Reviews: @ the Hollywood Bowl — John Williams and 'Blank Panther Live'

by Kevin Taft

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday September 14, 2021

John Williams conducting at the Hollywood Bowl
John Williams conducting at the Hollywood Bowl  (

The King of Movie Composers is back after a pandemic hiatus, and that means that all is finally right with the world.

John Williams, considered the composer of every great score of the last fifty years, took his rightful place on the legendary Hollywood stage to conduct some of the most famous — and favorite — compositions from his oeuvre.

As in the past, conductor and composer David Newman conducted the first half of the show, which featured scores and clips from such classics as "Lawrence of Arabia," "The Godfather," "Casablanca," and a tribute to Audrey Hepburn set to Williams' score to "Sabrina." The night opened with "Hooray for Hollywood," arranged by Williams, and before intermission all the wizard fans in the audience were treated to "Harry's Wondrous World" from "Harry Potter," also by Williams.

After a brief intermission, Williams took the stage to an instant standing ovation. He treated the almost sold-out audience to his usual tribute to the Olympics and an Overture to the Oscars.

Next, he paid homage to his friend and frequent collaborator Steven Spielberg and his often-overlooked fantasy film "The BFG," based on the Roald Dahl novel. Conducting a suite from the film called "A Child's Tale," the score was played over several clips from the film, opening up the beautiful film to a new audience.

As always, Williams dove into his scores for the "Indiana Jones" series playing the "Scherzo for Motorcycle and Orchestra" (a piece he felt was overshadowed by the sound effects for the finished sequence) and the beatific "Marion's Theme."

He ended his "official" portion of the night with selections from A Galaxy Far Far Away, with "The Adventures of Han" from "Solo: A Star Wars Story," "Yoda's Theme" from "The Empire Strikes Back," and "The Throne Room & Finale" from the one that started it all, "Star Wars: A New Hope."

But in typical William's fashion — and to appease his rabidly enthusiastic audience — he conducted the LA Philharmonic for two encores that included "Theme from Raiders of the Lost Ark," "The Imperial March" (which was punctuated by an entire Bowl audience waving lightsabers), and "Themes from E.T."

It was, as usual, a lovely way to end the night, and a thrill for fans young and old. The strains of his familiar themes have been felt by generations, and these touching moments are overwhelming in their nostalgia, emotion, and unbridled joy.

Here's to his return next year!

"John Williams: Maestro of the Movies" played the Hollywood Bowl Sept 4-6th, 2021. For information bout upcoming events and for tickets, visit

Chadwick Boseman in 'The Black Panther'
Chadwick Boseman in 'The Black Panther'  

Black Panther Live With Orchestra
With one of the most diverse summers yet, the Hollywood Bowl 2021 season began its final weeks with a three-night run of "Black Panther Live in Concert." Showing the now-iconic film on the big screen, as the LA Philharmonic and special guests played the score throughout the entire running time, the Bowl attracted young and old alike, celebrating the first Black Marvel Superhero lead to grace the silver screen. 
LA Philharmonic conductor Tom Wilkins led the orchestra through the soaring and bombastic score by Oscar (and Emmy)-winning composer Ludwig Goransson. The orchestra was joined by musicians Goransson worked with in Senegal, including Baaba Maal, whose soaring voice captured the exotic location of Wakanda and its people.
The film was introduced by Goransson himself, who then introduced the guest musicians, followed by a special appearance by Marvel Studios mastermind Kevin Feige. The man who oversees all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe pointed out that "Black Panther" is the first Marvel film to screen at the Hollywood Bowl, and a wonderful way to celebrate the performance of the star of the film, the late Chadwick Boseman.
It'll be interesting to see what films played live the Bowl will have in store for audiences next year. With "Black Panther" being packed for three solid nights, the sky's the limit for what feasts for the eyes and ears the Bowl will celebrate next!

"Black Panther Live with Orchestra" played the Hollywood Bowl September 10th — 12th. For information about upcoming events and for tickets, visit

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to 'Star Wars' and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg.