BBC Proms 2017: Celebrating John Williams at the Royal Albert Hall
A sold-out Royal Albert had the fortune to experience the magic of John Williams’s most relevant work. BBC Proms 2017 has dedicated one of the nights of its 123rd season to the celebrated American composer, who is still as talented and imaginative at the age of 85 as he was when he collaborated for the first time with Steven Spielberg on The Sugarland Express and when he wrote the timeless theme for Jaws.
His contribution to cinema had not only transformed him into a major reference among fellow composers but his work has elevated several movies to an iconic level, creating a new definition for nostalgia. Apart from his clear genius and inventiveness, John Williams, who didn’t have the chance to participate in the homage evening, is well known for being a stubborn orchestra lover, who praise the classic Hollywood and its epic scores. To him we owe the revival of the orchestral tradition in movies, that was starting to decline in the 60s.
Conductor Keith Lockhart drove us to the most magic places alongside the BBC Concert Orchestra. Starting with the powerful Raiders March from Raiders of the Lost Ark, that left more than one member of the audience on the edge of their seat, the show flew smoothly touching the classics, but also incorporating more modern and not-that-well-known pieces such as Dartmoor 1912 from War Horse, Prayer for Peace from Munich, or Rey’s Theme from the most recent Star Wars instalment – the worldwide success Episode VII: The Force Awakens.
There was many surprises too: the concert was lead by a new generation of artists who made their debut at the Royal Albert Hall. Among them, Jamal Aliyev played a flawless cello solo, capturing the complexity of Sayuri’s delicacy in Memoirs of a Geisha. Jess Gillam made a big impression too with her sax performance during Escapades (No. 3) from Catch Me If You Can. Furthermore, the children from the Haringey Vox Choir and the Choir of Music Centre London deserve a mention: they brought the right amount of freedom and empowerment to Amistad‘s Dry Your Tears, Afrika. It was a memorable night and it ended with the quintessential, unforgettable Main Theme from Star Wars: A New Hope.
For further information and future events visit the BBC Proms website here.
Watch the highlight from the Celebrating John Williams concert here: