North State Symphony showcases film composer with popular movie themes


Natalie Hanson

Scott Seaton conducts the theme from “Catch Me If You Can” while also playing saxophone.

Natalie Hanson

The North State Symphony took a detour through some of the most memorable movie soundtrack themes of past decades with their penultimate concert of the season, “The Best of John Williams.”

This “Pops!” concert in NSS’s 2017-2018 season came to Chico in Laxson Auditorium on Saturday to celebrate the best-known compositions of perhaps the most well-known film composer, John Williams. Williams is perhaps best known for his soundtracks for film franchises “Star Wars”, “Indiana Jones” and “Harry Potter”, among many.

Williams’ many musical collaborations with director Steven Spielberg, creating some of the most successful and beloved films of all time, were evident throughout this concert. Selections ranged from recognizable, iconic film themes such as a suite from “Harry Potter“, “Flying” from “E.T. The Extraterrestrial” and the theme from “Superman, to the somber, far more restrained themes from the films “Schindler’s List” and “Angela’s Ashes”. Most of the selections played were from films made by Spielberg, but NSS chose to focus on the sound and iconic style of Williams’ contributions to these popular films.

While Williams’ sound remains perhaps the most recognizable among film composers, these selections showcased lesser-known parts of his repertoire. Although sometimes brass-heavy with his fanfare themes (“Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “Star Wars”), Williams’ surprising versatility was highlighted in particular by a selection from the Spielberg film “Catch Me if You Can, that also showed off Seaton’s multitasking ability. Seaton played saxophone, accompanied by upright bass and xylophone, while simultaneously conducting the rest of the piece.

In between selections, conductor Scott Seaton made sure to make small introductions for the next segment. Love and appreciation warmed by decades of nostalgia associated with Williams’ music were clear. For examples of the themes about to played, Seaton mentioned how many times he would rewind videotape copies of “Jurassic Park” as a child, before performing a suite from the films. In the same manner, Seaton lovingly introduced the iconic themes for “Indiana Jones” and “Star Wars” for fans in the audience.

The NSS will conclude their season this spring with “As Fate Would Have It,” with performances in Redding and Chico on May 12-13. The concert will feature selections by classical composers Edward Elgar, Peter Tchaikovsky and Mikhail Glinka.

Natalie Hanson can be reached at [email protected] or NatalieH_Orion on Twitter.