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John Williams, Gustavo Santaolalla and Gustavo Dudamel Take The Academy Behind the Score

Photo of Jacob Combs By Jacob Combs | Thompson on Hollywood June 30, 2014 at 10:49AM

If you're a music buff, especially one in Los Angeles, the names John Williams, Gustavo Santaolalla and Gustavo Dudamel are practically sacred.
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John Williams
John Williams

If you're a music buff, especially one in Los Angeles, the names John Williams, Gustavo Santaolalla and Gustavo Dudamel are practically sacred.  Next month, on July 21, the three will sit down with PBS host Tavis Smiley to discuss their inspiration as composers, the art and craft of creating a film score and the collaborative relationship between directors and composers.

John Williams, of course, is the legendary composer of films such as "Star Wars," "Jaws," "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial" and, well, just about everything else Steven Spielberg has ever made.  He has five Oscars to his name, and 49 nominations--the most of any living individual.

Santaolalla snagged consecutive Oscars in 2005 and 2006 for "Brokeback Mountain" and "Babel."  He has scored many of Alejandro González Iñárritu's films.  Most recently, he composed the music for the video game "The Last of Us."

Gustavo Dudamel is the music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, a post he has held for six seasons.  He made his film composition debut with "The Liberator," the Alberto Arvelo-directed biopic about Simón Bolívar that showed at the Los Angeles Film Festival this month.  Dudamel recorded the score for the film with the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, where he is also the director.

The Academy's "Behind the Score: The Art of the Film Composer" will take place at 7:30 on July 21 at the Bing Theater in Los Angeles.  Tickets are available online at oscars.org.

This article is related to: John Williams, Oscars, Sound and Score, Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, Los Angeles


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.