Happy Birthday, Maestro John Williams!

Maestro John Williams with Music Director Carl St.Clair.

In the 1980s, Carl St.Clair was an assistant conductor to Music Director Seiji Ozawa at the Boston Symphony Orchestra while John Williams was conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra. St.Clair wasn’t even aware of the Orange County-based orchestra until Williams came back from a guest conducting trip in Spring 1989, told him that the orchestra was looking for a music director, encouraged his colleague to apply and put in a good word for him with management. St.Clair flew out to Southern California in Jan. 1990 and the rest, as they say, is history.  

2022 is a milestone year. Not only are we celebrating Maestro Williams’ 90th birthday, but it also marks the 70th anniversary of the first film score he ever worked on after he was reassigned to the 596th Air Force Band at Pepperell in Newfoundland, Canada. The short film was called “You Are Welcome.” You can learn more about that story here. Since then, he has become one of the world’s most beloved composers and artistic leaders.  

Even though it has been a while since Maestro Williams has been on the podium at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, his impact is still felt today. His work continues to be an important part of our programming. Whether that’s in the concert hall, at one of our summer venues or as part of one of our education and community engagement programs. He was previously the Class Act Composer of the Year for a couple of seasons.

Did you know that several Pacific Symphony musicians have been a part of several of Williams’ original soundtrack recordings as well? You can hear Principal Tuba Jim Self on The Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Home Alone and Principal Trumpet Barry Perkins and Principal Flute Benjamin Smolen on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, for example. Principal Pops Conductor Richard Kaufman also met Williams for the first time while working on Jaws as a violinist 

Later this month, we’re excited to invite you and your family to our next Family Musical Mornings concerts, Feb. 19. This superhero-themed performance is a fun and fascinating 45-minute concert designed especially for children 5-11. Williams’ Liberty Fanfare and March from Superman are featured in the program. Pacific Symphony will also be joined by Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra in this very special side-by-side performance. They will be led by Assistant Conductor Dr. Jacob Sustaita.  

Kids can come dressed as their favorite superhero. To learn more about the show and get tickets, please click here. To learn more about our commitment to the safety of our audiences, please click here. 

We know it’s hard, but if you had to choose, what’s your favorite John Williams’ piece? Let us know in the comments below! Happy birthday, Maestro!  

1 thought on “Happy Birthday, Maestro John Williams!

  1. i know it’s just all too obvious to say “Star Wars: A New Hope”, but it’s entwined in my heart, *always*. Music encourages the soaring of the spirit (even ‘sad’ music, i think), and when I hear Williams’ score for “New Hope”, all the feels are in play. In fact, I don’t need to see the film. In hearing the music, all I need remember and know of one of my favorite movies reaches out to me, holds me breathless again. So many gorgeous and textured layers in all of Williams’ score. But this one is (to me) as old as the beginning of time and as young (and hopeful) as a new Spring. Happy Birthday, Maestro. (and happy birthday to your fans, the beneficiaries of your coming to this little blue marble-y place)

Leave a Reply