San Diego, February 10, 2007

Copley Symphony Hall, San Diego, CA
Saturday, February 10
, 2007
The San Diego Symphony Orchestra conducted by JOHN WILLIAMS

“John Williams Conducts!”

Concert Program


  • The Cowboys Overture
  • Excerpts from Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • Suite from Harry Potter (Hedwig’s Theme/Nimbus 2000/Harry’s Wondrous World)
  • “Adventures o­n Earth” from E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial


  • Monsters, Beauties, & Heroes
  • Opening Chase from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  • “Theme from Schindler’s List” from Schindler’s List (Jeff Thayer, violin)
  • Suite from Star Wars (Imperial March/Princess Leia’s Theme/Main Title)


  • “Sayuri’s Theme” from Memoirs of a Geisha
  • Olympic Spirit
  • The Raiders March

Concert Review by ‘Hellgi’

The good:
– John Williams!!!
– The choice of pieces was interesting, especially The Cowboys‘Geisha’, the arrangements by John Williams, and – in general – all the pieces which got performed with video
– Close Encounters of the Third Kind: great performance IMO

The bad:
– The 1st violin (Schindler’s List…)
– Ensemble issues: the sections weren’t very tight and sometimes had a hard time being together.
– English horn player in ‘Geisha’
– Brass section in ‘Imperial March’

The ugly:
– The Copley Symphony Hall isn’t good acoustically: We had pretty good orchestra seats, but couldn’t hear the strings (somehow, the further away the instrument, the better we could hear it)
– The horn section wasn’t tight and very often the players were out of tune with each other
– The first horn player’s playing was way below what o­ne can expect from a professional player. His various solos (especially in Princess Leia’s Theme) were played badly; he had a hard time reaching high notes; and often times it seems he was playing the music for the first time (no practice). Maybe he was sick?

Anyway… it was a nice evening… but I was a bit disapointed! At least it gave me the chance to see JW for the second time in a live performance (but I consider his Pittsburgh performance in 2000 to be far superior).

Concert Review by ‘Genious Gone Insane’

‘Close Encounters’ is an absolutely terrific 2nd piece in any set, just fecking amazing! I don’t own the soundtrack, rest assured after that performance it will be in my collection very soon!

Hellgi’s review above is a bit harsh, though s/he is correct o­n a lot of it. However, I thought 1st violin was pretty good o­n Schindler’s List. Actually, I thought it was excellent. Anyway, what can you expect out of such little practice? Also, the sound was good, at least where I was sitting, right in front of the violins (2nd row, left section).

‘Princess Leia’s Theme’ would have been the best piece had that horn been in tune (that was the o­ne cringe moment for me). Otherwise, the rendition was perfect. ‘Imperial March’ owned, as always. Finally I got to hear the ‘Star Wars Main Title’!

The man knows how to talk. He is such a great speaker. He’s as modest as o­ne can be without it becoming obnoxious.

All in all, I got choked up several times, that E.T. ending is just nuts, man I think the hair is still standing o­n my neck from that part! Brilliant!

BTW, I think I’m in love with the violinist o­n the far left, front row. Also, who was the bold o­ne who shouted “Happy Birthday John!”?

‘Monsters, Beauties, & Heroes’, which I’d never heard before, was actually really cool. In fact, this was the first time I’d seen such visuals running during a performance, and it was absolutely fascinating. The visuals were much more intense than the LOTR symphony. I thought the visuals would be distracting, but really they were great. The Last Crusade chase was really, really fun to see.

Damn, it was so cool to turn around and see the smiles o­n everyone’s faces. Really, JW’s music is something special.

Concert Review by ‘ST-321’

I don’t agree with Hellgi review. Mine is perhaps a bit askew seeing as I am a long time fan (over 30 years) who finally saw Mr. Williams for the first time and had never heard any of this music performed in person before. colgate.gif

Williams praised the symphony several times and talked about how important a symphony is for a community.

The Cowboys Overture was an excellent warm up to the evening. The piece is better than I remembered (making me listen to is o­n the way home this morning).

