LONDON—The music of Oscar-winning composer Elmer Bernstein will be celebrated in a pair of concerts this month in England and Ireland. Both will be conducted by the composer’s son Peter Bernstein, and both will be hosted by veteran director John Landis.
The RTE Concert Orchestra will perform at Dublin’s National Concert Hall on Wednesday, June 14, while the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra will perform at London’s Royal Albert Hall for the second concert on Sunday, June 18 (coincidentally for Peter, Father’s Day).
Bernstein’s most famous music will be heard, including themes and suites from The Magnificent Seven, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Great Escape. The conductor has also re-arranged his father’s classic jazz themes – The Man With the Golden Arm, Walk on the Wild Side, Sweet Smell of Success – to highlight the jazz soloists who will be featured.
“I have this great opportunity to work with music that I’ve known since the first days of my life,” says Peter Bernstein. “It’s part of my DNA, and I’m getting to present it in a way that I think is appropriate.”
The elder Bernstein’s history with the Royal Philharmonic dates back to the 1970s, when he recorded several of his now-classic “Film Music Collection” albums with the ensemble (To Kill a Mockingbird, Thief of Bagdad, Torn Curtain, Land of the Pharaohs). He continued to record his film scores with the orchestra, including Heavy Metal and Zulu Dawn.
Returning to the Royal Albert Hall “will be very nostalgic,” Peter said. “I was there for his last concert in 2002.”
A special treat will be music that has not been played in concert from Bernstein’s score for An American Werewolf in London, Landis’ 1981 horror film. New arrangements of The Great Escape (a favorite of English football fans) and From the Terrace will be performed; such other favorites as The Ten Commandments and Hawaii are also on the program.
The Dublin concert will feature music from My Left Foot and The Grifters, both of whose original scores were recorded in that city during the 1989-90 period. The elder Bernstein loved Ireland too and often spent time there.
Landis (who worked with the composer on seven films including Animal House, The Blues Brothers, Trading Places, Spies Like Us and others) is expected to regale the audiences with his many Bernstein stories. He is lifelong friends with Peter, who says “we will talk about things that no one else but us would know.”
Elmer Bernstein, who died in 2004, would have turned 95 this year.
Reprint courtesy of The Film Music Society