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April 25, 2014     The Catalina Islander
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April 25, 2014
 

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6rammy-winning conductor to direct orchestra at Silent Film Benefit Conductor Richard Kaufman Richard Kauman and orchestra will make history at Benefit COURTESY OF THE CATALINA ISLAND MUSEUM For the first time in the history of the Catalina Island Museum Silent Film Benefit, the feature film "City Lights" will be accom- panied by a full symphony orches- tra in the Avalon Casino Theatre on May 17. The orchestra will perform the film's original score written by Charlie Chaplin him- self. Directing the orchestra is Grammy Award-winning conduc- tor Richard Kaufman. The Catalina Island Museum recently sat down with Kaufman to discuss his background, per- forming City Lights and his con- nection to Catalina Island. How were you introduced to the symphony? My parents loved music. I was seven, and one afternoon I walked into my house after playing base- ball with my friends. There was a lady sitting in our living room. My mother said, "This is Mrs. Hewitt, your violin teacher." I think the first thing I probably said was "what's a violin?" Mrs. Hewitt was very patient and inspiring, and it was a wonderful beginning to a life surrounded by music. Did you play in a symphony prior to becoming a conductor? As a young musician growing up in Los Angeles, there were a few excellent youth orchestras. I was fortunate to be a member of the Peter Meremblum California Jr. Symphony. It was an amazing orchestra, and the opportunity to be a part of that group made a dramatic impact on what direction my life would take in music. Later on, as a professional, I played in various orchestras in Los Angeles, and also in the studios. Other than classical or sym- phony music, what type of music do you enjoy ? I love film music, and always have. The opportunity to play vio- lin on many original film scores including "Jaws" (and five other John Williams scores) was indeed thrilling. And having worked for three years at 20th Century Fox, and then for 18 years supervising music at MGM gave me the chance to work .wj, and get to know, many of Holry;ood's finest composers. Those years were fun, challeng- ing, exciting, and memorable! Conductor Richard Kaufman during a pops performance with the Pacific Symphony. Photo courtesy of the Catalina Island Museum As a conductor you have had the honor of winning a Grammy. What was the winning perfor- mance? I conducted a recording with the Nuremberg Symphony of music that included the Concerto for Viola and Orchestra by Miklos Rozsa, as well as film and con- cert music by Lee Holdridge. The Grammy was in the cate- gory of "Best Pop Instrumental Performance". Have you Feceived any other prestigious awards or honors? During my time at MGM, I received two Emmy Award nomi- nations. A couple of years ago, my Alma Mater California State University at Northridge, hon- ored me with the "Distinguished Alumni Award." I have a feel- ing that they probably didn't look closely at my college grade point average, hut nonetheless, it was so gratify to be remembered by a school that gave me so much, both personally and professionally. This year you are conduct- ing three different orchestras to accompany Chaplin's origi- nal score for "City Lights" in Chicago, San Francisco and Avalon. Can you tell us about this experience? Every orchestra is different. The Chicago Symphony is very simply one of the greatest orches- tras on the planet. The way in which they per- formed the music for City Lights was truly memorable. The audi- ence thoroughly enjoyed the film, laughing throughout and even shedding tears at the end. Throughout your career you have worked' with a number of famous musicians and actors. Do yo u ILave a favorite? I have been blessed to conduct for many wonderful singers and instrumentalists. I conducted for John Denver for over 20 years, and for Andy Williams for over 30 years. Both were not only great artists, but wonderful human beings. They loved performing, and they loved giving each and every one of their audiences a great per- formance every time. And both loved performing with symphony orchestras. They respected the musicians, and the musicians held a tre- mendous mutual .respect for both John and Andy. As a conductor, it couldn't get any better than working with two legends who were also truly genuine and lovely people. You mentioned that you have been to Catalina Island in the past. When was your first trip? -I used to come to Emerald Bay as a Boy Scout for summer camp. It was so much fun (except When I put on that big round diving hel- met and went down to the bottom only to come face-to-face with my first eel. I could have done without that and I'm sure the eel felt the same). We would have canoe races to the Isthmus that were fantastic. I also remember sneaking out of camp at night and climbing up a hill with my portable radio to listen to the Dodger games while looking at the lights of the mainland. In a way, it was a magical time, and could only have happened in a place like Catalina. Museum Page 11  ISLAND SPA " "7 NOW HIRING Island Spa Catalina (American Leisure, Spa operator) is hiring for all positions. For inquiries please call 3o-5o-zooo xa28 or email your resume to mfletcher@amerieanleima-e.eom Spa Attendants CA Licensed Esthetieians Spa Front desk and Retail Cosmetologists -Hair and Makeup CA Licensed Massage Therapists Nail Technicians SANTA CATALINA  ISLAND COMPANY 310.510.2OOO VisitCatalinaIslancLcom AMERAN EISURE THE CATALINA ISLANDER Friday, April 25, 201417