Composer John Williams honored by colleges at AFI gala event

Even if say you don’t know the name John Williams, you know his compositions, that’s for sure. Composing some of the most famous movie scores of all time, it’s really about time that John Williams is honored as one of the greats, if not once again.  John Williams compositions have played a starring role in such films as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Superman just to name a few, and his amazing list of accolades thereof is almost astounding.

Composer John Williams honored by colleges at AFI gala event (4)


Paying tribute to Williams were presenters, performers and guests including Drew Barrymore, Kobe BryantChris Columbus, Gustavo Dudamel, Will Ferrell, Harrison Ford, Morgan Freeman, Mark Hamill, Tom HanksBryce Dallas Howard, Cloris Leachman, Seth MacFarlane, Steve Martin, Idina Menzel, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Itzhak Perlman and Daisy Ridley.

Composer John Williams honored by colleges at AFI gala event (7)Composer John Williams honored by colleges at AFI gala event (6)


Welcome remarks were made by Sir Howard Stringer, Chair of the AFI Board of Trustees, and Bob Gazzale, AFI President and CEO. Acclaimed director/producer and AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women alumna Lesli Linka Glatter (HOMELAND, MAD MEN, TWIN PEAKS) was awarded the 2016 Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal for her commitment to excellence in film and television.

Composer John Williams honored by colleges at AFI gala event (3)Composer John Williams honored by colleges at AFI gala event (2)


The Tribute launched without words as Will Ferrell conducted the ballroom in singing Williams’ famous five-note motif from CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977). The evening’s highlights included clips spanning Williams’ career; touching remarks and anecdotes from guests and presenters; and a moving performance of the SCHINDLER’S LIST (1993) theme, with Los Angeles Philharmonic Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamelconducting an 11-piece ensemble comprised of violin soloist Simone Porter and musicians from the American Youth Symphony.

Composer John Williams honored by colleges at AFI gala event (1)Composer John Williams honored by colleges at AFI gala event (5)

The evening concluded with Spielberg’s presentation of the AFI Life Achievement Award to the Oscar®-winning composer. “John, you breathe belief into every film we have made,” Spielberg said. “You take our movies, many of them about our most impossible dreams, and through your musical genius you make them real and everlasting for billions and billions of years.”

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