Think of a classic movie score. We’ll give you a minute.

What was the first one that came to mind? Could it be the famous tune from Raiders of the Lost Ark, invoking images of rough and tumble, grizzled archeologists and exotic treasure? Or was it the terrifying theme from Jaws, easily the most frightening two notes in movie history? How about the most famous science fiction theme in history, Star Wars? Whichever movie or tune you thought of there’s a high chance that one man is responsible for creating it. John Williams

John Williams is arguably the most critically acclaimed composer in movie history and remains at the top of his industry composing new works for film. With a career spanning over six decades and numerous wins at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Grammys, whether you’re a movie buff or a casual theatre goer, it’s impossible to escape the iconic composer. Williams is well known for his collaborative work with director Steven Spielberg and has composed the scores for the director’s most famous works including Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Jurassic Park and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial to name a few. In fact, Williams has scored all of Spielberg’s films except one, The Color Purple.  However Williams has not limited himself to working solely with one director. One of his most famous pieces is the theme for Star Wars, directed by George Lucas. Williams also teamed up with Richard Donner for the original Superman movie and Chris Columbus to score Home Alone. William’s latest work for Bride of Spies (to be released October 2015) reunites him with Steven Spielberg, marking their 27th collaboration.

Watch as John Williams conducts the main theme of Star Wars.

Even if you don’t watch movies, you’re likely to recognize Williams’ work. He has also composed music for the hit TV show Friday Night Lights, the classics Lost in Space and Gilligan’s Island and even NBC Sunday Night Football and the Olympic Games. John Williams really is everywhere.

Away from the film set, Williams has contributed extensively to the classical music scene and has written many concert pieces for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra to name a few. He has led the Boston Pops on tour several times and has also appeared as guest conductor for the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Listen to John Williams’ bassoon concerto, The Five Sacred Trees

After listening to both videos above, you’ll hear that John Williams work has a notable style whether composed for film or concert. His scores are complex and exciting, often utilizing the full orchestra. Williams is also known for his extensive use of leitmotifs, a tool used to musically denote a particular person, place or idea. Williams likely drew this inspiration from the works of Richard Wagner, as the composer often used leitmotifs in his works such as Ride of the Valkyries.

But reading about John Williams and listening online just isn’t enough. There are two ways you can experience John Williams work with the HPO this month. Join us on Wednesday March 11 for HPO Movie Night at the Zoetic as we re-live the adventure and magic of E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.  Grab some popcorn and enjoy a pre-film musical feature before the movie.  Then on Saturday, March 21 join us for Sci-Fi Spectacular, an exciting and out of this world musical adventure featuring your favourite science fiction hits. Costumes welcome and be sure to watch out for our special guests!

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