Legendary flutist talks his distinguished career as studio musician in Hollywood, from his early days performing under Alfred Newman at 20th Century Fox to his many collaborations with John Williams as first chair flute, including his solos in such scores as Jaws, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and The Witches of Eastwick, as well as the premiere of the Flute Concerto

 

Flutist Sheridon Stokes is one of the true all-time greats among Hollywood studio musicians. In a career spanning six decades, Sheridon Stokes became one of the most heard flute artists in the world mostly thanks to his impressive career in the film and television industry in Los Angeles. He has performed as principal flute on dozens of classic film scores including many by John Williams. For the Maestro, he performed solos on Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and The Witches of Eastwick. It’s his beautiful, crystalline tone that accompanies some of the most iconic scenes in those films. But, as you’ll hear in the episode, Sheridon and John Williams met long before the Maestro would become the most famous and celebrated film composer in history.

 

In this conversation, Sheridon talks about his illustrious life and career as one of the most venerable studio musicians in Hollywood, from his early days performing in the 20th Century Fox Orchestra under Alfred Newman to his meeting with a young John Williams in 1957. He talks at length about his first works with Williams in the early 1970s and the world concert premiere of the composer’s Flute Concerto with the UCLA orchestra in 1973. He also reminisces his flute solos on Jaws, E.T. and The Witches of Eastwick, and the work with composer Lalo Schifrin, offering his own unique insight into the great history of Hollywood’s film music.

 

For more information, visit https://thelegacyofjohnwilliams.com/2021/01/18/sheridon-stokes-podcast/

Legendary saxophonist and woodwind specialist talks his career as studio musician in Los Angeles, from his early days as session player to his collaborations with Maestro John Williams, including the stunning alto saxophone solos he performed on the score for Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film Catch Me If You Can

Saxophonist and woodwind specialist Dan Higgins is unquestionably one of the most talented session musicians on the planet and also highly respected among his peers. His stunning skills both as saxophonist and woodwind player on several instruments (including clarinet and flute) have been appreciated by a wide variety of composers and musicians with whom Higgins collaborated throughout his amazing career. He has performed in the woodwind section on several John Williams' film scores since the mid-1990s, but he's first and foremost remembered for the stunning alto saxophone solos he recorded on the brilliant score Maestro Williams composed in 2002 for the film Catch Me If You Can, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Leonardo Di Caprio and Tom Hanks.

Born in Boston, MA, in 1955, Dan Higgins first distinguished himself as an outstanding saxophonist while attending University of North Texas. After moving to Los Angeles, Dan started to work as a freelance studio musician, mostly on record dates, but also on many recordings for television shows, including playing on live shows and specials, following the footsteps of other great saxophone players like Gene Cipriano, Ronnie Lang and Plas Johnson.

His career as studio musician for the film and television industry is impressive: he has worked on 700+ motion picture scores and is a featured saxophone soloist on many great films with such notable composers as John Williams, Alan Silvestri, Marc Shaiman, Randy Newman, David Newman and Alexandre Desplat among others.

Dan Higgins has worked extensively with John Williams for more than 25 years. His first collaboration was playing alto saxophone on a few “period music” source pieces that Williams arranged as part of the musical score for Schindler’s List (1993). However, the big breakthrough came in 2002, when the Maestro called upon Dan’s talents as soloist on alto saxophone for the score to Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can. The film was a box office hit and the score garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score. The success pushed Williams to prepare a three-movement concert suite based on the main thematic material from the score called Escapades for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra. Higgins premiered the concert suite with the Maestro on the podium conducting the Boston Pops Orchestra in May 2003 and subsequently appeared as guest soloist to perform the piece with notable orchestras such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

In this conversation, Dan talks about his amazing career as studio musicians in Los Angeles, his early days as jazz musician, how he picked up the legacy from legendary studio saxophonists like Gene Cipriano and Ronnie Lang and also how he learned discipline from them. Dan talks extensively about the projects he did with John Williams, with a special focus on his soloist work on Catch Me If You Can, remembering the recording sessions for that film and offering his own unique insight into the creative process of Maestro Williams. Dan also recollects the work on The Adventures of Tintin and the unique instructions John Williams gave him before recording the zany “Canto Bight” jazz piece for The Last Jedi.

For more information and the list of the musical excerpts, visit https://thelegacyofjohnwilliams.com/2021/01/08/dan-higgins-podcast/

French Horn player extraordinaire talks his life and career as studio musician in Hollywood and his many collaborations with John Williams, including his work as Principal Horn on The Post and the recent Star Wars sequels The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker, sharing his views on the Maestro's music

Los Angeles native French Horn player Dylan Skye Hart is part of the younger generation of studio musician who are carrying over the great tradition of the "Hollywood sound" in film scores established by legendary horn players such as Vince DeRosa and Jim Thatcher, of whom Dylan can really be considered a natural heir. Dylan had the distinguished honour of performing as Principal Horn for John Williams on a few of his more recent scores, including The Post (2017) and the Star Wars sequels The Last Jedi (2017) and The Rise of Skywalker (2019), following in the footsteps of those above mentioned musicians.

