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November 20, 2017
American Youth Symphony Performs E.T. Live to Picture
David Newman and Steven Linder honored as visionaries for film music in concert by Marilee Bradford
LOS ANGELES—An estimated 1,400 watched, listened and shed tears as E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial unspooled while the American Youth Symphony performed John Williams' Oscar-winning music live to picture Sunday night at UCLA's Royce Hall.
AYS music director Carlos Izcaray conducted the ensemble of 80-plus young, pre-professional musicians and earned a roaring standing ovation at its conclusion. The concert marked the 10th year of AYS's "Hollywood Project," which has included six years of Jerry Goldsmith and Danny Elfman music as well as live-to-picture concerts of Back to the Future and Star Trek: Into Darkness.
Prior to the concert, Variety writer Jon Burlingame interviewed three L.A. musicians with a special connection to the E.T. score: David Newman, who played violin on the original 1982 recording sessions and later conducted the L.A. Philharmonic in the complete score at the Hollywood Bowl; Ralph Grierson, who played piano on the original 1982 sessions; and Katie Kirkpatrick, whose mentor Dorothy Remsen played harp in the original and who still plays Remsen's harp in her many studio recordings.
Newman spoke eloquently about the merger of art and commerce in film music, especially in a masterpiece like E.T., and reminisced about the four days they recorded in March and April of 1982. Grierson recalled that Williams, a few weeks before the sessions, asked if he would be playing on those days and casually mentioned that he would "write something" for Grierson to play. When Grierson arrived on the first date, he discovered that Williams had written a piece "like a Chopin etude" and scrambled to practice it during every break before recording.
Kirkpatrick fondly recalled her teacher, Dorothy Remsen, and noted that she played Remsen's own harp during the 2015 Hollywood Bowl performance of E.T., named the harp "Dottie" after its previous owner, and still plays it today.
After the concert, Newman and Steven Linder were honored at an AYS fundraising dinner for their efforts in bringing film music performances to live venues. Newman was praised for spearheading the Hollywood Project when he served as chairman of the AYS board of directors, and Linder (producer for Film Concerts Live! and former vice chairman of the board) received accolades for his ongoing support of the organization and its advancement of film music in concert.
Executive director Varina Bleil introduced the symposium, the concert and the dinner, and both acknowledged and thanked The Film Music Society for its support and participation in all of the symposia and concerts to date. To support the AYS, visit www.aysymphony.org.
©2017 Marilee Bradford