Students Encouraged to Participate in Upcoming John Williams Tribute



Oklahoma City—Some of the most iconic moments in movie music have come from composer John Williams. Now your Oklahoma City Philharmonic celebrates Williams with our first Chickasaw Nation Pops concert, “Happy 90th, John Williams.” It will be presented Friday & Saturday, Nov. 4 & 5 at 8 p.m. at Civic Center Music Hall.


Golden Globe-nominated composer Brian Byrne is conducting and arranging the Williams tribute and has created an idea to get a younger generation involved.


“I always try to make orchestral shows fun and inspiring for all ages,” Byrne said. “I try to imagine myself in the audience as a kid or an audience member and imagine what it is that might inspire me. This is my first show with the OKCPHIL so I want to try to connect with the local audience in a meaningful way.”


Orchestras all over the world are celebrating Williams 90th birthday, so Byrne said he wants to make this show unique to Oklahoma.


“I thought it would be a fun idea to encourage kids of all ages to draw or paint some of the famous characters from movies that John Williams scored,” Byrne added. “And they might get to see their artwork on a giant screen as the OKCPHIL plays Williams’ amazing music. A lot of these characters are fantastical or superheroes, so it lends itself to engaging young kid’s imaginations.”


Williams' work includes films like E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Indiana Jones, and of course films from the Star Wars franchise.


“This contest I think is a nice way to expose kids to symphonic music and art and encourage them to use their own imaginations,” Byrne said. “To show them we all have the power of the imagination, and for some it can become a profession or a way of life—regardless of where you’re from.”


All young artists from K-12 are encouraged to submit their artwork by Oct. 19 to Most of the artwork will be shown in a slideshow presentation during the performances Nov. 4 & 5. Students who submit their work will be given a complimentary ticket to select OKCPHIL performances, and their families will receive a 50 percent discount, subject to availability.


The students who are chosen to be “Featured Artists” will receive complimentary tickets for themselves and their families to attend the “Happy 90th, John Williams” program.


“By simply being exposed at a young age to the excitement and energy created by a live orchestra, we will be creating lifelong memories for children,” Byrne said. “It is so important that kids can hear and see the power of the live orchestra and the energy it creates. That energy has to go somewhere, and I’m hoping some of it will remain in kid’s memories for a long time.”


Byrne is originally from Ireland, where he grew up listening to Williams’ scores from Superman and E.T. That music is timeless, he says, and transfers easily through generations.


Today, he and his wife Kasey, a native Oklahoman, make their home here with their two children.


“I’m so thrilled to get to work with the wonderful OKCPHIL,” Byrne said. “As a film composer myself, a lot of my work is in Los Angeles or the UK and Ireland. So, it’s great to get to bring a piece of that home to Oklahoma.”