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Press Release


Jean Oelrich
Director of Communications
(714) 876-2380

“Salute to John Williams”: Pacific Symphony Pops Pays Tribute to the Extraordinary, Multiple-Award-Winning Legend Whose Film Scores Have Defined Modern American Culture

Orange County, Calif. — May 08, 2017

It took just two notes—found in the theme to Steven Spielberg’s movie “Jaws,” (dun-DUN...dun-DUN)—to make a major, permanent impression on the minds of moviegoers for generations to come. And perhaps an even more transforming force in Hollywood film music are the scores for the “Star Wars” movies—making the composer behind them an icon of American culture. John Williams is, in fact, the Academy Awards’ most-nominated living person (50 times! He is the second most-nominated individual after Walt Disney). Now, celebrating his sixty-year career, Pacific Symphony pays homage to the composer who wrote these and countless other unforgettable movie scores in “A Salute to John Williams.” Principal Pops Conductor Richard Kaufman leads the orchestra in this sure-to-sell-out tribute to the genius on the occasion of his 85th birthday.

This evening of magical movie tunes by the greatest film composer of all time features harmonica player Bernie Fields, R2-D2 and other fun guests, and takes place Friday, June 2 and Saturday, June 3, at 8 p.m., in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Tickets are $35-$167 (limited availability). For more information or to purchase tickets call (714) 755-5799 or visit

“John is the greatest living film composer,” says Maestro Kaufman, “and definitely one of history’s most brilliant writers. His music covers so many genres that there is something for everyone. And the concerts we will present as a celebration of this great man will feature many of his most-beloved scores. The ‘Force’ will be alive and well when we present our fond tribute to John Williams.”

Williams’ more than 40-year artistic partnership with director Steven Spielberg has resulted in many of Hollywood’s most acclaimed and successful films, including “Schindler’s List,” “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” “Jaws,” “Jurassic Park,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” four “Indiana Jones” films, “Amistad,” “Hook,” “Catch Me If You Can,” “Minority Report,” “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence,” “Empire of the Sun,” “The Adventures of TinTin” and “War Horse.” Many of the Symphony’s musicians can be heard on any number of the films, including their latest collaboration, “The BFG.”

How is it humanly possible? Williams has also composed the scores for the first seven “Star Wars” films, the first three “Harry Potter films,” “Superman: The Movie,” “JFK,” “Born on the Fourth of July,” “Memoirs of a Geisha,” “Far and Away,” “The Accidental Tourist,” “Home Alone,” “Nixon,” “The Patriot,” “Angela’s Ashes,” “Seven Years in Tibet,” “The Witches of Eastwick,” “Rosewood,” “Sleepers,” “Sabrina,” “Presumed Innocent,” “The Cowboys” and “The Reivers,” and many others!

“As a studio violinist, I had the great experience and honor of playing on a number of John Williams’ scores, including ‘Jaws’ and ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind,’ ” recalls Kaufman. “John creates music that brings a film to life in such a magnificent way, and for the audience to have the chance to hear this music in our grand concert hall is truly a special opportunity.”

Williams’ contributions to television music are also vast and include the well-known theme for NBC Nightly News, the theme for what has become network television’s longest-running series, NBC’s Meet the Press, and a theme for the prestigious PBS arts showcase “Great Performances” (which will feature in 2018 a performance by Pacific Symphony). Other notable works by Williams include theme music for four Olympic Games, NBC Sunday Night Football, the Statue of Liberty’s rededication and the television series “Lost in Space” and “Land of the Giants.” Despite Williams’ busy film and television composing career, he found time to serve as principal conductor of the famed Boston Pops Orchestra from 1980-1993.

Williams has composed numerous works for the concert stage, among them two symphonies, and concertos for flute, violin, clarinet, viola, oboe and tuba. His cello concerto was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and premiered by Yo-Yo Ma at Tanglewood in 1994. In 1971, he adapted the score for the film version of “Fiddler on the Roof,” for which he composed original violin cadenzas for renowned virtuoso Isaac Stern. He has appeared on recordings as pianist and conductor with Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell and others.

Williams’ work has been recognized with five Academy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, seven British Academy Film Awards, 21 Grammy Awards, and the Richard Kirk award at the 1999 Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) Film and TV Awards. He was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame in 2000 and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2009. He has received the Olympic Order, the IOC’s top honor, for his contributions to the Olympic movement in 2003; the Kennedy Center Honors in 2004 and the National Medal of Arts in 2009 (the highest award given to artists by the U.S. Government). In January 2009, he composed and arranged “Air and Simple Gifts” for the first inaugural ceremony of President Barack Obama.

“John writes in so many styles that there are several of his scores on everyone’s ‘favorites’ list,” says Kaufman, who began his career as a Hollywood studio musician in the music department of MGM Studios, serving as music supervisor from 1984 to 2002. “But if I had to choose my favorite, I would have to choose ‘Jaws,’ for sentimental reasons—because it was the first film of his I played violin for. It’s simply a perfect score, and shows John’s genius as both a composer and a dramatist.”

For Pacific Symphony’s Summer Festival 2007, Kaufman led the orchestra in a program that featured Williams’ music. The upcoming concerts are the second to pay tribute to Williams in the acoustic concert hall. His last appearance with the Symphony was as conductor in 2014.

“The music of John Williams is exciting for audiences no matter what,” Kaufman says, “but to experience his music in the magnificent environment of our concert hall is especially awe-inspiring. This is an opportunity for the audience to experience his extraordinary scores and discover how superbly they stand alone without the actual film, dialogue or sound effects.”

The Symphony’s Pops series receives support from The Westin South Coast Plaza, K-Earth 101 and PBS SoCal.