It’s that time of year when Jaws starts popping up into public consciousness. Audiences adore Steven Spielberg's mega-successful suspense thriller, where a police chief (Roy Scheider), an antsy oceanographer (Richard Dreyfuss), and a curmudgeonly shark hunter (Robert Shaw) chase an unstoppable, great white shark that keeps munching up beachgoers of a New England tourist town.
The iconic film often gets played at multiplexes, revival houses, and outdoor screenings across the country. After all, not only is the movie set around a soon-to-be-eventful Fourth of July weekend, its release during the summer of 1975 practically set off the summer-blockbuster business model. Jaws is credited with helping start the trend of studios serving up big-budgeted tentpole releases, meant to bring in audiences during sunny months — a tradition that continues to this day.
But along with being a classic chiller that made Spielberg a major Hollywood player, its score is also quite iconic. Composed and conducted by the one-and-only John Williams (who would go on to score the movie that would out-gross Jaws two years later, a little thing called Star Wars), it’s one of the most recognizable scores in film history, mostly thanks to the anxiety-inducing theme, an alternating pattern of two notes played on the tuba (“Da-dum. Da-dum. Da-dum da-dum da-dum da-dum daaaaaaaa!”), that signaled whenever this shark was about to attack.
The theme has become a ubiquitous piece of pop culture, appearing in movies, music videos, and even the Oscars, where it was used one year to let winners know to wrap up their speeches. (Speaking of Oscars, the score landed Williams a Best Original Score Oscar as well as the number-six spot in American Film Institute’s list of greatest scores.)
Fans can enjoy the spine-tingling score when it will be played live at “Houston Symphony: Jaws — in Concert,” on June 13 at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. The symphony will play the score as the movie is also projected on a big screen. Consider this night a warm-up to another Houston Symphony event that’s happening later this year.
On September 4, the Symphony will once again play cinema compositions from Williams for a concert called “Rebels, Raiders and Superman: A Tribute to John Williams.” The biggies will all be represented: Wars, Superman, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Jurassic Park. (We’re hoping they’ll throw in some obscure ones, like the score for the shot-in-Texas The Sugarland Express, Williams’s first collaboration with Spielberg.)
But, until then, take in an evening of your local symphony ratcheting up the suspense during a screening of one of the best summer blockbusters ever made. You won't be blamed for checking for land sharks.
“Houston Symphony: Jaws — in Concert” plays at 8 pm Wednesday, June 13 at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 2005 Lake Robbins Dr. in The Woodlands. Tickets for orchestra seating are $20 (mezzanine and lawn is free). No backpacks, bags or large purses will be allowed into the venue.