Stéphane Denève – a Close Encounter of the Third Kind with John Williams
Tanglewood on Parade, on August 6th, will see Stéphane once again share the stage with the Conductor Laureate of the Boston Pops and Hollywood’s most celebrated composer, John Williams. With 48 Oscar nominations and a career spanning six decades, there must be few people on earth who have not heard some music by this man!
This is their third encounter! Denève first met Williams at the Walt Disney Hall, Los Angeles in 2009. They met again, and even shared the stage, in Tanglewood last year as part of the Festival’s 75th Anniversary celebrations. For Stéphane, meeting and sharing the stage with one of his musical heroes was ‘a dream come true’. He says, ‘I have such admiration for John Williams. When I first met him in L.A. it was an unbelievable emotion, I love and respect his music so much – in fact, the first time I ever cried in a movie theater was when E.T. was released and it was certainly thanks to his music!’.
He recounts one of their conversations: ‘John told me a wonderful thing which I will never forget:
when I asked him if he was immediately able to recognise the power of his famous, genius melodies, he said with humility that he didn’t really, but that when he wrote these themes, he did have the feeling that they were already there – already in existence in the world. He described himself almost as an ‘archaeologist’ – he only ‘revealed’ those melodies! It is, of course, a wonderfully modest answer, as is becoming of this very sweet and elegant man.’
You can hear John Williams return the compliment to Stéphane minutes in this short radio interview (at around 8:40-10:35) on WAMC Radio, recorded during Tanglewood last year.
(And, by the way, Stéphane also dropped in with WAMC Radio on the day of his Tanglewood debut last year. You can listen here!)