David Amram


The Boston Globe has described David Amram as "the Renaissance man of American music". He has composed over 100 orchestral and chamber works, written two operas, and early in his career, wrote many scores for theatre and films, including Splendor in the Grass and the Manchurian Candidate. He plays French horn, piano, guitar, numerous flutes and whistles, percussion, and a variety of folkloric instruments from 25 countries. He has conducted and performed as a soloist with symphony orchestras around the world, participated in major music festivals, and traveled from Brazil to Cuba and from Kenya to Egypt. While actively assimilating the musical cultures of the countries he has visited, he has kept up a remarkable pace of composing, incorporating his experiences in the worlds of jazz, folk and ethnic music as inspiration and basic material for his formal compositions. He has collaborated with such notables as Leonard Bernstein, Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Charles Mingus, Dustin Hoffman, Thelonius Monk, Willie Nelson, Jack Kerouac, Betty Carter, Odetta, Elia Kazan, Arthur Miller, and Tito Puente.

Since being appointed first composer-in-residence with the New York Philharmonic in 1966-67, he has become one of the most acclaimed composers of his generation, listed by BMI as one of the Twenty Most Performed Composers of Concert Music in the United States since 1974.

For the past twenty-seven seasons, Amram has been the music director of young people's, family, and free summer concert programs for the Brooklyn Philharmonic. As conductor, narrator, and soloist on instruments from all over the world, he combines jazz, Latin American, Middle Eastern, Native American, and folk musics of the world, in conjunction with the European classics. In the spring of 1995, the Brooklyn Academy of Music honored his quarter of a century as a pioneer of multicultural symphonic programming. He appears as guest conductor and soloist with major orchestras around the world, as well as touring internationally with his quartet, while continuing to produce a remarkable output of new compositions.

Recent commissions include A Little Rebellion: Thomas Jefferson, premiered at the Kennedy Center with E.G. Marshall narrating and Amram conducting members of the National Symphony Orchestra. This work will be recorded in 1998. In January of 1997, Kokopelli: A Symphony in Three Movements, received its world premiere with Amram conducting the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. It was recorded in June of 1997, conducted by Kenneth Schermerhorn.

David Amram has appeared on national TV four times with Willie Nelson for Farm Aid, many times with the late Dizzy Gillespie, as well as numerous interviews, including David Letterman, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Charles Karalt, and CBS Sunday Morning. His video, "Origins of Symphonic Instruments," released by Educational Video, is in over 6,000 schools throughout the US and Canada. The award-winning documentary "Amram Jam" will be nationally televised and released as a home video in 1998. By the end of 1997 there will be twelve CD's of David Amram's music commercially available, ranging from his holocaust opera, The Final ingredient, his symphonic works Three Concertos, to his classic film score "The Manchurian Candidate." His live jazz recording, "Kerouac" and "Amram: Pull My Daisy", celebrates Kerouac and Amram's collaboration in the first ever jazz poetry reading in New York City in 1957, and the subsequent 1959 film which combined Amram's chamber music and jazz with Jack Kerouac's narration.

Washington Post critic Joseph McClellan, reviewing Amram's Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra, wrote: "David Amram is one of the most versatile and skilled musicians America has ever produced...a classical composer with a special gift for appealing melodies and dramatic structures."

James R. Oestrich, in his review of 9/28/93 in the New York Times of Amram's Violin Concerto, said, "David Amram was multi-cultural before multiculturalism existed."

Long acknowledged as a pioneer of World Music, virtuoso, performer, brilliant conductor and composer of uncompromising originality since the 1950's, David Amram's compositions and his unique approach to music are now finding a. world-wide audience.

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