Star Wars on Stage
“I left my dressing room and went to the Paramount Theater’s lobby to check out what was going on. I had been in Charlottesville less than a year, so was glad to spot some new friends on their way in. I got a selfie with Darth Vader, and was so caught up in the buzzing energy in the lobby that I was almost late for the start of the show!” That was Benjamin Rous, Music Director of the Charlottesville Symphony at the University of Virginia, re-visiting favorite moments from the orchestra’s third annual Pops at the Paramount concert at the Paramount Theater on June 2, 2018.
This year’s program was titled The Best of John Williams. With 24 Grammy Award, seven British Academy Film Awards, five Academy Awards and four Golden Globe Awards, Williams is one of the most prolific and successful composers of film scores in the history of cinema. For this tribute performance, Rous chose music from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, E.T., Jaws, Superman, and Lincoln – all in the exact versions heard in the films, not altered for the concert hall.
The second half of the sold-out event featured greatest hits from the Star Wars series: The Force Awakens, The Empire Strikes Back, A New Hope, and one of the first performances anywhere of music from The Last Jedi.
Audience members were invited to weigh in on musical outtakes of the main theme from Star Wars that ended up on the “cutting room floor,” and guess which film score excerpts were originals by John Williams and which were famous classical music compositions that he turned to for inspiration.
Special guests included members of Garrison Tyranus, a Virginia unit of the fan-based 501stLegion that promotes interest in the Star Wars genre worldwide. Screen-accurate costumed characters greeted audience members and posed for photographs outside the Paramount Theater, capturing the attention of many passersby on the Downtown Mall. To quote Ben Rous again, “It was awesome to see the Symphony connect so strongly with downtown Charlottesville – we definitely found some brand-new fans of orchestral music that night!”
Pops at the Paramount was sponsored by the Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation, Wegmans, Roger and Donna Authers and the Paramount Theater. For more information about the Charlottesville Symphony at the University of Virginia, please visit www.cvillesymphony.org.