Name three film composers—the odds are good that you can't. Making music that conforms to the demands of film is one of the hardest jobs in the business, and yet for most members of the moviegoing public, knowing the names of even a few is a stretch. There's one name, though, that almost everyone knows: John Williams.
Among his many, many film credits are stone-cold classics like Jaws, Superman, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and, of course, the films from the Star Wars franchise. Williams' output is prolific, but his Boise-based fans are in for a rare treat. On Saturday, Sept. 22, the Boise Philharmonic will play the score of Star Wars: A New Hope alongside the film at one of Boise's most capacious venues, The Morrison Center. A New Hope is the fourth "episode" in the Star Wars series, but in 1977, it was the world's introduction to Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader. Their adventures have spurred the imaginations of generations of filmgoers, and their musical motifs have stuck in fans' heads for 41 years.
"By playing Star Wars and showing the movie along with the soundtrack, older people can come and share their love for Star Wars with a younger generation. Star Wars brings in all kinds of people. It's an almost universal kind of experience. Pun intended," said Anna Meacham, marketing director for the Boise Philharmonic.
The Boise Phil is always on the lookout for new audiences, and it struck gold in 2017 when it performed the score of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone alongside the film. Those events were so successful, the Phil already plans to perform to the second film in the series, but live film accompaniment is a tricky business. The Phil has brought in an expert to do the job: Ron Spigelman. He has a passion and a talent for navigating orchestras through film scores, having conducted the scores of Pirates of the Caribbean, Fantasia, The Wizard of Oz and more.
"He has experience conducting movies along with soundtracks. Star Wars is two, two and a half hours long. To know when the musical cues are coming, you have to be able to direct an 80-person orchestra with those cues," Meacham said. "It takes a lot of work."