When pianist Min Kwon invited me to join her project focused on “America the Beautiful,” and told me of the remarkable group of composers who would be participating, of course I felt compelled to accept her invitation. This song has inspired generations of Americans, and has received musical treatments in countless styles over the decades. Reflecting today on the profound struggles and challenges which our nation is currently facing, with more division and strife than I have seen in my lifetime, it seems more important than ever to remember that America does contain much which is still beautiful, despite it all… and that is the image in my mind as I compose a variation on this timeless melody.
Grammy-nominated PETER BOYER is one of the most frequently performed American orchestral composers of his generation. His works have received over 500 public performances by more than 200 orchestras, and thousands of broadcasts by classical radio stations around the United States and abroad. He has conducted recordings of his music with three of the world’s finest orchestras: the London Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
Boyer’s major work Ellis Island: The Dream of America, for actors and orchestra, has become one of the most-performed American orchestral works of the last 15 years, with over 200 performances by more than 100 orchestras since its 2002 premiere. Boyer’s recording of Ellis Island on the Naxos American Classics label was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. In 2017, Ellis Island was filmed live in concert with Pacific Symphony, conductor Carl St.Clair, and a cast of stage and screen actors for PBS’ Great Performances, America’s preeminent performing arts television series. The PBS national telecast premiere was in June 2018.
Boyer has received commissions from several of the most prestigious American institutions and ensembles, including the Kennedy Center for the National Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Pops, Cincinnati Pops, Pacific Symphony, and “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band, which premiered his Fanfare for Tomorrow at the Inauguration of President Joe Biden. Other orchestras which have performed Boyer’s music include the Philadelphia Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Houston Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Nashville Symphony, and Colorado Symphony. He served as Composer-in-Residence of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and the Pasadena Symphony.
In 2010, Boyer composed the Boston Pops 125th anniversary commission, honoring the legacy of John, Robert, and Ted Kennedy. Boyer’s The Dream Lives On: A Portrait of the Kennedy Brothers was narrated by acclaimed actors including Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, and Alec Baldwin, conducted by Keith Lockhart; and received ten performances, two telecasts, and a commercial recording. Boyer’s Silver Fanfare was the opening work of three consecutive Hollywood Bowl seasons (2015-17), in sold-out performances featuring the iconic rock bands Journey, Steely Dan, and The Moody Blues.
In 2019, Boyer received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, which is officially recognized by both Houses of Congress as one of the most prestigious American awards, and has been presented to seven U.S. Presidents, as well as U.S. Secretaries of State, Supreme Court Justices, members of Congress, military leaders, and prominent Americans from many fields.
In addition to his work for the concert hall, Boyer is active in the film and television music industry. He has contributed orchestrations to more than 35 film scores from all the major movie studios, for leading Hollywood composers including James Newton Howard, Thomas Newman, Michael Giacchino, the late James Horner, Alan Menken, Mark Isham, and Aaron Zigman. Boyer orchestrated suites for Pixar in Concert, which has been performed by major orchestras worldwide. He has arranged music for the Academy Awards, and composed music for The History Channel. His music has appeared in documentary films, short films, and a variety of television programs. More information can be found at PropulsiveMusic.com.
As the artistic director of Center for Musical Excellence, I am always on the look out for new and undiscovered talents. They come to me, sometimes, by my colleagues’ recommendations and other times through young artists’ own research about our organization. Tyson Davis and Andrew Bambridge are currently on our roster of CME Young Artists, whom we mentor. Patricio Molina is a CME alumnus. Theo Chandler, Ji-Young Ko, and Daniel Newman-Lessler applied for our Grant program, and I got to know their work through that process. I decide on young artists when I notice a deep passion and drive within them, plus a certain kind of sparkle in the personality and lots of humility. In addition to musical talents, I believe these are the qualities that will take the young artists far. CME’s motto is "Moving Musicians Forward". I’ve chosen our Discovery Composers based on these qualities, whom we felt we could easily move forward.
- Min Kwon