Pacific Symphony’s focus on film music in American Composers Festival

Posted on: February 23, 2009

In Sunday’s (2/22) Los Angeles Times, Jon Burlingame writes about the Pacific Symphony’s annual American Composers Festival, which gets under way Thursday in Costa Mesa. “Previous festivals have been devoted to, among other areas, music of Mexico and the American West. This year’s them is ‘Hollywood’s Golden Age,’ but it does not spotlight the usual pops-concert lineup of chestnuts such as ‘Gone With the Wind’ and ‘Star Wars.’ Instead, the festival will offer a fairly radical program that pairs concert music by the five composers with their more familiar film works.” Milos Rozsa, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, and Bernard Herrmann represent the “golden age” of the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. “Also represented will be living composers James Newton Howard, whose ‘Defiance’ score is up for an Academy Award tonight and who has written a 19-minute orchestral piece that will premiere as part of the festival, and Paul Chihara, a veteran composer who writes both film and concert music. … [Carl] St. Clair, the Pacific Symphony music director, says that he asked his players—many of whom double as studio recording musicians—about film composers ‘with a great feel for the orchestra’ and that Howard’s name kept coming up. He says he finds Howard’s film scores ‘unique, and his sound palette really captivating.’ ”