Following the footsteps of JOHN WILLIAMS
Boston Symphony Hall,...
...home of the BOSTON POPS,...
...where John Williams was Principal Conductor for 19 years.
Hatch Memorial Shell on the Charles River Esplanade
The shell annually hosts the BOSTON POPS ORCHESTRA for the Fourth of July celebration...
...and has often seen Conductor Laureate John Williams lead the orchestra.
The Arthur Fiedler Footbridge,...
... dedicated to John Williams' predecessor at the BOSTON POPS.
"Treesong" (2001) by John Williams,
inspired by an old metasequoia tree in the Boston Public Garden
For quite a few years it's been my habit to walk in the Boston Public Garden
as often as I can, and it has been during these walks that I found
myself stopping before a particular tree and pausing to admire it.
The tree is a beautiful specimen of the Chinese dawn redwood,
or metasequoia, and over time my fascination with it grew into a
full-fledged infatuation. I later learned that the dawn redwood dates
from the Mesozoic era, and until as recently as the 1940s it was
thought to be extinct. Fossils of its presence in the deep past did
exist, but when live specimens were discovered in China, the tree
became referred to as the "living fossil.” Standing before the
tree one can sense its age and feel its wisdom.
I kept this affair of the heart
very much to myself for several years until one day when I was walking
in Boston's Arnold Arboretum with Dr. Shiu-Ying Hu, the Harvard-based
botanist, to whom I'd been recently introduced. During our stroll we
casually paused in front of a large tree that I hadn't looked at
closely enough to recognize immediately. Pointing to the tree, Dr. Hu
explained that this tree was the oldest metasequoia in North America
and that she had planted it in the late 1940s using seeds she had
brought with her from China. I was thunderstruck by this coincidence,
and when I told her of "my” metasequoia in the Public Garden, she
informed me that the younger tree I loved so much was also one of her
Recently, when I was given the
opportunity to write a piece for Gil Shaham, I thought of Dr. Hu and
her tree. The result is TreeSong for violin and orchestra. The piece
doesn't aspire to "describe” the tree per se, but it does
attempt, in my mind at least, to connect, to the degree possible, the
great beauty and dignity of this magnificent conifer with the elegance
and grace of Gil Shaham and his art.
John Williams and Gil Shaham, violin