LENOX, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Tanglewood celebrated John Williams' 90th birthday with a musical program of some of his most prominent film and concert scores Saturday evening. To end the birthday celebration, Boston Symphony Orchestra performed a rendition of "Happy Birthday" to Williams while the audience of 18,000 people sang along.
Williams was the guest of honor for the concert featuring musicians Yo-Yo Ma, James Taylor, Branford Marsalis, Eric Revis, and Boston Symphony Orchestra members Will Hudgins and Jessica Zhou, according to a spokesperson for the BSO.
The celebration featured music from some of his most recognizable scores including “Throne Room & Finale from Star Wars: A New Hope” and the “Superman March.” Several of Williams’ concert works, including "Highwood’s Ghost," a work he composed for the BSO as a part of the annual Tanglewood Leonard Bernstein Memorial Concert in 2018, was also performed at the celebration. Other notable performances included James Taylor performing "Getting to Know You" from "The King and I" and accompaniment from Yo-Yo Ma for "Sweet Baby James".
There were also musical tributes to Seiji Ozawa and Leonard Bernstein at the event, as they are prominent Tanglewood figures who played a role in inspiring some of Williams’ work.
In 1980, Williams was named the nineteenth conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra, succeeding Arthur Fiedler. He holds the title of George and Roberta Berry Boston Pops Conductor Laureate, which he received when he decided to retire in 1993 after 14 seasons. Williams also holds the title of Artist-in-Residence at Tanglewood. During his career spanning six decades, he composed scores for all nine of the Star Wars films, the first three Harry Potter films, Superman, and many other notable film soundtracks.
Williams had an artistic partnership with director Steven Spielberg allowing him to score many of Spielberg's acclaimed films such as "Jaws," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial," "Jurassic Park," "Schindler’s List," "Saving Private Ryan," "Munich," and "Lincoln," according to the non-profit website The Legacy of John Williams.
Over the span of his career, Williams has been nominated for 52 Academy Awards and won five Oscars.