march to "Superman" as I gave him what for.

Any time I swam in an above-ground pool and someone chanted the two-note motif from "Jaws," my chances of being splashed, dunked or publicly humiliated in some way increased significantly.

And when I played dodge ball while humming the adventurous theme to "Raiders of the Lost Ark," it seemed like no one on the other team could get me out.

John Williams scored all of these timeless films, as well as the music for modern classics such as "Star Wars," "E.T.," "Schindler's List" and the "Harry Potter" series.

The Greensboro Symphony Orchestra will pay tribute to Williams' memorable hits Saturday in "Movie Music of John Williams" with guest conductor Michael Krajewski. The presentation will combine live music with a video and slide presentation of classic films featuring Williams' work, as well as guest appearances by "Star Wars" characters such as Darth Vader and a small army of Imperial stormtroopers.

"John Williams, I feel, is a really good way for us in the symphonic world to connect with a wider group of people," Krajewski says. "The music that he's written for those popular movies has been symphonic scores. So, it's provided new material, very good material, for orchestras."

(Click here to read the rest of the story, which includes great interview clips from AICN's Eric "Quint" Vespe.)


While working on this story, one of the first questions I asked myself was, 'How does it feel to watch movies for the first time the way that John Williams does?'

Think about it: Williams got to see movies like Jaws, Star Wars, and Raiders of the Lost Ark long before the general public ever did. However, when he saw these films, he had to watch them sans his music which was a major reason that all of them were so good to begin with.

That's kinda sad if you ask me.

I submitted an interview request with Williams himself, but his people said he was too busy working on Indy IV to respond.

So I quickly changed my point of attack. I thought of my lead almost instantaneously, spoke with a couple of online film score geeks, and got a fairly solid piece out of it.

One person even wrote the editor to say that on a scale between 1 and 10, they gave the article a 20. Not bad, but at least sixty percent of that praise is owed to Tim Rickard, the artist who created some amazing artwork for the cover.

We were originally going to go with a photo instead. I had tried to contact a couple of local Stormtroopers from the Carolina Garrison of the 501st Legion. But if that experience has taught me nothing else, it's that Imperial soldiers don't respond to e-mail in a timely fashion.

Granted, they're probably very busy vaporizing jawas while framing Tuscan raiders, but if the Stormtroopers had contacted us in time, our plan was to get one or two members from the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra to sit in an orchestra pit and look surprised when they found out that the rest of their orchestra had been replaced with ... STORMTROOPERS!

Unfortunately, the Stormtroopers didn't respond in time, which was more than fine because again, Rickard did such an incredible job.

But then a few days after the photo deadline, I get the following e-mail from Charlotte area "Stormtrooper" Milton Nunez:

Hey Joe, I read your e-mail regarding fun ideas to do with Star Wars characters and it sounds like fun but I want you to be aware that for some stormtroopers if not all it is extremely difficult to sit down. I personally can not do it in my costume. My point is to consider this in your plans. Any questions feel free to call me.

Milton Nunez

Stormtroopers can't sit down?!?! HA!

No wonder they got owned by Ewoks in Return of the Jedi.

(This is a great gospel video singing praises of for the Ewoks, featuring Billy D. Williams.)


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