Rei Hotoda
Rei Hotoda

The Santa Barbara Symphony’s next concerts, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 18, and 3 p.m. Sunday, March 19, will be given over entirely to a multimedia tribute to the film scores of composer John Williams.

The program is presented in partnership with The Granada Theatre, a part of the Granada Synergy Series. Guest conductor Rei Hotoda will lead the symphony, many of whose musicians have participated in recording these scores for the films themselves.

As we listen to the excerpts from Williams’ vast reservoir of film music, we will be watching, on the Granada’s big screen, appropriate excerpts from the films themselves.

Consider that Williams scored all these films: “Star Wars” and its sequels, the first three “Harry Potter” films, “E.T.,” “War of the Worlds,” “Jaws,” “Schindler’s List,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and its sequels, “Jurassic Park” and its sequels, “The Paper Chase,” “The Towering Inferno,” “Black Sunday,” and so on.

Then remind yourself that this represents a relatively small fraction of his overall output, and it is fairly easy to calculate that more humans have sat in a theater listening to Williams’ tunes than have listened to any other composer since th dawn of time, if not all the other composers, combined.

The role of music in the success, or disappearance, of a motion picture cannot be overemphasized. I once asked the late Elmer Bernstein if he had ever worked with a director who begged him to save his picture with the score.

“I hardly ever worked with one who didn’t,” said Bernstein, adding, “They were quite frank about it.”

And one of our greatest composers, George Antheil, scored some 30 films, including Stanley Kramer‘s “The Pride and the Passion,” a tremendous favorite of yours truly as an adolescent.

“If I say so myself,” said Antheil, “I’ve saved a couple of sure flops.”

The images carry the story, but the music tells us how to feel about it.

Tickets to the weekend concerts are $35-$175 and can be purchased in person at the Granada ticket office, 1214 State St., by phone at 805-899-2222, or online at

For more about the concerts, or about the Santa Barbara Symphony, visit