When Stéphane Denève was 11 years old, he witnessed first-hand how music could stir the soul.
The young Stéphane, then a student in the north of France, saw Steven Spielberg’s E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial in the theater for the first time. It was there that Stéphane shed tears – not for the heartfelt story but in response to the stirring score, written by the legendary American composer John Williams.
Williams was in the middle of his monumental career, having already won three Academy Awards (for Fiddler on the Roof, Jaws, and Star Wars), while Stéphane had just begun his musical journey. Williams would go on to win an Academy Award for E.T. and would add his fifth win for Schindler’s List. Years later, in 2007, Stéphane met John Williams at Tanglewood when both were working there and an immediate friendship was born.
Stéphane and Williams have built a rapport based on mutual admiration and respect for each other’s musicality. Stéphane conducted a program of all John Williams film music in September 19, including a relatively-unknown selection from Dracula (1979) at the urging of Williams himself.
On Friday, November 1, the friends will share the podium in a special, one-night-only evening of incredible music with the SLSO celebrating the storied career of John Williams. Tickets go on sale Wednesday, September 25, at 11:00am. Purchase tickets at slso.org or by calling the Box Office at 314-534-1700.
Williams is a master of creating musical moods and cultures for a variety of different stories and settings – from the alien worlds of Star Wars to the deeply profound and moving narratives of War Horse and The Book Thief. Williams’ most beloved themes will be performed by the SLSO on November 1, with Stéphane conducting the first half of the concert and Williams conducting the second half.
Williams, 87, continues to compose film scores, and makes occasional appearances guest conducting orchestras. The November 1 concert will be a celebration of the man who forever changed the landscape of American cinema with his game-changing scores.
“He’s such a wonderful and inspiring man,” Stéphane said.
Following the November 1 concert, Stéphane and the SLSO will perform another of Williams’ work, his Concerto for Violin, November 2-3, with guest James Ehnes on violin.