Chicago Symphony Orchestra, John Williams, conductor
Ravinia Festival, Tinley Park, IL
18 July 1999
1. Sound the Bells
2. The Cowboys Overture
3. Suite from The Reivers, Narration by Ossie Davis
4. Theme from Far and Away
5. Raiders’ March from Raiders of the Lost Ark
6. Theme from Jurassic Park
7. Excerpts from Close Encounters of the Third Kind
8. Shark Cage Fugue from Jaws
9. Theme from Schindler’s List
10. 1941 March
11. Medley: The Flag Parade/Anakin’s Theme/Duel of the Fates from Star Wars: Episode I--The Phantom Menace
12. Adventures on Earth from E.T.--The Extra-Terrestrial
13. Star Wars Main Title
This one wasn't even planned. I was in Chicago with my friends, to attend Wizard World Chicago. I wasn't feeling well for much of our stay, so the rest went out without me a few nights. They returned one night with a local paper that had a listing for this concert. We were scheduled to leave Chicago that night, but we were all in agreement that the opportunity was simply irresistible so we agreed to pack, drive to the concert and then just be behind schedule getting home the next day. It was worth it. Admission was free for those with college ID's, which I didn't have, but I hardly minded the $5.00 ticket. If you've not been to Ravinia, there is an amphitheater amidst a gorgeous, sprawling park. There are wine vendors, picnic areas and a terrific speaker system to ensure that even those who cannot see the performance can hear it clearly. We elected to congregate near the back of the amphitheater. I remained standing for much of the performance; my friends elected to lie on their backs on the lawn behind me for quite a lot of it.
The show was constructed around the film scores of John Williams. You can cite pop and rock artists as providing the soundtracks to my generation, but there can be no argument that it was Williams's film music that became the score to our youth. The highlight of the night must have been "Suite from The Reivers," during which Ossie Davis came on stage and read the original short story against the background of Williams's music. It was magnificent, and I wish there had been a recording of it.
The sun had set by intermission, and the second act began in twilight with "Theme from Jurassic Park," which may be my personal favorite composition in Williams's entire catalog. It was wonderful to hear on a beautiful summer night. The show concluded with a medley from that year's Phantom Menace, and then an encore of "Adventures on Earth" from E.T. and "Star Wars Main Title." It was fascinating to observe the refined, orchestra aficionados roused into applause by Star Wars.