Fort Wayne Philharmonic Music Director Andrew Constantine pulled rank to conduct the orchestra's Sweetwater Pops Series concert Saturday at the Embassy Theatre.
Some Pops concert music isn't that challenging to play or features the orchestra only in a support role to the guest performer's musicians, Constantine said. So he usually leaves Pops concert duties to The Phil's associate conductor, Sameer Patel.
But Constantine wanted to be at the conductor's podium Saturday for “The Music of John Williams,” featuring a hit parade of the composer's scores for hit movies including “Superman,” “Catch Me if You Can,” “Harry Potter,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “Schindler's List” and “Star Wars.”
“This is great music,” Constantine said. “The orchestra is not just a backup band.”
Williams' music is much more challenging, dynamic, interesting and intricate than most Pops concert fare, Constantine said.
Some of Williams' scores, he said, have so many notes in them, such as in the “Star Wars” music, some orchestras weren't sure their string players had the arm stamina to perform the pieces well.
Constantine isn't worried about philharmonic musicians, however. During the course of a season, he said, they play such a wide variety of music that they are prepared to play anything.
He's looking forward to the challenge of guiding the orchestra through the piece from “Catch Me if You Can,” the 2002 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a teenage con man who becomes a wildly successful check counterfeiter and Tom Hanks as the FBI agent who tracks him down and helps him turn his life around.
“That is a really interesting score,” said Constantine, who has never performed it previously.
But conducting pops concerts elsewhere earlier in his career did teach him one important lesson he will carry into Saturday's performance: Movies connect with people in a special way, and you can't get too creative in how you present or interpret the music.
“You have to very careful,” he said. “People have a sense of ownership about the music.”