Photos: BSO honors legendary composer John Williams with star-studded 90th birthday celebration

The sold-out event featured selections from his iconic movie scores and performances by Yo-Yo Ma and James Taylor.

John Williams takes bow with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Hilary Scott

Tanglewood celebrated the 90th birthday of renowned composer and conductor John Williams with a grand concert Saturday night honoring his musical legacy.

The sold-out show featured performances by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, James Taylor, Branford Marsalis, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. 

John Williams and James Taylor hug. – Hilary Scott

“It’s wonderful to have been invited to be part of this evening honoring our beloved John Williams and to have a chance to say thank you for all that you have done for this community and for the world, really,” said Taylor before performing “Sweet Baby James” alongside Yo-Yo Ma. “I think that this generation, my generation, and several generations to come are really owing to you, in your debt, for our exposure to some of the most beautiful orchestral music that’s ever been made. You’re the man.”

Yo-Yo Ma and James Taylor perform. – Hilary Scott

More than 18,000 people attended the event, culminating with the crowd singing “Happy Birthday to You” to the legendary musician. Steven Spielberg, who has shared a nearly 50-year artistic collaboration with Wiliams, also offered a special video greeting. 


However, a particular evening highlight was when Williams conducted the “Raiders March” from the 1981 hit “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

John Williams conducts the BSO. – Hilary Scott

The iconic score is one of many recognizable feature film musical selections

Williams also composed scores for all nine Star Wars films and iconic films such as “Jurassic Park,” “Jaws,” “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” and many more.

Ken-David Masur conducts Branford Marsalis, J. William Hudgins and the BSO. – Hilary Scott

He served as Boston Pops Conductor from 1980 to 1993, and currently holds the titles Boston Pops Conductor Laureate and Tanglewood Artist-in-Residence. Williams has earned five Academy Awards and 52 Oscar nominations, making him the Academy’s most-nominated living person. 

Williams also wrote scores for several television series and themes for “NBC Nightly News,” NBC’s “Meet the Press” and PBS’s “Great Performances.”

Ken-David Masur conducts violinist Itzhak Perlman and the BSO. – Hilary Scott

His works for the concert stage include two symphonies, as well as concertos for violin, viola, cello, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, tuba, and harp.


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