February 25, 2014 at 1:00 am

Spielberg, Williams to join Detroit Symphony Orchestra for benefit

Conductor John Williams, and director Steven Spielberg. (Brad Barket / Getty Images)

Two of Hollywood’s biggest names, director Steven Spielberg and composer John Williams, will join the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for a special concert June 14 benefitting the DSO.

Credit the long friendship between Williams and DSO music director Leonard Slatkin, who met in the mid-1970s when the former was scoring the Spielberg film “Jaws.”

“My mother was first cellist on that film,” Slatkin says, noting she was the musician responsible for the movie’s famous two-note sequence — Duh-dum! Duh-dum! — that signaled the shark’s approach. “So,” he adds, “she was scaring people from the start.”

Williams, one of the most popular and prolific composers in film history, will conduct the DSO in Orchestra Hall as it performs selections from some of his most famous projects, including “Star Wars,” “Harry Potter,” “E.T.,” “Indiana Jones,” “Schindler’s List” and others.

The composer, who last conducted the DSO in 2008, has been nominated for more than 40 Oscars, dating all the way back to “Valley of the Dolls” in 1968, and won five statues.

Both of Slatkin’s parents were involved on the music side of Hollywood. In addition to his mother, cellist Eleanor Aller, Slatkin’s father, Felix, was concertmaster of the 20th Century Fox Orchestra. So it would be a shock if Slatkin-the-son were a snob on the subject of film scores.

“It’s the same as with opera or ballet,” Slatkin says. “It’s music designed to tell a story. And you can’t name a composer who’s as immediately recognizable as John — whether from that first note in ‘Star Wars’ or those two notes in ‘Jaws.’ ”

Spielberg will join Williams to host the second half of the evening. The director of “E.T.,” “Schindler’s List” and other recent classics will present selections from his decades-long artistic collaboration with the composer, including selected film clips projected on an oversized screen above the orchestra.

Both men are donating their services for the evening.

“To have the two of them come to Detroit is really something,” Slatkin says. “They’ll screen things, show you how they decide where the music is going to go, and where certain emphatic punches have to be. It’s really an object lesson, and one of the most memorable things you’ll ever see.”

Tickets for the concert, which will range from $30-$250, go on sale April 14.

MHodges@detroitnews.com