A chorus of violins, horns and cellos collide in a booby-trapped Peruvian temple, where Indiana Jones, sandbag in hand, makes his move on a golden idol. The music sounds dissonant, tentative, anxious.
We know the rest: The globetrotting archaeologist of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" snatches the idol, misjudges the sandbag's heft and the pedestal's pressure trap is triggered, sending a boulder tumbling down the cave. And as Indy sprints away, the music turns frantic, increasing in tempo, crescendoing, sounding as panicked as Dr. Jones must feel.
"You really feel the boulder in your stomach, and the brass comes in like an exclamation: 'Bum, bum, bum, ba-bum, bum!'" says Stephen Guerra, managing director of the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra at the University of Miami's Frost School of Music. "John Williams' music is a character in itself, always telling the audience how to feel."
Williams' instantly recognizable score will be performed on Friday, March 4, at Mizner Park Amphitheatre, where a screening of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" will be accompanied by a live orchestra. The film, projected onstage, will have its soundtrack music removed and replaced by a battery of 90 Henry Mancini Institute students who will re-create the iconic music from the orchestra pit.
"Raiders of the Lost Ark" will raise the curtain on the 10th edition of Festival of the Arts Boca, the annual draw of authors, dancers and musicians taking place March 4-16 at Mizner Park Amphitheatre. This year is highlighted by violinist Joshua Bell (closing the festival on March 16); 12-year-old piano-jazz prodigy Joey Alexander (7:30 p.m. March 11); jazz trumpet veteran Herb Alpert and his wife, Grammy-winning singer Lani Hall (7 p.m. Sunday, March 6); and authors Laila Lalami (7 p.m. March 9, "The Moor's Account") and Fareed Zakaria (7 p.m. March 7; "In Defense of a Liberal Education").
Other diversions: a performance of Mozart's opera "The Magic Flute" with the Symphonia, Boca Raton, under the baton of Constantine Kitsopoulos (7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 5); and acrobat troupe Cirque de la Symphonie (7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 12).
Guerra, who says the "Raiders" screening and concert will be broken into two acts, plus intermission, calls Williams' soundtrack a "complex" balance of musical timing, emotional catharsis and popcorn nostalgia. This means plenty is riding on their faithful re-creation: memorizing audio cues, synchronizing music to action sequences, not stepping on Indiana Jones' one-liners.
"It's not just an orchestra and a conductor we're worried about. It's that third dimension of film," Guerra says. "The orchestra has to time the exact moment when Indy reaches out to touch an object, a micro-moment of emotion and action that has to be expressed perfectly in sync with the film."
The Festival of the Arts Boca is not a stranger to movie-and-orchestra pairings. It has done the same with "West Side Story" and "Casablanca." The festival put the screening together through the Los Angeles talent agency Film Concerts Live!, who gained permission from Williams and director Steven Spielberg.
Steven Linder, co-founder of Film Concerts Live!, says convincing Williams and Spielberg was an "easy chore."
"I knew this was going to be the coolest thing I'd ever see when we proposed it. Williams single-handedly brought symphonic music back to film," says Linder, also senior vice president of Hollywood talent agency IMG Artists. "There's something to the magic of seeing the novelty behind a music's score. The music is so good that it has a right to be performed on its own."
The 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 4, screening of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" with live orchestra will kick off Festival of the Arts Boca, returning March 4-16 at Mizner Park Amphitheater, 590 Plaza Real, and Mizner Park Cultural Arts Center, 201 Plaza Real, in Boca Raton. Tickets cost $15-$225 per event. For the full schedule, call 866-571-2787 or go to FestivalBoca.com