Review: Cincinnati Pops celebrates John Williams’ 90th birthday, with film scores

Posted on: February 8, 2022

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Principal Guest Conductor Damon Gupton leads the Cincinnati Pops in a 90th-birthday tribute concert for composer John Williams at Music Hall, February 5, 2022. Photo: Charlie Balcom

“No other composer has created the sound for America’s most iconic movies of the last half century so prolifically and creatively as [John] Williams, who turns 90 on Feb. 8,” writes Janelle Gelfand in Sunday’s (2/6) Cincinnati Business Courier. “What … impressed me in the Cincinnati Pops’ 90th-birthday celebration of Williams’ music, led with finesse by [Principal Guest Conductor] Damon Gupton, was the skill and elegance of Williams’ writing…. The Pops’ performances of these gems were imaginative, bold and thrillingly precise…. For the program, Gupton focused on Williams’ 40-year partnership with director Steven Spielberg, in movies ranging from ‘Jaws’ to ‘E.T.–the Extra-Terrestrial.’ … The brass and percussion sections were spotlighted in Williams’ galvanizing marches (including one from ‘1941’) and those terrific fanfares. Several orchestral soloists shone throughout the evening, including principal hornist Elizabeth Freimuth in the noble theme from ‘Jurassic Park.’ Principal clarinetist Christopher Pell, joined by violinist Sylvia Mitchell on accordion, impressed in ‘Viktor’s Tale’ from ‘The Terminal.’ … Principal oboist Dwight Parry was the soloist in the ‘Love Theme’ from ‘Superman,’ a gentle tune accompanied by fluttering flutes…. ‘With Malice Toward None’ from ‘Lincoln’ … included a cello solo, radiantly performed by principal cellist Ilya Finkelshteyn.”