For CSO Principal Tuba Gene Pokorny, joining guest conductor Richard Kaufman and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in providing live accompaniment June 28-30 for screenings of “Jaws” will be special because of the movie’s connection to his mentor, Tommy Johnson.
Johnson, who died in 2006, played the famous tuba solo in the “Jaws” theme on the movie’s soundtrack. And he can be heard as part of the Hollywood orchestras performing the music for hundreds of other movies, television shows and commercials.
“For me, his was more than just the sound of a tuba coming out of a movie soundtrack,” Pokorny wrote in a Sounds and Stories tribute to Johnson, published last season. “He was my tuba teacher for two years when I was going to college in Southern California. He taught me the ‘right stuff’ to get my playing career started.”
Kaufman and Pokorny have discussed Johnson’s pivotal role on the “Jaws” soundtrack and how much it will mean for the tubist to take his teacher’s place.
“This is a very personal thing that will be happening with Gene playing the solo that Tommy Johnson played on the original,” Kaufman said. “And I’m sure the first time Gene plays the solo, I will look up at him and I’ll know what he is thinking. And it goes far beyond the actual performance of the music.”