Before the pandemic – which seems like a long time ago – I liked visiting European cities to enjoy their scenery and to attend a film music concert. It has been more than two years since I have been to such a concert, but when Gorka Oteiza from SoundtrackFest informed me about a John Williams concert in Bilbao, Spain, that he would be attending, I decided to go.
During the first half of the concert the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Erik Nielsen, performed all kinds of pieces from Williams’ film music library, except for the opening piece, “Olympic Fanfare.” The music from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which came next, is always an interesting listening experience. The first half of the suite contains unusual musical patterns and soundscapes and you have to wait until the second half to hear the wonderful melodies containing the famous five tones.
After listening to the magical melodies of “Hedwig’s Theme” and “Harry’s Wonderful World” from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, it was time for the theme from Schindler’s List. I think the concertmaster did his best to give the solo the attention it needs, but unfortunately the piece was played a little bit too fast, losing some of the emotional touches that makes this theme so special.
The first half ended with two themes from Jurassic Park. The first one was from Jurassic Park: The Lost World, which was quite refreshing for me, as I had never heard that theme performed live before. The other was from the first Jurassic Park movie, which, in contrast, has been played at many concerts I have attended. What was interesting for me to see was that the orchestra had six French Horn players, one of whom was playing all the solos, including the important one in this theme, but the other five would play before and after those solos so he could fully concentrate on those.
The second half of the concert was fully dedicated to Star Wars. It started and ended traditionally with the main theme and “Throne Room and Finale,” and in between we could listen to a selection of music from mostly the original trilogy. Most of those pieces were the important themes, including “The Imperial March” and “Yoda’s Theme,” but also the interesting battle music John Williams has written for Star Wars, like “Here They Come,” “The Forest Battle” and “Scherzo for X-Wings,” in which you can hear the brilliant patterns and small leitmotifs Williams has written for those scenes. After the official program of marvelous John Williams music, we were treated to one encore, which was “Flying Theme” from E.T. Not only was the music delightful, but the viola players were pedaling with their feet in the air while playing their part as well, giving the concert a memorable ending.
The venue for the concert was quite large, and it was decently filled with people and I hope all of them had a pleasant night of listening to John Williams’ brilliant music. I have heard it a lot, and yet I keep discovering new elements in his music. Hopefully the orchestra had a good time as well and wants to continue to do film music concerts. Maybe from different composers? I would not mind returning to Bilbao again, and not only for the good company, apple cider and wine, but also for another film music concert.
Where: Euskalduna Palace in Bilbao, Spain
When: April 7, 2022
Orchestra: Bilbao Symphony Orchestra conducted by Erik Nielsen
- “Olympic Fanfare”
- Suite from Close Encounters of the Third Kind
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
- Hedwig’s Theme
- Harry’s Wondrous World
- “Main Theme” from Schindler’s List
- “Main Theme” from Jurassic Park: The Lost World
- Suite from Jurassic Park
- Star Wars
- Main Title
- Princess Leia’s Theme
- Scherzo for X-Wings
- The Imperial March
- Here They Come
- Luke and Leia
- The Forest Battle
- Yoda’s Theme
- The Throne Room and End Title
- “Flying Theme” from E.T. (encore)