Review: John Williams, Boston Pops bring 'Star Wars' universe to stormy Tanglewood

Richard Kaufman
Mass Live

John Williams returned to Tanglewood on Saturday night and The Force was strong with the music legend.

Williams, Hollywood's most honored composer (five Oscars, 22 Grammys and the American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award), had missed Film Night last summer due to a back injury. But the 84-year-old returned on a sweltering and stormy summer night to lead the Boston Pops through some of the most memorable pieces he has written for the "Star Wars" films.

Veteran pops conductor Richard Kaufman of Orange County, California's Pacific Symphony presided over the first half of the evening.

"Welcome to the Tanglewood Music Center and Sauna," he told the throng that packed the shed and filled the lawn at the start of an oppressively humid night.

Kaufman recalled his years as a young violinist in the fellowship program at Tanglewood and playing on the Williams scores for "Jaws" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."

Not surprising, the Kaufman-led set – entitled "Up, Up and Away: The Movies Take Flight" – was heavy with Williams classics: "Flying Theme from E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial," "Flight to Neverland" from the movie "Hook" and the "Superman March" and "Love Theme" from Richard Donner's "Superman."

A welcome treat was the inclusion of the seldom heard "Flight and Technology," written by Williams for Steven Spielberg's New Year's Eve 2000 multimedia presentation "The Unfinished Journey."

Some vintage, non-Williams compositions rounded out the first half – John Barry's lush "Flying Over Africa" from "Out of Africa," Fran Waxman's lilting "Ireland" from "The Spirit of St. Louis" and Henry Mancini's rousing "March from The Great Waldo Pepper."

Read the rest of the review here