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CBSO: Friday Night Classics: John Williams Blockbusters (Birmingham)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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The Symphony Hall, home of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) provides a superb setting for the grandeur of a 90-piece ensemble. The concert, presented by Tommy Pearson and conducted by Dirk Brossé features the music of John Williams, the Academy Award winning artist considered one of the greatest film composers of all time.

The evening opens with impact with "Raiders March" from Raiders of the Lost Ark. There is something hair-raising about the build of an orchestra and the CBSO waste no time in showcasing their capabilities. The neoromanticism of Williams' compositions has the ability to take us on an uplifting and empowering emotional journey within minutes.

I am overjoyed to hear the main title from one of my favourite films: Jurassic Park. With both care and ease the CBSO reflect the awe and beauty of dinosaurs. The composition demonstrates Williams' incredible genius; a God given ability to write music which mirrors its subject to a degree of perfection.

With such a strong start, I question whether the pieces that are to follow can make such an impact. I need not worry. The evening almost entirely features music from the motion pictures of Steven Spielberg with whom Williams has a long association. The strength of this alliance is evident, a destined partnership that has spanned the decades and never once lost momentum.

As audience members' tweets are read, those on stage break into a foot stamping applause; it's inspiring to see the orchestra enthused about bringing their craft to a new audience.

The lights of the hall are simple yet effective; we are transported to alternative worlds we have come to know so well through the magic of cinema. We hear pieces from War Horse, Harry Potter, Hook, and Jaws before a roaring climax with what will undoubtedly define Williams' legacy, the music of Star Wars. The characters fabricate before our very eyes; materialising from the infamous sounds he has bestowed upon them. To them Williams has given the gift of immortality.

The night also plays testament to Colin Lilley's (second flute) retirement who reveals himself as Superman in appropriate hidden attire. With an encore of the "Main Title" from the 1978 film the orchestra show that despite limited rehearsal time their end product is always perfection.

The CBSO are a tour de force not to be reckoned with, and if you have not done so already, I highly recommend experiencing them live in concert. The evening has been the most remarkable journey, and not one I will soon forget.

- Jenna Harvey