World-renowned guest conductor Richard Kaufman will conduct the BJU Symphony Orchestra for the Oct. 25 Concert, Opera and Drama Series program “Symphonic Hollywood: the Music of John Williams.”
The orchestra has been preparing for this event under the direction of Dr. Michael Moore, chairman of the Division of Music. The program Kaufman will direct includes a selection of classical and film concert music.
Kaufman, who is originally from Los Angeles, began his career playing in the Peter Meremblum California Junior Symphony. He has played the violin for numerous films, including Jaws and Saturday Night Fever. He has also directed numerous symphony orchestras in major cities in the United States and around the world.
Dr. Moore said Kaufman brings a great deal of knowledge and wisdom about John Williams. “[Kaufman] is an expert in John Williams’ music,” he said. James Thatcher, a world-class French horn player, will be the guest soloist for the concert.
Thatcher began his career in Mexico City when he was 16. Since then, he has played for over 3,500 motion pictures and primarily plays for film studios. Moore said Thatcher is a prolific recording artist who lives in Los Angeles and has collaborated with John Williams in the past.
“He is going to be performing some [pieces] from classical repertoire just to showcase his incredible gifts,” Moore said. Kaufman said that having started playing the violin at 7, film music has always attracted his attention.
Over a phone interview, Kaufman said, “Love of film and classical music have always been a part of my life.” He said he was playing as a violinist at the movie set of Jaws when he met John Williams. Since then, Kaufman has admired Williams, both as a composer and as a person.
“Williams’ music is extraordinary,” he said. Kaufman said audiences love it and that musicians enjoy playing it as well. The concert will consist of two parts. Kaufman said the first half will feature classical concert music by composers like Mozart, Rossini and Strauss.
A few pieces included in this selection are Overture to William Tell and Rondo: Allegro vivace from Concerto No. 4, K. 495. Music from films will dominate the second half of the concert. Out of all the pieces that will be performed Thursday, Kaufman said some of his favorite pieces are “Flying over Africa” from Out of Africa by John Barry and “Theme” from Jurassic Park by John Williams.
“They are great pieces of film music,” Kaufman said. “They represent two of Hollywood’s finest composers.”
Symphonic Hollywood will be Kaufman’s first time conducting at BJU. Kaufman said he is honored to by the invitation to participate with the BJU orchestra for this concert. Kaufman first visited campus a year ago. It was during that visit that he met Dr. Moore. Although his first visit to the campus was fairly recent, Kaufman said he has known about BJU for many years.
Kaufman said he has especially admired the University’s emphasis on fine arts. He said he looks forward to coming to campus and working with the orchestra and is especially excited to hear this selection of film music being played by the BJU Symphony Orchestra. “I think film composers have a real gift for writing great melodies and writing wonderful orchestrations and using the orchestra and using all the colors of the orchestra,” Kaufman said.