CE3K was great. I was thrilled by seeing its iconic opening performed for the first time. The score is so wonderfully dissonant and creepy early o­n and builds to a majestic beautiful statement of the “five tones”. The performance very much worked for me.

JW then very nicely worked the crowd and proved as he is famous for he doesn’t really know the details of the films. I o­nly cringed a little when he described the ‘Nimbus 2000’ as a “magic rod”. rolleyes.gif It doesn’t matter. The music matter. He made several references to our being able to hear film music without the distraction of the actual film. wink.gif

Then it was o­n to the “last reel” or “last ten minutes” of E.T. It sounded mighty fine.

Intermission. sad.gif JW was sweating by the end of CE3K, so it was earned.

After intermission we had ‘Monsters, Beauties, & Heroes’. Somewhat derivative of the “Oscar Medley” from a couple of years ago. My memory fades (drats!) but it did include Jaws and some of the Superman theme (yes!). This included a slide show of famous photos from the movies. It ended o­n Christopher Reeve which got a cheer from the audience. From row 2 the screen was just about straight over head and difficult to see. JW has his own monitor showing the same thing next to his music.

The Opening Chase from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was very nice. He showed the bit (~4 minutes) without music from where young Indy leaves the cave and calls his horse to his escape from the train. First it was without music. JW narrated explaining the action and talked about the themes (“Are you ready for some leitmotif? – I was!) and what the orchestra would be doing. Then they the same clip and played the music to it. Super!

I thought that Jeffy Thayer’s performance o­n the ‘Theme from Schindler’s List‘ was very good. My wife described it as moving.

JW gave almost no introduction to Star Wars merely describing them as “old friends” (or was it “old favorites”?).

I was grinning throughout the ‘Imperial March’ and enjoyed it greatly. Hellgi’s comments are right o­n about the horn performance in ‘Leia’s theme’. Too bad, but it didn’t ruin the piece for me. BTW, I suspect that the horn player knew it was going to be a problem as I heard that part being played in both warmups.

The ‘Star Wars Main Title’ left me feeling a bit sad as I knew things were coming to a close. I was also wishing there was a concert arrangement of Ben’s Theme (aka the Force Theme). Oh well, tis not to be. Still this was a nice performance.

After the applause died down came ‘Sayuri’s Theme’ from Memoirs of a Geisha and Olympic Spirit from the 1988 Olympic Games in South Korea. I confess I don’t think I own a recording of this. Is there a good release out there? The performance was fine o­n each. Olympic Spirit was accompanied by clips from the ’88 Games o­n that screen that was too high for me to see. Actually, I gave up o­n it and watched the conducting. smile.gif

JW left and returned for ‘The Raiders March’. I recognized it from the first moments but there was applause (during the music! angry.gif ) when the familiar notes of the March were recognized by the crowd.

Afterwards, the applause kept o­n coming. JW went out and returned perhaps 4 times. o­n the third time he brought his hands to the side of his head with the sign of its time to sleep. I didn’t think the sold-out crowd was going to stop clapping, but o­n his last trip to the stage he took his bows, and the symphony again take their bows and got them off the stage.

It was a wonderful night for me.

Concert Review by Christie McCall

I did spring for the VIP tickets and it was a lot of fun. We did not get birthday cake per se, but during intermission they had little tarts and buttercream cakes and wine in the Novelle room. We didn’t get to meet Mr. Williams o­n a o­ne-on-one basis. He appeared near the end of our dinner and shared a few stories, but it was close to the beginning of the concert and he had to dash off. He was not in the Novelle room either. My impression of him was that he was kind and gracious. I wish I could have met him.

I read some complaints about the hall acoustics, but from where I sat they were perfect. We were in the grand tier. I wish I could sit in those seats all the time, but this was a big splurge for us. I thought the musicians did a wonderful job. I’ve never heard the San Diego symphony before and they were better than I hoped. I noticed the flute section was especially good. I thought the orchestra had difficulty with the Close Encounters piece, having a hard time staying together. But then, that’s my favorite piece and I knew it too well to turn off my brain and just listen.

–Christine McCall