Thursday, May 23

Orchestra to perform film score selections

Despite how beautiful and sophisticated film scores can be
sometimes, there is only one orchestra in the world solely
dedicated to performing them live, and it is based in UCLA.

The Hollywood Symphony Orchestra will be performing an array of
film scores on Saturday in Royce Hall with a 60-person chorus. The
orchestra came together with the mission of bringing musical
compositions for films on a performative par with classical

“If you listen to a film score with a film, there’s
a certain flatness to it because it has to be embedded with the
film, and the lighting, the sound effects and the dialogue can get
in the way,” said John Beal, the general manager of the
orchestra. “But if you listen to a live orchestra play a film
score that you can relate to … it just brings a whole new
dimension to it.”

Film Scores

Saturday, 8 p.m. Royce Hall

The orchestra began with a core group of musicians that had only
been recording film scores in a studio on a case-by-case basis. The
rapport that built through these sessions coalesced and matured
into the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra under the leadership of
multi-instrumentalist, composer and orchestra conductor John

“People are beginning to know that the orchestra exists as
a body,” Scott said. “We are loyal to each other and we
like working together; therefore, the orchestra is rather permanent
in a city where musicians are very exchangeable because of a
freelance attitude.”

This camaraderie, along with the orchestra’s talent and
professionalism, helps the group to master the orchestrations
despite very limited rehearsal time and the variety of styles they

Saturday’s performance alone will range from the music of
classics such as “Lawrence of Arabia” to the modern
blockbuster “The Matrix,” and will also include
“Havana” and the seldom-performed music of

“The musicians are brilliant and very versatile, from
great jazz players to wonderful symphonic and chamber players, so
we can handle anything,” Scott said.

Providing brief introductions for each piece will be an array of
directors and actors who have played a part in the production of
the films, including director Sydney Pollack and actress Samantha

The night also signifies the world premiere of the music for
“World Trade Center” and Clint Eastwood’s
upcoming “Flag of Our Fathers.” Both films have gotten
mixed attention recently for their close connections to current

“In some ways (criticisms of “˜World Trade
Center’) make sense with 9/11 and the disaster of the Iraq
War and how basically a lot of things have gotten worse since
then,” said Craig Armstrong, the composer of the “World
Trade Center” film score.

“But at the same time,” he said, “I think
it’s completely credible that a filmmaker as talented as
Oliver Stone can make a film about one of the biggest disasters
that happened to America. I don’t see any problem with

Armstrong, whose credits include music for films such as
“Ray,” “Moulin Rouge” and “Love
Actually,” was in Manhattan on Sept. 11 and attributes part
of his connection to the film’s music to that experience .
The score captures the palpable sense of fear that Armstrong felt
that day along with a global perspective on how the event has
influenced the world.

“I tried really hard with the “˜World Trade
Center’ score to make music that was meaningful and beautiful
against the horror of the situation,” Armstrong said.
“I think it’s good that the music has touched a

“I wrote it sincerely,” he said. “I wrote what
I felt. It’s good people can enjoy it.”

Another standout piece is “Alexander Nevsky,” which
Beal describes as having “a tremendous historical
value.” It details the 13th-century conflict between the
Russians and Germans.

“Prokofiev was a master. Had he been writing music for
films nowadays, I gasp at what he’d be doing because he was
always so ahead of his time,” Scott said. “So this
piece is going to be a great challenge also.”

“Alexander” adds an intensity to the program with
its multiple layers and dramatic percussive elements, which further
stresses the diversity of themes and emotions featured in
Saturday’s program.

“Decisions were made bearing in mind what people might
like to hear, what might excite them and what they haven’t
heard before,” Scott said. “(It’s) going to
intrigue them and so they’ll go away probably feeling
enriched because of the experience.”

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