Home Film Scores Compilations About JW

CALL OF
THE
CHAMPIONS

(2002)


Sony Classical SK 89364 Music composed and conducted by John Williams
Format: CD Album produced by John Williams and Ken Wannberg
Total Playing Time: 60:50 Utah Symphony
Date: Feb 1, 2002 Boston Pops Orchestra
Cat. No. CP6-105 Recording Arts Orchestra of Los Angeles

incl. The Official Theme of the Olympic Winter Games 2002


Track Listing

1. Call of the Champions
    The Mormon Tabernacle Choir - Craig Jessop, Director
    Utah Symphony (5:00)

The Official Theme of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games

__________________________________________________

     American Journey
    (a.ka. "The Unfinished Journey", "Celebration 2000")
    Recording Arts Orchestra of Los Angeles (24:41)

2. I. Immigration and Building (5:39)

3. II. The Country at War (3:22)

4. III. Popular Entertainment (2:30)

5. IV. Arts and Sports (2:37)

6. V. Civil Rights and the Women's Movement (3:27)

7. VI. Flight and Technology (7:10)

American Journey, a six-movement work, was composed for the Millennium celebrations in Washington, D.C. as part of a multimedia presentation done in collaboration with Steven Spielberg, Poets Laureate Rita Dove, Robert Pinsky, and Maya Angelou. The presentation also featured the words of Carl Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. Rather than a chronological rendering of the "American" century, this is, rather, an attempt to portray the 20th Century thematically, "with a series of tableaux that could be dealt with individually," says Williams.

__________________________________________________

8. Song for World Peace
    (Reworked Version of "Satellite Celebration", 1996)

    Recording Arts Orchestra of Los Angeles (4:42)

Song for World Peace, as tender and lyrical as anything Williams has ever written, was composed for the Boston Symphony Orchestra and dedicated to its longtime Music Director, Seiji Ozawa. The piece was first performed in Tokyo during a recent tour of the Pacific Rim.

__________________________________________________

9. Jubilee 350 (1980)
    Recording Arts Orchestra of Los Angeles (3:44)

__________________________________________________

10. The Mission Theme (Theme for NBC News) (1985)
     Recording Arts Orchestra of Los Angeles (3:30)

__________________________________________________

11. For New York (Variations on Themes by Leonard Bernstein)
     (a.k.a. "To Lenny! To Lenny!") (1988)
     Recording Arts Orchestra of Los Angeles (3:03)

For New York: Variations on Themes by Leonard Bernstein originated as part of a tribute for the composer's 70th birthday. Williams combined "New York, New York" from On the Town and "America" from West Side Story with "a little snippet of 'Happy Birthday' in there, of course...It was meant to be fun" and it is "but it now turns out to be a kind of elegy both for Lenny and a warm tip of the hat to New York City itself."

__________________________________________________

12. Sound the Bells! (1993)
     Recording Arts Orchestra of Los Angeles (2:50)

Sound the Bells, written to celebrate a marriage in the Japanese Royal Family, finds Williams pursuing the inspiration of the great Japanese temple bells. Instead of resorting to a false orientalism, the composer exploits the timbre and luster of the western symphony orchestra's own bells to convey American greetings to the Japanese Royal Couple.

__________________________________________________

13. Hymn to New England (1987)
     Utah Symphony (3:11)

__________________________________________________

14. Celebrate Discovery (1990)
     Recording Arts Orchestra of Los Angeles (3:49)

__________________________________________________

BONUS TRACK:

15. Summon the Heroes (1996)
     The Boston Pops Orchestra (6:16)

Written for the Centennial Celebration of the Modern Olympic Games,
Atlanta, Georgia, July 19, 1996


Album Credits

Producer
John Williams, Ken Wannberg
Engineer
Simon Rhodes, Shawn Murphy
Guest Artists
Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Track 1 & 13:

Recorded at Maurice Abravanel Hall, Salt Lake City, Utah
November 27, 2001

Track 2 - 12, 14:
Recorded at Sony Pictures Studios, Culver City, California
December 9-10, 1999 and June 19-20, 2000

Track 15:
Recorded at Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts
January 1996




Liner Notes
by Jackson Braider, WGBH Radio

You can't hear John Williams in full stride and not feel proud to be alive. Williams was the natural choice to write "Call of the Champions," the official theme of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. Having previously composed themes for the Games in Los Angeles, Seoul and Atlanta, Williams has proven himself singularly masterful at conveying the Olympic ideal in music. ("Summon the Heroes" from the 1996 Games is included in this collection as a bonus track).

