Composers have their time in spotlight

April 30, 2014|By Michael Miller
  • Composer Elliot Goldenthal.
Composer Elliot Goldenthal. (Marco Guerra )

It's the time in a movie when most audience members take their attention off the screen — when they begin talking, checking their phones and shuffling out of the darkness.

For Carl St.Clair, it's sometimes the best part of the film.

The Pacific Symphony music director often stays through the end credits if the film features music by a composer he admires. During the movie, the score lingers in the backgrounds of scenes or between snippets of dialogue, and it sometimes isn't until the long final scroll that the composer gets a chance to work uninterrupted.

"Those are the moments when the composer really doesn't have a scene to portray or a vignette of 90 seconds or a minute and a half, that they actually have a few minutes where they can literally just compose music," St.Clair said. "And sometimes, I really get excited about the music of a film, most of all when I'm not watching the film but when I'm watching the credits go by."


Those who also have a yen for Hollywood's esteemed composers may want to attend the symphony's 14th annual American Composers Festival from May 8 to 10 at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. The program, titled "From Screen to Score: New Concert Music by Famous Film Composers," spotlights works by Elliot Goldenthal, James Horner, Howard Shore and John Williams, whose collective work encompasses "Star Wars," "Titanic," "The Lord of the Rings" and "Batman."

Not that those melodies will be on the symphony program. "From Screen to Score" features non-cinematic works by all four men, including the concert premiere of Horner's "Flight" and the world premiere of Goldenthal's "Symphony in G-Sharp Minor." Williams' "Tributes! For Seiji" and Shore's "Mythic Gardens for Cello and Orchestra" will round out the lineup.

The concert will mark the second time the symphony has spotlighted film scorers. The 2009 program, "Hollywood's Golden Age," featured works by Bernard Herrmann, James Newton Howard and others and alternated between film and orchestral works.

This time, St.Clair and curator Richard Guerin opted to eschew the film component to focus on a lesser-heard side of the composers' work.

"I'm delighted to present these wonderful composers on the concert stage in a non-film venue because they truly are talented composers," St.Clair said. "They have an incredible array of compositional techniques. They're fantastic orchestrators. So they deserve to be heard in all their glory, not just one aspect."

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