World Premiere by Academy-Award Winning Composer Honors Carl St.Clair

Goldenthal, Elliot
Composer Elliot Goldenthal

A pupil of Aaron Copland and John Corigiliano, Elliot Goldenthal has been hailed as “one of the most original and unique voices working today in film and concert hall.” He has written a new adagio to mark the occasion of Carl St.Clair’s 30th anniversary as Pacific Symphony’s music director. You may be familiar with Goldenthal’s film scores for “Batman Forever,” “Alien 3,” “Interview with the Vampire,” “Final Fantasy” and “Frida,” for which he won an Academy Award in 2002 for best original score.

The relationship between conductor and composer goes back several decades. In 1993, St.Clair and Pacific Symphony commissioned Goldenthal to write a work commemorating the 20th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. Fire Water Paper: A Vietnam Oratorio was performed and recorded in 1995 and the recording was released in 1996, featuring cellist Yo-Yo Ma as soloist. Goldenthal’s Symphony in G# Minor was premiered by Pacific Symphony with Carl St.Clair conducting in 2014. And now, Goldenthal has written an adagio entitled October Light: Adagio for Orchestra to honor St.Clair. The world premiere will be performed at the concerts on Dec. 5, 6 and 7.


Goldenthal wrote a composer’s note for the piece:

In 1993, Carl St.Clair and Pacific Symphony commissioned my Fire Water Paper: A Vietnam Oratorio, a  commemorative work reflecting upon the 20th year of cessation of the Vietnam conflict. In 2014, Pacific Symphony premiered my Symphony No. 1 under the baton of Carl St.Clair. For this I will be forever grateful. In this work October Light: Adagio for Orchestra, instead of fanfare and brio, I looked inward to dedicate. Although the work is not programmatic, it casts an autumnal shadow. When I got a message that I was commissioned to honor Carl, it was the same week that I got the news that Tim Landauer, the principal cellist of Pacific Symphony had passed after a long illness. He was the cello soloist under the baton of Carl St.Clair at the premiere of Fire Water Paper. With that backdrop, my commission took on a bittersweet assignment. “October Light” is a title from a John Gardner novel, where there is a phrase that referred to “the pull of the earth” that stuck with me as well as October’s long shadows and the crystalline, sometimes blinding autumnal light in the northern hemisphere. Beyond the minutiae of analysis, the motivic component the listener can recognize is the expansion of a repeated single tone followed by an intervalic whole step up. This simple motive is heard throughout the work with its treatment of juxtaposition of registration with cello and the harmonics of the first and second violins and higher woodwinds. The other element is the present, circular repetitions in the solo violin and woodwinds. The circular motion, the dichotomy of low and high registers find themselves inexorably reaching and pulling for a blinding light that can coexist with the “pull of the earth.”

There are still some seats left – check out more concert info here!


World Premiere by Academy-Award Winning Composer Honors Carl St.Clair

One thought on “World Premiere by Academy-Award Winning Composer Honors Carl St.Clair

  • December 2, 2019 at 4:23 pm

    Oh, how I wish to be there, but it’s impossible. But what a journey of beauty and love this will be and how lucky all those who will be there. Congratulations, Mr. St. Clair. And a huge thank-you to Mr. Goldenthal. This will certainly be an evening to remember.


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