By DAVID DOW BENTLEY III “The People’s Critic”
[Click any photo to enlarge]
Longtime readers of this column may recall my report of the last visit of conductor, Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Orchestra to the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.* That performance was seventeen years ago in August of 2002, but last week’s return engagement, with Lockhart again conducting, was every bit as splendid. It was indeed the perfect opener for the Pavilion’s 30th Anniversary Season. Titled LIGHTS, CAMERA…MUSIC! SIX DECADES OF JOHN WILLIAMS, this tribute to the prolific composer of music for cinema got off to a lushly beautiful start with the “Main Title & Overture,” from Heidi. The majestic sweep of the music and the echoing call of the Alphorn seem to transport us to the hillsides of the Swiss Alps. Then, under smoky, sea-blue lighting amid the relentless pounding of the kettle drums, there came a sudden shift toward nerve-wracking tension, with the always thrilling “Theme” from Jaws. That tension would escalate further with the pulsing rhythms of the “Main Title” from The Towering Inferno.
The next segment, titled Around the World with John Williams, began with the mystical and oriental flavors of “Sayuri’s Theme” from Memoirs of a Geisha, featuring a magnificent solo performance from principal cellist, Ronald Lowry. That was elegantly followed by the “Suite” from Far and Away, opening with its high-stepping flair and joyous accents of an Irish jig. The final segment of this first half of the concert was titled, The Magic of John Williams, and began quite appropriately with the whirling and tinkling mystery of “Hedwig’s Theme” from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Its sudden surges of passion were guided by the sweeping embrace of the strings and punctuated by the orchestra’s fiery brass. During “Stargazers,” from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, principal harpist, Ina Zdorovetchi would continue the enchantment casting a hypnotic spell with the haunting delicacy of her performance on such a perfect night for a concert under the stars. The orchestra would then supply the perfect finale for part one of the program with a soaring and sparkling trip heavenward via the majestic power of the “Flying Theme,” from E.T. the Extra Terrestrial.
Following Intermission the audience was quickly called to attention with the thrilling “Raider’s March” from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Then the final two sections of the program began with John Williams: Facing History and Ourselves, which opened with the poignant, Theme from JFK, featuring a stirring performance from Terry Everson on trumpet. In yet another stunning solo performance, concertmaster, Charles Dimmick beautifully captured all the heart-wrenching reverence of the haunting Theme from Schindler’s List. As the orchestra moved on to the stately, warm elements of early American music in the Theme from The Patriot, I was reminded of so many warm summer Sunday nights when my family enjoyed the U.S. Military Band’s concerts on the banks of the Hudson River at West Point where patriotism was on full display. Then, in a selection that might fit well into next October’s annual Hocus Pocus Pops concert from the Houston Symphony, the orchestra provided the suitably spooky twists and turns of the “Devil’s Dance” from the Witches of Eastwick.
The exciting final portion of the program, May the Force Be With You, began with the thunderous “Imperial March” from The Empire Strikes Back, which served as a perfect reminder there is nothing like hearing such monumental music from a live orchestra. Closing out the program would be a performance of “Rey’s Theme” from The Force Awakens, and then the inevitable and thrilling Main Title from Star Wars. That film would also supply the playful and delightful, “Cantina Band” song, the first of several encores to calm the cheering crowd. After a long and strenuous evening of his ever-graceful conducting from the podium, maestro Lockhart was not too tired to wow the audience with a couple of hand-clapping favorites: “Deep in the Heart of Texas,” and “The Yellow Rose of Texas.” Who wouldn’t love him after that?
COMING SOON to the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion on April 6, 2019: FRANK The Man, The Music, starring the number one singing impressionist in the world, Bob Anderson, performing the music of Frank Sinatra with a 32-piece orchestra. For tickets call LIVE NATION at 800-745-3000. For information call 281-364-3010 or visit the website at www.woodlandscenter.org.
A member of both The Lambs Club Inc. and The American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA), the columns of DAVID DOW BENTLEY III have appeared on Broadway websites, in newspapers from the East Coast to the Gulf Coast, and may be viewed online at the website: www.ThePeoplesCritic.com . E-mail may be directed to ThePeoplesCritic3@gmail.com.