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A Classical Special Concert

December 7, 2012, 8pm
December 8, 2012, 8pm
Copley Symphony Hall

John Williams, conductor
Johannes Moser, cello

WILLIAMS: Cello Concerto

America's foremost composer of popular film scores comes to Symphony Hall! John Williams wrote the music for Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Far and Away, Harry Potter, Schindler's List, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and more, all to be heard on these historic concerts performed by your San Diego Symphony!

Proceeds from this concert benefit the Musicians Pension Fund.

Please Note:

  • Student Rush tickets will not be available for "John Williams in Concert."
  • Due to Balboa Park's "December Nights" event December 7-8, please allow extra time to get downtown, and avoid Hwy. 163 if at all possible.


In a career that spans five decades, John Williams has become one of America’s most accomplished and successful composers for film and for the concert stage.  He has served as music director and laureate conductor of one of the country’s treasured musical institutions, the Boston Pops Orchestra, and he maintains thriving artistic relationships with many of the world’s great orchestras, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  Mr. Williams has received a variety of prestigious awards, including the National Medal of Arts, the Kennedy Center Honor, the Olympic Order, and numerous Academy Awards, Grammy® Awards, Emmy® Awards and Golden Globe® Awards.  He remains one of our nation’s most distinguished and contributive musical voices.

Mr. Williams has composed the music and served as music director for more than one hundred films.  His nearly 40-year artistic partnership with director Steven Spielberg has resulted in many of Hollywood’s most acclaimed and successful films, including Schindler’s List, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Jurassic Park, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the Indiana Jones films, Saving Private Ryan, Amistad, Munich, Hook, Catch Me If You Can, Minority Report, A.I. Artificial Intelligence and Empire of the Sun.  Their latest collaborations are The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, the World War I film War Horse and the just-released Lincoln.  Mr. Williams composed the scores for all six Star Wars films, the first three Harry Potter films, Superman, JFK, Born on the Fourth of July, Memoirs of a Geisha, Far and Away, The Accidental Tourist, Home Alone, Nixon, The Patriot, Angela’s Ashes, Seven Years in Tibet, The Witches of Eastwick, Rosewood, Sleepers, Sabrina, Presumed Innocent, The Cowboys, The Reivers and Goodbye, Mr. Chips among many others.  He has worked with many legendary directors, including Alfred Hitchcock, William Wyler and Robert Altman.  In 1971 he adapted the score for the film version of Fiddler on the Roof, for which he composed original violin cadenzas for renowned virtuoso Isaac Stern.  He has appeared on recordings as pianist and conductor with Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, Jessye Norman and others.  Mr. Williams has received five Academy Awards and 47 Oscar® nominations, making him the Academy’s most-nominated living person and the second-most nominated person in the history of the Oscars.  He also has received seven British Academy Awards (BAFTA), twenty-one Grammys®, four Golden Globes®, five Emmys® and numerous gold and platinum records.

Born and raised in New York, Mr. Williams moved to Los Angeles with his family in 1948, where he studied composition with Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco.  After service in the Air Force, he returned to New York to attend the Juilliard School, where he studied piano with Madame Rosina Lhevinne.  While in New York, he also worked as a jazz pianist, both in nightclubs and on recordings.  He returned to Los Angeles and began his career in the film industry, working with a number of accomplished composers including Bernard Herrmann, Alfred Newman and Franz Waxman.  He went on to write music for more than 200 television films for the groundbreaking, early anthology series Alcoa Theatre, Kraft Television Theatre, Chrysler Theatre and Playhouse 90.  His more recent contributions to television music include the well-known theme for NBC Nightly News (“The Mission”), the theme for what has become network television’s longest-running series, NBC’s Meet the Press, and a new theme for the prestigious PBS arts showcase Great Performances.

In addition to his activity in film and television, Mr. Williams has composed numerous works for the concert stage, among them two symphonies as well as concertos for flute, violin, clarinet, viola, oboe and tuba.  His cello concerto was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and premiered by Yo-Yo Ma at Tanglewood in 1994.  Mr. Williams also has filled commissions by several of the world’s leading orchestras, including a bassoon concerto for the New York Philharmonic entitled The Five Sacred Trees, a trumpet concerto for the Cleveland Orchestra and a horn concerto for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  Seven for Luck, a seven-piece song cycle for soprano and orchestra based on the texts of former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove, was premiered by the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood in 1998.  At the opening concert of their 2009-10 season, James Levine led the Boston Symphony in the premiere Mr. Williams’ On Willows and Birches, a new concerto for harp and orchestra. 

In January 1980 Mr. Williams was named the 19th music director of the Boston Pops Orchestra, succeeding the legendary Arthur Fiedler.  He currently holds the title of Boston Pops Laureate Conductor which he assumed following his retirement in December 1993, after 14 highly successful seasons.  He also holds the title of Artist-in-Residence at Tanglewood. 

