The music of On the Waterfront and Casablanca were the subject of “Upbeat Live” talks I moderated on Friday and Sunday prior to the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s first-ever live-to-picture concerts of both scores at Disney Hall. David Newman, who conducted both, was on hand to offer musical insights into the classic Leonard Bernstein and Max Steiner scores. On Friday we were also joined by composer Laura Karpman, and on Sunday our guest was composer Charles Bernstein. Both Karpman and Bernstein are current governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences; this past weekend’s concerts marked the first of several events in the new three-year partnership of the Phil and the Academy. I also contributed the program notes for both films (Casablanca is here; On the Waterfront is here).
The Philharmonic participated in the “Pacific Standard Time” initiative by doing three nights of film music, titled “The Hollywood Sound” and conducted by Thomas Wilkins. I did the pre-concert lectures, which involved briefing listeners on the composers (Korngold, Herrmann, North, Bernstein, Goldsmith, Williams) and the music they were about to hear. And on one night I joined Wilkins on stage to talk about the role of film composers as part of L.A.’s musical heritage.