New melodies: John Williams composition Quartet La Jolla to debut at SummerFest concert

John Williams' career as a composer/conductor spans five decades. Though he is not expected to attend the concert in La Jolla where his latest composition will premiere, SummerFest officials are working to 'Skype' him into a rehearsal. Courtesy Boston Symphony Orchestral
John Williams' career as a composer/conductor spans five decades. Though he is not expected to attend the concert in La Jolla where his latest composition will premiere, SummerFest officials are working to 'Skype' him into a rehearsal. Courtesy Boston Symphony Orchestral

By Will Bowen

Where does music come from? How do composers get ideas and develop them into works of art? Music lovers will have a chance to ponder the mysteries of composition and hear new works at the La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest concert “Commissions and Premieres,” 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug.19 in Sherwood Auditorium at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

“There is tremendous excitement in the air over this concert. This is music that no one has heard before. It is like we are witnessing the birth of something very special and brand new,” said LJMS CEO Christopher Beach.

Adds LJMS Music Director Cho-Liang Lin, “This concert will be at the cutting edge. People will see what the current generation is doing and where the next generation is going. This is a glimpse into the future of American classical music.”

The four composers and their compositions are Sean Shepherd with “Oboe Quartet,” Marc-Andre Dalbavie with “Piano Quartet,” Joan Tower with “White Granite,” and John Williams, who has written a special work just for SummerFest that Cho-Liang Lin has named “Quartet La Jolla.”

Sean Shepherd, 32, is an American composer who earned his B.A. in music from Indiana University, MFA from Julliard, and is completing his D.M.A. at Cornell. Shepherd has won various awards at the different stages of his career and has had major commissions by the Cleveland Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. His music has been described as “sharp and fierce with a kaleidoscopic use of orchestral color.”

Marc-Andre Dalbavie, 50, is a French composer who studied at Conservatoire de Paris, did research at IRCAM on computer-assisted composition, and teaches at Conservatoire National Supeieur de Musique de Paris.

He won the Rome Prize in 1994, meaning he got to live and work in Rome for a year for free. In 2004, he was Knighted as a Chevalier de Arts et Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture.

Dalbavie is known for his use of computers and for the unconventional placement of his musicians — sometimes around the audience or in the their midst.

Joan Tower, 73, was born in New Rochelle, New York and is known for her bold and energetic compositions. The New Yorker magazine has called her “One of the most successful woman composers of all time.” Tower earned her D.M.A. from Columbia University and is on the faculty of Bard College. Her composition, “Made in America,” which was recorded by the Nashville Symphony in 2008, won three Grammy Awards, including Best Orchestration, Best Classical Album, and Best Classical Contemporary Composition.

John Williams, 79, is probably the most well known name on the bill, having won 5 Academy Awards, 4 Golden Globes, and 21 Grammy Awards. He is the second most-nominated person in Academy Award history, behind Walk Disney.

Williams was born in Flushing, New York, attended UCLA, and later earned a degree from Julliard. He composed the film scores for “Star Wars,” “Superman,”  “Jaws,”  “ET,” “Jurassic Park,” “Schindler’s List,” and “Harry Potter,” as well as the TV show “Lost in Space.”

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