Hear music from Star Wars, Harry Potter and more at Grand Rapids Pops

Media Contact:
Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk
Grand Rapids Symphony
616.454.9451 x 139

GRAND RAPIDS, MI., April 20, 2016 – Ask anyone to name any composer of film music, and the first name that’ll come to mind almost certainly will be John Williams.

Who can forget the soaring trumpet that kicked off the main theme from Star Wars or the mysterious opening motto that launched the series of films that introduced Harry Potter and his friends, Ron and Hermione, to the world?

Five Academy Awards and 50 Oscar nominations in all, not to mention 17 Grammy Awards, have made John Williams the film composer of choice for many of the biggest blockbusters of the past four decades.

Your Grand Rapids Symphony closes its 2015-16 Fox Motors Pops Series with Star Wars & More: The Music of John Williams, led by Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt.

“It’s going to be fun from start to finish, and you know the music is going to be brilliant,” Bernhardt said.

Three performances will be held at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 6-7, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 8, in DeVos Performance Hall, 303 Monroe Ave. NW. Series sponsor is Fox Motors, and the concert sponsor is Huntington Bank. Guest artist sponsor is Carter Products.

Tickets start at $18 adults, $5 students. Call the Grand Rapids Symphony at (616) 454-9451. Tickets also are available from Ticketmaster outlets or Ticketmaster.com

The Grand Rapids Pops, which will be among the first orchestras in the world next season to screen the full-length film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone™ with live music, also will be among the first to perform John Williams’ Suite from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the latest film the “Star Wars” series.

Highlights from films including Superman, Saving Private Ryan and Amistad are among a dozen different films on the program along with “Sayuri’s Theme” from Memoirs of a Geisha and “Flight to Neverland” from "Hook."

“One of my favorite pieces from the movie “Hook” with Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman,” Bernhardt said. “A great movie.”

Guest violinist Benny Kim joins the Grand Rapids Symphony as soloist in music including the main theme from Schindler’s List, one of the five films that have earned Williams the Oscar for Best Original Film Score.

The Fox Motors Pops concerts feature music from three movies starring Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia and Darth Vader including the original 1977 film Star Wars and the 1999 film Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

From the 2015 film The Force Awakens, Episode VII of the Star Wars franchise, the Grand Rapids Symphony will play “Rey’s Theme” and the “March of the Resistance.”

“It’s among the most fun concerts I get to do in my life,” said Bernhardt, who is in his 34th consecutive season with the Louisville Orchestra and his 19th season there as principal pops conductor. 

Music from E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial,™ Williams’ third Oscar winner for Best Original Score, won’t be on the program, but the Grand Rapids Pops next season will screen the full-length movie with live music.

Williams, music director of the Boston Pops from 1980 to 1993, personally arranged highlights from the movie, a practice the native of New York has been following for the past three decades.

Bernhardt, a native of Rochester, New York, who joined the Grand Rapids Symphony in January 2015, has been a longtime guest conductor of the Boston Pops, hired by Williams himself.

“He’s my hero,” Bernhardt said.

Fun Facts about John Williams:

Most Oscar nominations (50) in Academy Award history
Four of Williams’ five Oscars are for Best Original Score. His first was for Best Scoring Adaptation for the 1972 film version of Fiddler on the Roof
Williams played the famous piano riff on the original recording of Henry Mancini’s Theme to Peter Gunn
Father of Joseph Williams, former lead singer for Toto
Composed music for such TV shows as Gilligan’s Island and Lost in Space and for such made-for-TV movies as The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno.
Composed and conducted Summon the Heroes for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and Call of the Champions for the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics.


Tickets start at $18 and are available at the GRS box office, weekdays 9 am-5 pm at 300 Ottawa Ave. NW, Suite 100, (located across from the Calder Plaza), or by calling 616.454.9451 x 4. (Phone orders will be charged a $2 per ticket service fee, with a $12 maximum.) 

Tickets are available at the DeVos Place box office, weekdays 10 am - 6 pm or on the day of the concert beginning two hours prior to the performance. Tickets also may be purchased through Ticketmaster at 800.982.2787, online at GRSymphony.org or in person at Ticketmaster outlets at select D&W Fresh Markets, Family Fare Stores and Walmart. Tickets purchased at these locations will include a Ticketmaster service fee. 

Full-time students of any age are able to purchase tickets for only $5 on the night of the concert by enrolling in the GRS Student Passport program. This is a MySymphony360 eligible concert.

About the Grand Rapids Symphony

Organized in 1930, the Grand Rapids Symphony is nationally recognized for the quality of its concerts and educational programs. Led by Music Advisor Larry Rachleff, Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt and Associate Conductor John Varineau, nine concert series are presented, featuring a wide range of music and performance styles. More than 400 performances are given each year, touching the lives of some 200,000, nearly half of whom are students, senior citizens and people with disabilities all reached through extensive education and community service programs. Affiliated organizations include the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus; Grand Rapids Youth Symphony and Classical Orchestra; and Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Choruses. GRS sponsors the biennial Grand Rapids Bach Festival and provides the orchestra for performances by Opera Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids Ballet. To learn more about the Grand Rapids Symphony, please visit the Grand Rapids Symphony’s website, GRSymphony.org.

This activity is supported in part by an award from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.