Since 2008, Dylan Hart has played for many top Hollywood composers including Alan Silvestri, Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard, Bruce Broughton, John Powell and Alexandre Desplat. Dylan is also a devoted classical musician—he's currently Principal Horn for the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Santa Barbara Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Pacific Symphony, and the San Diego Symphony Orchestra. Dylan is also a member of the Los Angeles Horn Quartet and Modern Brass Quintet.

In this conversation, Dylan talks about his life and career as French Horn player in Los Angeles, from his humble beginnings to his years studying with Vince DeRosa and Jim Thatcher. He recalls his first gigs in major film scores and his work performing for John Williams in such scores as War Horse, The Post, Dear Basketball and the Star Wars films, offering his own unique insight about Williams' process in the studio and his writing for the instrument. Dylan also reflects on the great tradition of Hollywood's horn playing style as mastered by his teachers DeRosa and Thatcher and what it means carrying that legacy.

For more information, visit https://thelegacyofjohnwilliams.com/2020/12/18/dylan-hart-podcast/

Legendary tuba player talks his 40+ years career as studio musician in Los Angeles and his collaborations with John Williams, including the “Voice of the Mothership” solo in Close Encounters of the Third Kind and his work on Home Alone, Hook and Jurassic Park

Tubist Jim Self is one of the true legends among both the international tuba community and the Los Angeles studio musicians. In a career spanning more than four decades, Jim has performed internationally as soloist, orchestral player, chamber musician and studio musician. He performed in more than 1,500 film and television soundtracks and can be heard playing solos on many of them. He has been John Williams’ principal tuba for 25 years (from 1990 to 2015), performing solos on such scores as Home Alone, Home Alone 2, Hook and Jurassic Park. Above all, he performed the iconic “Voice of the Mothership” tuba solo as heard in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).

He’s currently principal tuba for four orchestras—the Los Angeles Opera, Pacific Symphony, Pasadena Symphony and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. He still performs occasionally as a studio musician for film scores and played 2nd tuba on the recent Star Wars sequel trilogy from 2015-2019. John Williams has referred to him as “one of the greatest instrumentalists of his generation”.

In this long, engaging conversation, Jim talks about his extraordinary career as studio musician and his many years performing for John Williams. He recollects recording the iconic solo for Close Encounters of the Third Kind and his work on Home Alone, Hook and Jurassic Park, offering insightful comments and reflections about playing for John Williams, but also about the music itself. He also talks about his work for Jerry Goldsmith and James Horner, his friendship and early years playing with tuba legend Tommy Johnson, the role of tuba in film music and his life as a composer.

For more information and the list of musical excerpts visit https://thelegacyofjohnwilliams.com/2020/11/10/jim-self-podcast/

Legendary French Horn player talks his distinguished career as studio musician in Hollywood and his many collaborations with John Williams as Principal Horn since 1989, including such film scores as Always, JFK, Jurassic Park, Sleepers, and The Patriot

Hosted by Maurizio Caschetto and Tim Burden

Among the many studio musicians who performed in John Williams’s scores, French Horn legend James Thatcher certainly occupies a very special place. The esteemed hornist has performed in many scores composed by the Maestro and has been his first-choice principal horn from 1989 until 2013. James Thatcher performed in many scores by John Williams, including such popular films as Jurassic Park and Home Alone, but also as featured soloist in Always, JFK, Sleepers, Amistad, Rosewood and The Patriot.

James Thatcher is one of the most prolific and revered studio musicians who ever worked for the film recording industry, but also an accomplished and respected classical player, certainly one of the world’s premier French horn players. He had the distinguished honour to have been one of the longest first-chair musicians serving for John Williams and performed in virtually all of his scores recorded in L.A. until 2013.

Jim has also been James Horner's first-choice principal horn for thirty years, playing in such film scores as Field of Dreams, Glory, The Rocketeer, Titanic, Deep Impact and many others.

Jim Thatcher has also worked with an extraordinary list of composers that include Jerry Goldsmith, James Newton Howard, Alan Menken, Randy Newman, John Barry, Maurice Jarre and Alan Silvestri. Jim’s performances can be heard on such films as Out of Africa, Dances with Wolves, The Fugitive, Pretty Woman, Back to the Future, Frozen, Total Recall, Glory, Independence Day, Monsters, Inc., Beauty and the Beast, Ice Age, The Polar Express, Toy Story, Cars, Forrest Gump, Night at the Museum, King Kong, and the list goes on and on. He has the impressive record of performing in more than 3,500 film and television scores during his career. In addition to film and television scores, Jim played in many studio recordings and his solo horn work also includes Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra, Kenny Rogers, Dave Grusin, Harry Connick Jr. and Mel Torme.

