The Pasadena Symphony welcomes GRAMMY-nominated Peter Boyer as its Composer in Residence for the 2012-2013 season, and has commissioned his Symphony No. 1 to premiere in its landmark 85th anniversary season. This commission has been made possible through contributions by the Trustees of Claremont Graduate University.

“We are very excited about working alongside such a well respected composer as we celebrate our 85th season,” explains Paul Jan Zdunek, Chief Executive Officer of the Pasadena Symphony Association. “Peter is an amazingly versatile talent, which is why he is in continuous demand in the orchestral and film industries.”

Boyer, a resident of Altadena and the Helen M. Smith Professor of Music at Claremont Graduate University, is one of the most frequently performed contemporary American orchestral composers of his generation. His work Ellis Island: The Dream of America has been performed over 125 times by nearly sixty orchestras in the last decade, and he has received commissions from organizations including the Boston Pops, Pacific Symphony, Eastern Music Festival, and the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts. He has also contributed orchestrations to 20 feature film scores by top Hollywood composers.

In his role as Composer in Residence, Boyer will compose his first symphony as well as lead intimate salons with the Pasadena Symphony Association’s Fresh Ink Society. “This Society is a recently formed new music collective of the region’s most enthusiastic community leaders that are helping to realize the commission, performance and recording of its first project – the Symphony No. 1 of Peter Boyer,” states Zdunek. A wide range of community and Fresh Ink Society activities will culminate in the premiere of Boyer’s Symphony No. 1 on April 27, 2013 at Ambassador Auditorium.  Full season details of the 85th anniversary season will be announced in the coming weeks.

“I am honored and excited to accept the Pasadena Symphony’s invitation to serve as its Composer in Residence for the 2012-13 season,” says Boyer. “I have long admired this excellent orchestra, whose members include musical colleagues and friends. A commission for a first symphony is both a great challenge and splendid opportunity for any composer. I’m most grateful for this opportunity, and eagerly look forward to the collaboration ahead.”

The Fresh Ink Society is raising funds for a capstone to the season-long relationship with Boyer. “We hope to record Peter’s first symphony for the Naxos label,” continues Zdunek. “We are looking to have a few more people join us and Peter in the Fresh Ink Society, so that we may share Peter’s music and our Pasadena Symphony with listeners everywhere on this internationally released CD.” For information on how to support the Fresh Ink Society of the Pasadena Symphony Association, visit or call their administrative offices at (626) 793-7172.


Grammy-nominated Peter Boyer has emerged in recent years as one of the most frequently performed American orchestral composers of his generation. His orchestral works have received over 275 public performances, by nearly 100 orchestras. He has conducted recordings of his music with two of the world’s finest orchestras, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Philharmonia. His works have received numerous national broadcasts in the U.S. and abroad. He has received seven national awards for his work, including two BMI Awards for young composers, the First Music Carnegie Hall commission, and the Lancaster Symphony Composer’s Award.

Conductor Keith Lockhart chose Boyer for the Boston Pops 125th anniversary commission honoring the legacy of John, Robert, and Ted Kennedy. Acclaimed actors Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, and Cherry Jones narrated the premiere of Boyer’s The Dream Lives On: A Portrait of the Kennedy Brothers in May 2010, which was attended by many members of the Kennedy family, and received extensive national media attention. Boyer’s work was the centerpiece of the TV special An American Salute: The Boston Pops at 125, produced and broadcast by WCVB-TV, Boston’s ABC affiliate, which won a Boston/New England Emmy Award. The work was also performed at the 37th annual Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on the Charles River Esplanade, for an audience of over 750,000, and telecast on WBZ-TV, Boston’s CBS affiliate. The Boston Pops also performed Boyer’s Kennedy Brothers at the Tanglewood Music Festival with narrator Alec Baldwin, and at Hyannis Port with narrator Chris Cooper, and released a commercial recording of the work on the BSO Classics label.

Conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya appointed Boyer as the 2010-11 Composer-in-Residence for the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, and led 10 performances of his works during that season. Gerard Schwarz, Conductor Laureate of the Seattle Symphony, commissioned and premiered Boyer’s Festivities to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Eastern Music Festival in 2011. Boyer’s music has been performed by the symphony orchestras of Dallas, Nashville, Pacific, Phoenix, Buffalo, Fort Worth, Brooklyn, Kansas City, Virginia, Hartford, Toledo, Richmond, Grand Rapids, Elgin, Rhode Island, Portland, Winston-Salem, Fresno, Santa Barbara, Sarasota, Kalamazoo, Fort Wayne, Greenville, Bamberg, Belgrade, the New York Youth Symphony, Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra, and many others. The Pasadena Symphony has commissioned Boyer to compose his Symphony No. 1 for its 2012-13 season.

Boyer’s major work Ellis Island: The Dream of America for actors and orchestra, which celebrates the historic American immigrant experience, has been his most successful composition to date. Premiered in 2002, the work has received over 125 live performances by 55 orchestras, making it one of the most-performed American orchestral works of the last decade. Boyer’s recording of this work was released by Naxos in its American Classics Series in 2005, and was nominated for a GRAMMY Award for Best Classical Contemporary Composition. The League of American Orchestras’ Symphony magazine recently profiled Ellis Island as one of “a handful of recent works by living composers becoming orchestral standards.”

In addition to his work for the concert hall, Boyer is active in the film and television music industry. He has contributed orchestrations (arrangements for orchestra of music by other composers) to 20 Hollywood film scores, from studios including Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Disney/Pixar, Universal Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Lionsgate/Marvel, and Sony Pictures Animation. Film composers for whom Boyer has orchestrated music include Michael Giacchino (the Oscar-winning Up, Star Trek, Cars 2, Super 8, Mission: Impossible III, Speed Racer), Mark Isham (Dolphin Tale, Robert Redford’s The Conspirator), Harry Gregson-Williams (Arthur Christmas) and the late Michael Kamen (Open Range, First Daughter, Against the Ropes). Boyer has twice arranged and orchestrated music for the Academy Awards, including the 2009 telecast. He scored episodes of the TV series Engineering an Empire for The History Channel.

Boyer’s work has been profiled and reviewed in such media outlets as the Associated Press, USA TODAY, Variety,, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Dallas Morning News, Hartford Courant, Symphony Magazine, BBC Music Magazine, Gramophone, and many others. Boyer has carried out composer residency work in conjunction with performances of his music around the United States, including at Brown University and Vanderbilt University, and with Orange County’s Pacific Symphony. As conductor, Boyer has led such orchestras as the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Hartford Symphony, Rhode Island Philharmonic, and Richmond Symphony, and has conducted recording sessions from London’s famed Abbey Road and Air Studios to the scoring stages of Los Angeles.

Boyer was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1970, and began composing at the age of 15. His first major composition was a large-scale Requiem Mass in memory of his grandmother, composed while only a teenager. He was named to the first All-USA College Academic Team, comprised of “the 20 best and brightest college students in the nation,” by USA TODAY in 1990. Boyer received his Bachelor’s degree from Rhode Island College, which awarded him an honorary Doctor of Music degree in 2004. He received Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from The Hartt School of the University of Hartford, which named him its 2002 Alumnus of the Year. There his teachers included Larry Alan Smith and Harold Farberman. Following his doctoral work, Boyer studied privately with John Corigliano in New York, then moved to Los Angeles to study film and TV scoring at the USC School of Music, where his teachers included the late Elmer Bernstein. In 1996, Boyer was appointed to the faculty at Claremont Graduate University, where he holds the Helen M. Smith Chair in Music and the rank of Full Professor. Boyer resides in Altadena, in the San Gabriel Foothills just north of Los Angeles.