Home, but not Alone
Kim Taylor shares memories about John Williams' score for the movie classic "Home Alone"
On a grey November Saturday in 1990, the esteemed Tanglewood Festival Chorus was huddled in a basement rehearsal room. One floor above was the auditorium—festooned with wreaths, ribbons, glowing lights—in preparation for the Holiday Pops season.
That day, conductor emeritus John Oliver announced there would be a couple of new pieces to learn. They were part of a movie John Williams had just completed about a young boy who mistakenly gets left behind when his family leaves him at Christmas. Someone shouted out “What’s it called?”
Oliver, squinting at the score, answered, “Home Alone.”
“Oh, that will sell,” cracked a chorus jokester.
Singing “Somewhere in My Memory” for the first time was a deeply touching moment for all of us. It was followed by “Star of Bethlehem,” a regal and awe-inspiring carol. Both have taken their place alongside the masterpieces John Williams mentions in his article, Alleluia!.
When Williams first began conducting the holiday concerts in 1980, there were four. Today, there are 41. For these performances, Symphony Hall transforms into a festive, yet mystical backdrop, where Santa still drops by, where the spirit of Christmas is brought to life, and where orchestra, chorus, and audience alike often end with one of Williams’s favorites, “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”