One of America’s best known and most distinctive artistic voices, Mr. Williams has composed music for many important cultural and commemorative events.  Liberty Fanfare was composed for the rededication of the Statue of Liberty in 1986.  American Journey, written to celebrate the new millennium and to accompany the retrospective film The Unfinished Journey by director Steven Spielberg, was premiered at the “America’s Millennium” concert in Washington, D.C. on New Year’s Eve, 1999.  His orchestral work Soundings was performed at the celebratory opening of Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.  In the world of sports, he has contributed musical themes for the 1984, 1988 and 1996 Summer Olympic Games, the 2002 Winter Olympic Games and the 1987 International Summer Games of the Special Olympics.  In 2006 Mr. Williams composed the theme for NBC’s presentation of NFL Football.

Mr. Williams holds honorary degrees from 21 American universities, including The Juilliard School, Boston College, Northeastern University, Tufts University, Boston University, the New England Conservatory of Music, the University of Massachusetts at Boston, The Eastman School of Music, the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the University of Southern California.   He is a recipient of the 2009 National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists by the United States Government.  In 2003 he received the Olympic Order, the IOC’s highest honor, for his contributions to the Olympic movement.  He served as the Grand Marshal of the 2004 Rose Parade in Pasadena and was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honor in December of 2004. In January 2009 Mr. Williams composed and arranged Air and Simple Gifts especially for the inaugural ceremony of President Barack Obama. 


Praised for his rich, gorgeous tone and playing that can range from lovely and elegant, to vigorous with head-banging, rock star energy, German-Canadian cellist Johannes Moser has been called both “remarkable” by the Los Angeles Times and “greatly gifted” by the Chicago Tribune.  Johannes has performed with the world’s leading orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, London Symphony, Concertgebouw Orchestra, Bayerische Rundfunk Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, Tokyo Symphony and Israel Philharmonic.  He works regularly with conductors of the highest level including Riccardo Muti, Lorin Maazel, Mariss Jansons, Valery Gergiev, Zubin Mehta, Vladimir Jurowski, Franz Welser-Möst, Manfred Honeck, Christian Thielemann, Pierre Boulez and Paavo Jarvi.

The 2011-12 season opened with Johannes’s debut with the Berlin Philharmonic playing the Schumann concerto with Zubin Mehta who hand-selected Johannes to perform for his 50th Anniversary concert.  Johannes went on to perform the world premiere of Enrico Chapela’s Electric Cello Concerto Magnetar with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel in both Los Angeles and San Francisco. Other engagements included performances with the Bamberg Symphony, New World Symphony, Gurzenich Orchestra in Cologne, Atlanta and Dallas Symphony orchestras, the NDR Symphony Orchestra of Hannover, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and many international recitals and workshops including a lunchtime concert at London’s Wigmore Hall. He wrapped up the season by performing the Chapela Concerto with the Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo – who also took part in the commissioning of the work – under Marin Alsop. Johannes Moser appeared with several San Diego Symphony musicians last February in a Chamber Music Series concert at the (former) Neurosciences Institute.

Johannes has gained a reputation for his exquisite performances of lesser-known repertoire, much of it recorded on his extensive award-winning discography on Hänssler Classics.  His affinity for new music has brought him much attention from leading conductors such as Pierre Boulez, who invited him to make his U.S. debut with the Chicago Symphony on the Rands Cello Concerto.  Johannes is an enthusiastic advocate for the electric cello, which he uses to explore new possibilities in sound as well as for improvisation. In addition to the Chapela premiere last season, Johannes premiered the Electric Cello Concerto by French composer Fabrice Bollon in 2011 and is constantly striving to inspire contemporary composers to write for the instrument.

Johannes is committed to reaching out to young audiences, from kindergarten to college and beyond. From his 2010 American tour with toy pianist Phyllis Chen “Sounding Off: A Fresh Look at Classical Music,” to outreach activities on campuses and performances in alternative venues, Johannes aims to present classical music in terms with which young adults can connect.

A dedicated chamber musician, Johannes has played with Joshua Bell, Emanuel Ax, Leonidas Kavakos, Menahem Pressler, James Ehnes, Midori and Jonathan Biss.

Johannes has received two ECHO Klassik awards and the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik for his recordings on Hänssler Classics.  His concerto debut disc, which features the complete works of Saint-Saëns for cello and orchestra with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, was honored as one of Classics Today’s Top 10 CDs of 2008.  His next concerto album of the Britten Cello Symphony and the Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 with WDR Cologne and Pietari Inkinen was released in January 2012.

Born into a musical family in 1979 as a dual citizen of Germany and Canada, Johannes began studying the cello at the age of eight and became a student of Professor David Geringas in 1997.  He was the top prize winner at the 2002 Tchaikovsky Competition, in addition to being awarded the Special Prize for his interpretation of the Rococo Variations.

A voracious reader of everything from Kafka to Collins, and an avid outdoorsman, New York-based Johannes Moser climbs mountains in his free time and has recently crossed the Alps on his mountain bike.

Johannes Moser plays on an Andrea Guaneri cello, built in 1694 on loan to him from a private collector.

December 7, 2012

Online sales for this performance have now been discontinued. Please call the Ticket Office at 619.235.0804.

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