Few people have left their mark on the world of music as David Amram has. A very short list of his collaborators includes Dizzy Gillespie, Jack Kerouac, Leonard Bernstein, Eugene Ormandy, Sir James Galway, Charles Mingus, John Frankenheimer, Langston Hughes, Elia Kazan, Thelonious Monk, Johnny Depp, Hunter S. Thompson, Arthur Miller, Odetta, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Floyd Red Crow Westerman, Arlo Guthrie, and Pete Seeger, Paquito d’Rivera and Tito Puente.
Highlights of his many accomplishments include playing French horn in the legendary jazz bands of Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie and Lionel Hampton; composing the scores for the classic films The Manchurian Candidate (1962) and Splendor in the Grass (1960) and the Beat documentary movie Pull My Daisy (1959) narrated by Jack Kerouac; pioneering the first-ever public Jazz/Poetry readings in NYC with Jack Kerouac (1957); becoming the first composer-in-residence with the New York Philharmonic at the request of Leonard Bernstein (1966); composing the opera 12th Night with Shakespeare’s text made into a libretto by Joseph Papp. (1968); composing THIS LAND: Symphonic Variations on a Song by Woody Guthrie, a symphony based on Guthrie’s This Land is Your Land (2007); championing world music decades before the term was invented; playing at Farm Aid with Willie Nelson (1986-2015); and recounting his amazing life’s story in three books, as well as currently completing his fourth book David Amram: The Next 80 Years.
Lawrence Kraman’s documentary feature film, David Amram: The First 80 Years, is now available online at Vimeo-on-Demand. The film includes the New York premier of Amram’s This Land: Symphonic Variations on a Song by Woody Guthrie and highlights of his comic opera 12th Night and The Final Ingredient, an opera of the Holocaust.
In 2015, Newport Classic recordings released a new CD of Amram guest-conducted This Land: Symphonic Variations on a Song by Woody Guthrie and Theme and Variations on Red River Valley for flute and strings with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra in Denver. In London, there will be a release of a box set of highlights from Amram’s major film scores and re-issues of his classic jazz, Latin, and World music recordings, as part of the many events in he USA, Canada and Europe commemorating his 85th birthday.
The Lincoln Center of the Performing Arts branch of the New York Public Library has acquired Amram’s complete archive and celebrated his work with performances of Amram’s chamber music by members of the New York Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera Orchestras.
Today, Amram continues to perform as a guest conductor, soloist, band leader and narrator in five languages, while continuing a remarkable pace of composing. Recently acclaimed new works in addition to Symphonic Variations on a Song by Woody Guthrie are Three Songs: A Concerto for Piano and Orchestra; Giants of the Night, a flute concerto commissioned and premiered by Sir James Galway, A Little Rebellion: Thomas Jefferson, a piece for narrator and orchestra, premiered at the Kennedy Center with Amram conducting; and Kokopeli, A Symphony in Three Movements, premiered by the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, with Amram conducting.
Recent awards include his induction into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame as recipient of the The Jay McShann Lifetime Achievement Award, the Clearwater’s Pete and Toshi Seeger annual Power of Song Award, the Theater of the New City’s annual Love N’ Courage Award for 2015 for his work as a composer and ambassador for global music and the recipient of an honorary Doctorate of the Arts from Brooklyn College for sixty years of contributions to the cultural life of New York City, as well as being chosen as the commencement speaker for the class of 2015.
For further information of Amram’s activities please visit: davidamram.com