John Williams’s Journey into the Concert Hall

A chronological overview of the Maestro’s early works for the concert hall in the 1960s and 1970s, including his almost-unknown Symphony No. 1

by Maurizio Caschetto

JohnWilliams_late1960s_02
A portrait of John Williams from the late 1960s

The term “film composer” might be useful when referring to the work and career of John Williams. But, in his case, it would be also extremely reductive. While it’s true that the Maestro dedicated much of his artistic life to work for the Hollywood film industry, he has always showed a great deal of versatility, typical of musicians who don’t limit themselves just to one single area. Pianist, jazzman, arranger and, in the end, composer of works for films and the concert stage, Williams diversified his artistic output since the early days of his professional career, exploring different sides of his musical personality. Looking at him this way, it can be said without being proven wrong that he perfectly embodies the creative breadth of the 20th century composer and musician.

Continue reading “John Williams’s Journey into the Concert Hall”

Up close and personal: Conversation with pianist Gloria Cheng

Gloria Cheng
Gloria Cheng (Photo by Lefteris Padavos)

American pianist Gloria Cheng is one of the world’s leading instrumentalist who crossed musical boundaries and brought her own art to a wide variety of genres and styles. Over the years she specialized in contemporary classical repertoire and championed the music of a wide variety of composers who wrote pieces specifically for her, including John Adams, Pierre Boulez, Gavin Bryars, John Harbison, Joan Huang, William Kraft, Veronika Krausas, Magnus Lindberg, Terry Riley and Steven Stucky, among many others.

Gloria Cheng also works in the Los Angeles music scene as one of the most-requested session players for film music recordings. She performed virtuoso parts on the score for The Matrix (1999), composed by Don Davis. Then in 2005 she caught the attention of John Williams, when the composer asked her to perform a piano solo part for the end credits piece on the score of Steven Spielberg’s Munich. In 2011, Williams again gave Cheng a prominent part, a virtuosic solo piano on the score for The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn in the track called “Snowy’s Theme”:

Continue reading “Up close and personal: Conversation with pianist Gloria Cheng”