Williams has gradually become America's unofficial Composer Laureate, the first composer since John Phillip Sousa to kindle a sense of grandeur in the American psyche. In the soaring Olympic theme "Call of the Champions," Williams infuses his work with a kind of impassioned dignity that makes the heart swell with radiance.

With Salt Lake City as the setting for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, the world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir 350 voices strong and an American cultural icon was the clear choice to be featured in the work. What words should this tremendous choir sing? Nothing immediately leapt to mind. "That was okay," Williams said. "We would use the choir to enhance the orchestra. The incomparable sound, the noise that a choir and orchestra can make is so magnificent."

And yet Williams could not let it alone. "In thinking and reading about what we might have sung, I came across this Baron de Coubertin motto: 'Citius, Altius, Fortius' [swifter, higher, stronger]." (Coubertin was the founder of the modern Olympic Games back in the early 1890s.) "I thought it would make a wonderful declamatory handle, just that triad of words sung in a very forceful way by the chorus. We had all 350 members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing this and it was electrifying. It sounds like all the heroes coming down from Olympus and chanting together."

"Always this triad of words, but at the end of the piece I needed to break the rhythm of the text. So I took the liberty of adding the word clarius to the motto a word a Roman might have used to speak of intelligence and clarity of mind."

The result is classic Williams: A celebration of humanity in musical form, with the orchestra and choir cranked up as rock fans would have it to "ten" and listeners of every stripe feeling at once ennobled and inspired to embrace the community of humankind.

Shortly after the "Call of the Champions" recording session, John Williams and I talked about this collection. In the course of that interview, one thing became immediately apparent about Williams: his profound sense of purpose as a composer. That might sound somewhat odd, but when Williams speaks of trying to write "uplifting" compositions, for example, that's exactly how he wants people to feel when they hear his work.

American Journey, a six-movement work, was composed for the Millennium celebrations in Washington, D.C. as part of a multimedia presentation done in collaboration with Steven Spielberg, Poets Laureate Rita Dove, Robert Pinsky, and Maya Angelou. The presentation also featured the words of Carl Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. Rather than a chronological rendering of the "American" century, this is, rather, an attempt to portray the 20th Century thematically, "with a series of tableaux that could be dealt with individually," says Williams. Beneath the newsy titles "Immigration and Building," "The Country at War," "Popular Entertainment," "Arts and Sports," "Civil Rights and the Women's Movement," "Flight and Technology" there were extraordinary human stories that fueled Williams's imagination.

"There is so much for Americans to be proud of, even in some of our misfires and our outright failures. For example, in the fifth movement, 'Civil Rights and the Women's Movement', you see the dogs and the water hoses and you also hear, combined with the music, the ennobling words of Dr. King. It gives us a sense that we have come through some hellish fire together."

"That was our take," Williams continues. "We wanted to look at the good things and the bad things and frame them in such a way as to take heed, and to take heart at the same time, and have this be an uplifting experience."

American Journey is presented here for the first time as a complete concert work.

It takes John Williams to remind us that "grandeur" is not always measured in time. What these shorter works capture is the composer's extraordinary sense of occasion. Jubilee 350, Celebrate Discovery, and Hymn to New England were composed during Williams' years as Music Director of the Boston Pops Orchestra. Sound the Bells, written to celebrate a marriage in the Japanese Royal Family, finds Williams pursuing the inspiration of the great Japanese temple bells. Instead of resorting to a false orientalism, the composer exploits the timbre and luster of the western symphony orchestra's own bells to convey American greetings to the Japanese Royal Couple. Song for World Peace, as tender and lyrical as anything Williams has ever written, was composed for the Boston Symphony Orchestra and dedicated to its longtime Music Director, Seiji Ozawa. The piece was first performed in Tokyo during a recent tour of the Pacific Rim.

For New York: Variations on Themes by Leonard Bernstein originated as part of a tribute for the composer's 70th birthday. Williams combined "New York, New York" from On the Town and "America" from West Side Story with "a little snippet of 'Happy Birthday' in there, of course...It was meant to be fun" and it is "but it now turns out to be a kind of elegy both for Lenny and a warm tip of the hat to New York City itself."







MH