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Review of The Music Of John Willians by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

They say that everyone has a soundtrack to their lives and it usually leans towards a particular decade that they grew up in, that makes mine the eighties (of which I agree). However for me there has also been an affinity towards film soundtracks. For as long as I remember while growing up, I had vinyl, then cassettes and finally CD's of themes and original scores of films. A mainstay of these was the exceptional talent that is Mr John Williams. His work, particularly with who is also my favourite film director, Steven Spielberg is a thing of both excitement, action and also of stunning beauty.

The music performed by the Royal Philharmonic on this evening took me from a five year old and his earliest memories of the cinema and being amazed by E.T.'s glowing finger and bike ride across the sky, onto watching as a fifteen year old at school the film JFK for history. It then transported me to the thrill of seeing living, breathing dinosaurs as a sixteen year old and to a more mature (well slightly) late teen being overwhelmed by the harrowing, yet uplifting tale told of Oskar Schindler.

I have never had an evening such as this in the Derngate auditorium, with the stunning gamut of emotions I went through. The pulse quickening to the extreme as Superman and Indiana Jones played, and things getting in my eye as Schindler's List resonated across the theatre.

Fifteen of his film scores were covered during the show by the eighty-six strong orchestra wonderfully conducted by Robert Ziegler, with the orchestra superbly led by Clio Gould who performed two solo pieces from Schindler's List and Fiddler On The Roof to stunning effect. It was fascinating to hear Fiddler during the concert as although all the pieces were different, this was the only one that truly felt different in style as it not being a Williams piece, only an arrangement by him.

The evening closed to the inevitable Star Wars music, a film series that I have never entirely been a fan of. However the music from it is truly something else and was a very suitable way to close the evening (as had Superman been a gem to open on). At the end of the final Main Theme performance, the crowd wore their hands bare with their applause and garnered a wonderful encore of The Imperial March and at the end of this despite our applause continuing, the superb evening was sadly at an end.

The fascinating pre-show talk between John Griff and conductor Robert Ziegler made his point that he loved doing film score concerts because they resonated better with many non-classical fans because they could live the music better due to familiarity. This was very much highlighted by the audience itself as those present branced across a much greater age bracket than previous concerts I have attended. Bringing children under ten to an orchestra concert might be unthinkable with some composers. However John Williams is both a true classic composer and a populist one also and provides a stunning way to experience orchestra music for the first time.

A staggering evening of time travel and emotions for me and the greatest night I have had so far sitting in a Derngate seat.

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Performance reviewed: Sunday 28th June, 2015 at the Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton.


The Music Of John Williams was a single night performance at the Royal & Derngate on Sunday 27th June, 2015.

For further details visit the Royal & Derngate website at http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/

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