BSO plan to digitize John Williams concerts almost complete

Streaming HUBFebruary 8, 2023

BOSTON (AP) – An effort to digitize more than 200 Boston pops radio broadcasts conducted by John Williams from 1979 to 1991 is nearly complete, the Boston Symphony Orchestra announced Wednesday, Williams’ 91st birthday.

A project to preserve 233 live radio broadcasts that were recorded on 256 one-quarter-inch (0.63 cm) reel-to-reel analog tapes that were becoming increasingly fragile and in danger of chemical degradation won $24,000 from the Grammy Museum and the Council on Libraries and Information Resources.

The recordings chronicle Williams’ work with guest artists from a broad spectrum of the entertainment industry: classical artists such as Yo-Yo Ma and James Galway; popular stars such as Joan Baez and Ray Charles; Broadway stars like Carol Channing and Joel Grey; jazz musicians including Wynton Marsalis and Sarah Vaughan; and comedic geniuses like Victor Borge.

The concerts were originally broadcast locally before being distributed to radio stations nationwide. Some contain the first concert arrangements of many of Oscar- and Grammy-winning Williams’ film scores.

BSO has completed the digitization process and is currently creating access files for public use. The recordings are searchable via the BSO’s performance history search engine and the public can request free access to the audio stream from 15 June.

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