Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra; Conner Prairie; July 7
A fine showcase of ISO talent paid homage to the amazing career of John Williams, whose compositions evoke immediate imagery of flicks we’ve witnessed years ago. From the earlier themes of Jaws, Star Wars, Superman and E.T. to the more recent Jurassic Park and Harry Potter, Williams gets us into the emotional core of the characters, places us into the action and gives us something to think about even when we’re not in the movie theater. Yet beyond the best of the best, Maestro Alfred Savio chose other selections that show Williams in other lights. “The March” from Steven Spielberg’s lesser-known farce 1941 seems like a boring repetition of 12 measures away from the film, while the main theme from Schindler’s List is brilliant as a solo violin with orchestra. Christal Phelps, standing in for an ailing Philip Palermo, delivered a richly nuanced essay. Phelps’ instrument allows the poignancy needed to bring lower tones to brilliant hues. Equally exciting was Mark Ortwein’s alto saxophone rendition of “Catch Me If You Can” from Escapades. Completing the 1960s combo jazz sound were Ju-Fang Liu on bass and Braham Dembar on vibraphone. The audience was cheering even before the finale, but they were ecstatic after the glorious gold curtain closing fireworks set off during the Main Title from Star Wars. Three curtain calls and the huge crowd was still applauding. It’s nice to have a symphony that’s its own star.