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About this Piece

Few have had an impact on music and culture as great as John Williams, who celebrated his 90th birthday earlier this year. His iconic themes and masterful orchestrations have epitomized the enduring emotional power of symphonic music, even as trends and tastes have changed in Hollywood across his many-decades-long career. What’s more, his musical voice has inspired generations of composers and artists—including Gustavo Dudamel—who discovered John’s music as children and have carried the love of his music throughout their adult lives.

A throughline in Williams’ career, which is on display at this concert, is the importance of relationships in his musical life, linking him to a diversity of performing artists, film directors, orchestras, and musical institutions. Up first, we hear a brief work titled Just Down West Street. Williams wrote this piece as a gift to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Tanglewood Music Center, where he has spent many summers performing with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston Pops. The name offers literal directions to the venue from downtown Lenox, Massachusetts, and allows each section of the orchestra to have a moment in the spotlight. The work is an example of a growing subgenre of celebratory music Williams has composed for special occasions that also includes a fanfare premiered this summer to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Hollywood Bowl.