Review: Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Perform John Williams Tribute in Tokyo

October 6, 2023, International Forum Hall, Tokyo, JAPAN
Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra conducted by Keith Lockhart
* Hayato Sumino, piano
** Moné Hattori, violin


  • Superman March
  • Theme from Jaws
  • Main Title to The Towering Inferno
  • Excerpts from Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • Theme from Sabrina *
  • Over the Moon from E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial *
  • Harry’s Wondrous World from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
  • Theme from Jurassic Park
  • The Raiders March from Raiders of the Lost Ark


  • Finale (III. Allegro Agitato) from Piano Concerto in F (Gershwin) *
  • Allegro Vivo from Piano Concerto in C (Anderson) *
  • Olympic Fanfare and Theme
  • Theme from Schindler’s List **
  • Devil’s Dance from The Witches of Eastwick 
  • The Imperial March from The Empire Strikes Back
  • Yoda’s Theme from The Empire Strikes Back
  • Rey’s Theme from The Force Awakens
  • Main Title from Star Wars


  • Cantina Band from Star Wars



Review by AOP

Although I originally planned to not go to this concert as I have a policy for only seeing live concerts conducted by the original composer, I was so impressed by the last Williams concert at Suntory Hall that I promptly changed my mind. I just couldn’t get enough of those incredible Williams melodies live in concert… and to hear them being played by the world-renowned Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra who had last performed in Japan over 20 years ago? A no-brainer!

After some introductory words (in Japanese no less!) from the conductor, the concert began with the instantly recognizable trumpet notes from Superman while a montage of movies from Williams’ extensive body of work played on large screens.

After the applause died down, one of many short video interviews with Williams appeared on the screens to provide some context to the next piece being played.

His anecdote about The Towering Inferno was as surprising as it was amusing when he mentioned that the producer only liked his music after he highlighted the producer’s name musically during the credits! Honestly, I had never really been a big fan of The Towering Inferno, but after hearing this spirited performance, I know what I’ll be listening to as soon as I get home tonight!

The suite from Close Encounters of the Third Kind was a stunning showcase of the perfect marriage between music and image. Along with a perfectly edited video montage from the film, the music went from a feeling of dread and despair to a deep sense of wonderment and elation. The audience was truly spellbound during the whole piece… you could literally hear a pin drop.

The main theme from Sabrina dazzled with its delicate piano and romantic string and flute parts. The guest pianist, Hayato Sumino, performed to perfection and received hearty applause after the piece.

After the interval, we were treated to the main theme from Jurassic Park. Unfortunately, the French horn player flubbed the fourth note of the opening solo… a small sour point in an otherwise excellent performance.

Together with an inspiring video montage of Olympians and their incredible achievements over the years, the sounds of the Olympic Fanfare and Theme filled the auditorium with feelings of heroism, courage and determination. I’m certainly no sportsman, but after hearing that piece, I felt I could take on the world!

The main theme from Schindler’s List was preceded by an interview clip of Williams explaining how he favoured the “Remembrances” theme over the “Main theme.” It was somewhat odd then that the “Main theme” was performed right after! In any case, it was a deeply moving  performance of the theme that was greatly received by the audience.

The last three pieces were from Star Wars: “Yoda’s theme,” “Rey’s theme,” and the iconic “Star Wars: Main title.” All were perfectly performed with “Rey’s theme” being a particular standout. The clarity of the woodwind instruments during that piece really helped the piece shine. Just lovely.

The encore for the night was “Cantina band” from Star Wars. It was a fun and vibrant performance that I’m sure put a smile on many faces… mine included! It was a perfect way to end the concert and yet another reminder that Williams has been, and always will be, the very best.

See also: ‘John Williams Tribute’ at the Boston Symphony Hall, Sep. 22/23, 2023