Last Sunday, June 25, a concert dedicated to the music of John Williams was held in the courtyards of the Castello Sforzesco in Milan, Italy, performed by the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano conducted by the composer, pianist, and great connoisseur of Williams’ work, Simone Pedroni (read more).
Our good friend Massimo Privitera, responsible for the prestigious website ColonneSonore.net, an absolute reference in Italy regarding film music, attended the concert and brings us this summary article, in a special collaboration with SoundTrackFest.
NOTE: You can read the original article in Italian here.
Report on the concert of the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano/Milan Symphony Orchestra held at the Castello Sforzesco on June 25, 2023.
If you read on the poster “Simone Pedroni performs or conducts John Williams”, you can be sure that it will not be the usual concert about the five-time Oscar-winning composer, who more than any other of his colleagues of the Octave Art – only the late Ennio Morricone is on the same pedestal of international fame – has managed to forge the global imaginary of moviegoers and non-filmgoers.
Simone Pedroni, besides being a magnificent pianist and conductor known worldwide, is one of the number 1 fans of the American composer (promotion 1932), a splendid 91-year-old man who’s still active – his latest score, that of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny will soon be released in theaters – which implies a dedication on the part of the 55-year-old musician born in Novara that few others have had and have today to bring to concert the music of the father of Jaws, E.T., Schindler’s List, and The Fabelmans.
Pedroni, with all the passion that has always characterized him -and that we have met, interviewed, and reviewed many times in our web pages- always finds in his concert programs the way to include some theme or suite that few others (or nobody) have decided to perform live -probably only his Creator-. Because it is easier (although there is nothing simple to perform in Williams’ music, as you know) and safer, to turn to classics already widely surpassed and repeated thousands of times -even by Williams (see the highly acclaimed concert at La Scala in Milan on December 12, 2022 with the first time of the American composer in our beautiful country, with the only novelty of ‘Helena’s Theme’ from Indiana Jones 5)- to please his numerous fans.
The pianist from Novara, on the other hand, knows how to please the williamsian proselytes, and first of all himself, inserting some leitmotifs that the neophytes or the clueless will find difficult to recognize at first, but that the enthusiastic connoisseurs, like the one who writes this, will like and will constitute a real motivation to go immediately to buy a ticket for the concert. The superlative performance of the celebrated Milan Symphony Orchestra in the always evocative and magical setting of the Milanese Castello Sforzesco, within the cycle of concerts and shows of the “Estate Sforzesca” offered to us every summer by the Municipality of Lombardy, with sold-out tickets, brought to the “hungry” ears of an attentive and festively delighted audience an intelligent and imaginative selection, though challenged (or annoyed) by an incessant flight of swallows with their enthusiastic garters (perhaps because these birds are also ardent John Williams fans), the incessant noise of the fountain, and a constant but subdued buzzing of same spectators, as well as the usual less-than-excellent sound service that sometimes squawked and sometimes made the string section prevail over the woodwind, hindering not a little the orchestral peaks and counterpoints of pieces like those taken from Star Wars or Raiders of the Lost Ark, first and foremost.
So, aside from this unimportant flaw, Pedroni, with his convincing and fulminating expressiveness and his passion in conducting an always galvanizing ensemble, made us feel once again part of a galaxy far, far away with “Across the Stars” from Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, “The Throne Room and End Title” from Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, “The Forest Battle” (first encore, granted to celebrate the film’s 40th anniversary which falls this year) from Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi and the inescapable (and eagerly awaited by some anxious viewers) “Imperial March” from Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (second encore). Exceptional immersion in Hogwarts with “Hedwig’s Theme” from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, face to face with dinosaurs with “Main Theme” from Jurassic Park, archetypal adventurers in love with “Marion’s Theme” and “Raiders March” from Raiders of the Lost Ark, children rescuing an ugly but lovable alien from eternal shock with “Adventures on Earth” from E. T., young cowboys as in every self-respecting kid’s childhood games with the “Overture”, majestic between adventurous romanticism and frontier epic, taken from 1972’s The Cowboys directed by Mark Rydell and starring John Wayne, Mephistophelian pranksters in love with three bewitching ladies of indescribable beauty with the sarabande of “Devil’s Dance” from 1987’s The Witches of Eastwick directed by George Miller, starring Jack Nicholson, Cher, Susan Sarandon, and Michelle Pfeiffer, and Vietnam veterans with disabilities and a lot of honor in their guts with 1989’s elegiac and moving ‘Born on the Fourth of July’ directed by Oliver Stone starring Tom Cruise.
Dear Pedroni, thank you for the notes on the music of John Williams that you have made us (re)love, and until next time. Perhaps with some other tidbit that Spielberg’s composer hasn’t performed in concert for years, or perhaps that he’s never thought of performing.
Article and pictures by Massimo Privitera