In 2004 after the general election, veteran anchor Tom Brokaw retired from NBC News. The transition had been announced long in advance and so successor Brian Williams was carefully introduced to the viewers. As part of the transition Nightly News updated its classic theme, The Mission, along with the graphics and set. No big changes — all debuting in the days before Brokaw left. The updated version of The Mission was recorded in October of 2004 in Culver City, CA and featured a 100-piece orchestra conducted by famed composer John Williams. NBC News commissioned an update to the classic theme because they wanted a slightly crisper and cleaner sound. Furthermore, to better preserve the music, the new theme was recorded digitally. The new Mission package also includes three unused themes for future use. The theme you are listening to is the full length main theme of The Mission, used as a close on Nightly News.
John Williams – NBC Nightly News close
The opening sequence to Nightly News was also revamped in 2004, at first returning to what NBC considered the roots of The Mission with a softer headline bed, but quickly abandoning it in favor of the old percussion-heavy cue.
John Williams – NBC Nightly News open
The opening sequence is actually a bit longer than is heard on air. The full piece by John Williams is not used by Nightly News on a regular basis. But, quite remarkably, it was used by a non-NBC News program, the syndicated Chris Matthews Show.