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NSO accompanies screening of "E.T."

Among the summer offerings of the National Symphony Orchestra at Wolf Trap was a screening of the classic film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial on Friday night. It was a beautiful evening for it, with a cool breeze that could have been a little stronger to make up for the heat of the receding day at the Filene Center. It was heartening in a way to see that the crowd for this supposedly popular offering, in both the house and on the lawn, was smaller than the straight-classical program the NSO had played here last weekend.

The NSO's longtime associate conductor, Emil de Cou, continued his leadership of most NSO events at Wolf Trap for the screening. The Steven Spielberg film, released in 1982, was much funnier than I had remembered, and my son and I both enjoyed watching it again. John Williams, who has provided so much of the soundtrack of American cinematic lives for the last fifty years, may not be remembered principally for this film. In fact, there is not much to the score except some memorable moments created with papery piccolo solos, tingling celesta and harp, and quirky, almost mechanical loops.

That is with the noteworthy exception of the two flying bicycle scenes, the two places in the film where the NSO could really open up and soar. The effect with live orchestra was an exponential increase of the gooseflesh effect of Williams's full-orchestra treatment of one of his distinctive melodies. If some people who do not normally attend orchestra concerts experienced that feeling, this aspect of the NSO's "popular outreach" effort will have been worth it.

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