What immortality looks like

Every year, except once I think, since moving to LA in 2005 I’ve attended John Williams at the Hollywood Bowl. At first it was fun but quickly expanded beyond fun and started to become the closest thing in my life to an annual religious experience.

Usually the shows begin with some sort of themed look at non-Williams music. Last night included an extended salute to Paramount; in years past it was celebrating the collaboration of Blake Edwards and Henry Mancini, or the great film adaptations of Broadway musicals, etc. It was IMPOSSIBLE to not be inspired. It was an annual reminder why I’ve dedicated my life to this art form.

This particular montage, first created in 2002 by the amazing Conrad Pope, was one such highlight:

But beyond Williams’ music having a central role in most of my childhood and development as a composer, I found myself increasingly in awe at how far the reach of it had become. This what really gets me:

Every year I see people in their 30s and 40s, who obviously grew up on the likes of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jaws, ET, etc bringing their kids in the hope of a shared bonding experience. They’re using the MUSIC as a way to build on their own childhood memories, while creating childhood memories for their kids. Seeing this (lightsaber in hand, quite literal) passing of the torch unfailingly brings me to tears. I look at a kid, far too young to have seen any of these films, and yet having a seminal, joyous childhood moment in celebrating them. It’s something they’ll carry with them forever, long past Williams or anyone else involved in those films.

I always feel overwhelmed because when I come to John Williams, I look at the families around me and I think THIS IS WHAT IMMORTALITY LOOKS LIKE.

Last night, as if on cue and knowing *exactly* why I love coming, a family with a little boy Obi-Wan and a little girl Leia (ages 5 and 7) sat directly in front of me and I couldn’t have asked for a better night.

As a final comment, I should mention that my own father is who introduced me to all those movies and scores. We shared those experiences, from our home in Denver, while I was growing up. In 2014, he and my mother came to LA and we went to the Bowl for the annual Williams show with some of my friends. It was a wonderful homecoming of sorts, sharing as adults in this tradition I’d come to love amongst children around me.

I lost my dad just a couple months after that, rather unexpectedly. So now when I go, even though there is a tinge of mixed emotions through it all, the real power of seeing the parent/child bonding over music and storytelling reminds me of him. How lucky I am. How lucky these kids are for seeing this. And that’s fantastic.

My father, Terry Wintory, is in the back in the pink (!) shirt

#starwars #movies #music #johnwilliams #childhood

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(c) 2020 Austin Wintory. All rights reserved.