There are gaps in my education, it was pointed out to me on Saturday night. I knew there were but am somewhat astounded by the extent and variety of them. I used my last NAC (National Art Center, Ottawa) tickets for the John Williams musical Pops evening under the baton of Jack Everly with the NAC orchestra and the Ewashko Singers. I was familiar with the music from Schindler’s List, Home Alone, Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone, Empire of the Sun (amazing movie; if you haven’t seen it you should get it right now), E.T. (The Extra Terrestrial), and Saving Private Ryan. I was delighted by “The Cowboys Overture” from the John Wayne movie, The Cowboys, and didn’t know that Williams had composed “The Mission Theme” from the NBC News which aired from 1985 to 2004. However, I have never seen any of the Star Wars movies. I bought the set a few years ago and have never sat down to watch any of them. The evening was riddled with the wonderful music Williams wrote for these movies: “Raiders March” from Raiders of the Lost Ark, “Duel of the Fates” from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, and “Main Title” from Star Wars: Suite for Orchestra. All now added to my “to do” list!
Before the performance, there were Star Wars and Superman characters roaming the foyer with light sabers (and other weapons of destruction) and providing photo ops and a thoroughly fun beginning to the evening. It was great just mingling, finding friends, and watching people having their pictures taken with Darth Vader, Superman, Clone Troopers, Chewbacca, Darth Sidious, and others.
The highlight of the evening had to be violinist Yosuke Kawasaki playing the Theme from Schindler’s List. The composition itself is so moving but Kawasaki’s rendition was beautifully sensuous, evoking many scenes from the movie, perhaps, none so much as the final scene from the cemetery when the survivors honour Schindler. This is a movie everyone should see. If you have never watched it, you should set aside an evening to do just that; large screen. As beautiful as this music is without the knowledge of the movie and its history, hearing it after the movie makes the music so much more meaningful and bittersweet.
If you have never heard the Canadian National Arts Center Orchestra and you live in the Ottawa area or are planning to visit Ottawa, you should make a point of going to a performance. There are many to choose from and I guarantee you will enjoy the evening immensely. Or, perhaps you will catch them on tour. They are truly a world class orchestra.