ROCHESTER, NY A bit of Hollywood comes to Rochester later this month when John Williams, the Oscar- and Grammy Award-winning musician best known for composing the music for many of the biggest films in movie history, pays a visit to the Eastman School of Music. He will guest conduct the Schools premier orchestra, the Eastman Philharmonia, in a special concert of his own music at 3 p.m., Sunday, April 29, in Eastman Theatre (60 Gibbs St.).
The all-Williams program will include a wide variety of his film music including the theme to Angelas Ashes, winner of the 2000 Grammy Award for best instrumental composition, and The Reivers, his Oscar-nominated work for the 1969 Southern coming-of-age movie. At Williams request, former U.S. Senator Alan Simpson (R-Wyoming) will provide the narration for this work.
"Its a tremendous honor to have John Williams visit Eastman, and an incredible opportunity for our students to perform his internationally recognized music under his direction," said Eastman Director James Undercofler. "His music has a remarkable, diverse reach."
"Were equally honored to have former Senator Simpson involved in the program," he added. "Its evidence of the power of John Williams music."
At the concert, Williams will receive an honorary doctoral degree from the Eastman School in recognition of his many achievements in the music world. While visiting the School, he also will lead a symposium for student composers.
Born in New York, Williams moved in 1948 to Los Angeles, where he eventually began his career in the film industry. He initially wrote music for many television programs in the 1960s, winning two Emmy Awards for his work. Since then, he has composed the music and served as music director for more than 80 films including the Star Wars trilogy, the Indiana Jones trilogy, Superman, Jaws, Home Alone, Presumed Innocent, JFK, and more recent films such as Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan, Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, and The Patriot. Williams has been nominated for 39 Academy Awards making him the most nominated living person and has won five of them. He also has been awarded 18 Grammys, three Golden Globes, one British Academy Award, and numerous gold and platinum records. His soundtrack album Star Wars has sold more than four million copies, making it one of the most successful non-pop albums in recording history.
In addition to his work in the film industry, Williams has written two symphonies and several concerti, including a cello concerto premiered by Yo-Yo Ma and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
From 1980-1993, he was the conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra, and now holds the title of laureate conductor. The recipient of several honorary degrees, he also is an artist-in-residence at Tanglewood.
Williams visit to Eastman is being spearheaded by Donald Hunsberger, professor of conducting and ensembles. Interestingly, the initial connection between Williams and the Eastman School began in 1970 shortly after Hunsberger and the Eastman Wind Ensemble recorded Williams Sinfonietta for Wind Ensemble for Deutsche Gramophone (DGG). The recording received positive critical reviews, and the School then commissioned Williams to compose a work for Hunsberger and the Wind Ensemble for Eastman’s 50th anniversary celebration (1971-72). Williams came to Rochester and participated in a preparatory rehearsal for the work, titled A Nostalgic Jazz Odyssey, which was premiered on April 6, 1972, in the Eastman Theatre.
General admission tickets to the concert are $8 (free to University of Rochester faculty, staff, and students with ID) and are available in advance at Ticket Express, 100 East Ave., or by calling 222-5000. Any remaining tickets will be available at the Theatre box office one hour before the start of the concert.
Note to editors: A complete bio and color photographs of John Williams are available.