Celebration of iconic Williams film scores a treat

NZSO, Movie Magic — Best of John Williams, Dunedin Town Hall, Sunday, November 5.

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, this country’s outstanding professional symphony orchestra was in the city for a few days and locals have been treated to several opportunities to hear them in various concert and informal situations.

Its visit ended yesterday with a 2pm concert at the Dunedin Town Hall entitled Movie Magic — Best of John Williams.

The hall was very full, with children and family groups, for this excellent orchestral celebration of John Williams’ (1932-) iconic film scores for many Spielberg box office triumphs.

The stage was crammed with instruments and musicians in casual attire, and their dynamic New Zealand-born principal conductor Gemma New compered from the rostrum.

Hedwig’s Theme from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone set a magical scene for the many favourites to follow.

Flight to Neverland from Hook produced big sounds — strong brass, percussion and woodwinds — then Adventures on Earth from E.T. and excerpts from Close Encounters of the Third Kind featured shimmering strings and ‘‘glissandi’’, transporting the listener to intrepid adventures in extra-terrestrial places.

The unmistakable Shark Theme with strong brass and full orchestral themes certainly stirred memories of that movie’s scariest scenes.

After the aliens and sharks came themes from Jurassic Park and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Two young Dunedin composers were honoured to have their computer-game and film scores performed: Downrider by Chris Geddes and Hegemony by Tom Jensen.

Three movements from the suite for orchestra Star Wars: The Force Awakens ended the selection of work by John Williams, who has composed scores for more than 100 films, some being the most memorable music in movie history.

For many young people yesterday’s event may have been their first experience of watching a live orchestra and I am certain that memories were made that will endure for a lifetime.