It seems like all of Maine feels the mysterious excitement of the approaching total solar eclipse. The path will cross the state on the afternoon of Monday, April 8 and thousands are making plans to head north to experience totality.

Included in the preparation for the rare phenomenon is Portland Symphony Orchestra. To set the mood for this interstellar event, the PSO will perform a POPS! concert on Saturday, April 6, and Sunday, April 7 to honor the prolific American composer, John Williams, who is known for his bombastic, eerie and nostalgic compositions for film and TV.

“For over 50 years John Williams has created some of the most iconic movie scores in music history and has elevated the genre to new heights,” said PSO Music Director Eckart Preu. “He uses the colors of a large symphony orchestra to create the most diverse musical worlds of drama, mystery and magic. His music goes far beyond a mere illustration of the action on screen. It describes feelings of the characters, their innermost emotions; it focuses on the humanity of the stories.”

A longtime collaborator of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, Williams has composed some of the most recognizable film scores and themes of the last 50 years, including “Star Wars,” “Jurassic Park,” and the Harry Potter movies. His emotional compositions have also shaped American sports, from “Wide Receiver,” the NBC Sunday Night Football theme since 2006, to the 1985 Olympic Fanfare that has become the standard for American broadcasts of the games.

“Performing the music of John Williams always leaves one in awe,” said Bill Rounds, PSO cellist.  “He is without a doubt a genius musical craftsman. At the root of that, in my opinion, is the most important thing: there is always a simple but profound core emotion or truth that Maestro Williams’ music powerfully evokes, that makes us feel that what we are seeing on the screen is really happening. From the primal terror of the Jaws theme to the poignant Schindler’s List to all the incredible character leitmotifs in Indiana Jones and the Star Wars saga, we truly live the experience.”

Williams’s music is so exciting to play that the orchestra will also be performing a live soundtrack to a screening of “Star Wars: A New Hope” during the weekend of May 3 and May 4 in 2025, which is a semi-official Star Wars holiday. (Get it? “May the Fourth be with you…”)

Whether you make it a few hours north of Cumberland County on April 8 or not, the communal experience of the orchestral concert hall is an everyday way to explore the profound universe within and around us.


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