In this long, engaging conversation, Jim talks about his life and career as studio musician in Hollywood, his friendship with the great Vince DeRosa, and his many projects with John Williams, including his solo work in films like Always, JFK, Jurassic Park and The Patriot. Jim talks extensively about the challenges and the thrills of being the principal horn for John Williams for many years, but also offers his insightful thoughts about the music itself, the history of the instrument in film, offering memories from his collaborations with James Horner and Jerry Goldsmith. He also talks about his work as a classical musician and his life as a teacher.

 

Visit https://thelegacyofjohnwilliams.com/2020/10/23/james-thatcher-podcast for more information and to listen to a special tribute montage dedicated to Jim Thatcher

The legendary trumpeteer talks his unparalleled career as studio musician in Hollywood and his journey with composer John Williams as principal trumpet on 40+ films between 1973 and 2011, including some of the Maestro’s most beloved scores such as Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., Jurassic Park and the Indiana Jones films

Among the musicians who performed for John Williams in Los Angeles, trumpet legend Malcolm McNab has certainly a place of honour. This incredibly talented musician started to perform for the composer in 1973, playing lovely lyrical solos in the score for the film The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (directed by Richard C. Sarafian, starring Burt Reynolds and Sarah Miles). His exquisite playing immediately became a benchmark and, from that moment onward, McNab became principal trumpet for virtually all John Williams’s recordings in Los Angeles from 1973 until 2011, becoming one of the longest-serving members (if not the single longest) in his pick-up orchestra: a grand total of 46 film scores, including some of the Maestro’s most iconic works like Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, The Witches of Eastwick, Home Alone, Hook, Far and Away, Minority Report, plus several television projects (including Amazing Stories, Great Performances and the theme for the NBC Nightly News programs) and other special projects such as the live-to-picture performance of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial for the film’s 20th anniversary in March 2002. He also had lovely lyrical solos in Stanley & Iris (1990).

Malcolm McNab’s career highlights don’t stop however just at his many successful collaborations with John Williams. The trumpeteer has also been the first-call principal trumpet for many other great Hollywood composers including Jerry Goldsmith, Alex North, James Horner, Randy Newman, James Newton Howard, Bruce Broughton, Michael Kamen, with many of them writing beautiful solo parts especially for him. McNab’s truly impressive list of credits includes many of Hollywood’s most famous movies of the last 45 years. His playing can be heard in hundreds of memorable soundtracks, including the Rocky series, several Star Trek movies, Pretty Woman, The Karate Kid, Spider-Man 1 and 2, The Sixth Sense, Silverado, Edward Scissorhands, Independence Day, the Lethal Weapon films, Pirates of the Caribbean, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and Pixar’s Toy Story 1, 2 and 3, Cars and Monsters, Inc., and many, many others. He can be heard as featured soloist in John Barry’s Dances With Wolves, Randy Newman’s Avalon, Jerry Goldsmith’s L.A. Confidential and The Last Castle, James Horner’s Glory, just to name a few.

In this rich, in-depth conversation, Malcolm talks about his career as studio musician legend, performing for virtually every great composer in Hollywood and performing both exquisite solos and virtuosic trumpet parts in many film scores. He talks at length about his many years performing for John Williams, from the first gig in 1973 to the success of scores like Jaws, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and Jurassic Park, reflecting on the evolution of the trumpet section in Williams’s scores and the challenges of performing very difficult parts on many occasions, but also the fun and the joy of recording source music for Jaws and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. McNab also recollects his experiences with rock legend Frank Zappa, his friendship with Uan Rasey and his many collaborations with Jerry Goldsmith.

For more information visit https://thelegacyofjohnwilliams.com/2020/09/23/malcolm-mcnab-podcast

Legendary pianist and keyboardist recollects his impressive career as a studio musician performing in thousands of Hollywood film scores and his many collaborations with John Williams from 1969 until 2001, including his unforgettable playing on Jaws and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

Very few musicians can compare to the versatile and incredibly prolific career of Ralph Grierson. A legend among studio musicians, Grierson has graced a great number of performances and recordings (including thousands of film soundtracks) thanks to his talent on a wide variety of keyboard instruments, from traditional piano and harpsichord to the most advanced synthesizers, playing across genres and styles including classical music, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, contemporary and avant-garde.

Born near Vancouver, Canada, Grierson began studying music since a very young age. In 1968 he settled in Los Angeles, establishing parallel careers as a studio musician for TV and film (playing all the electronic keyboard instruments and also piano, organ, and harpsichord) and as an interpreter of contemporary music. With Michael Tilson Thomas he made the first recording of Stravinsky's own four-hand piano reduction of The Rite of Spring

Grierson also appeared on a handful of Grammy-nominated albums: Palm Leaf Rag, and the follow-up album, Magnetic Rag, both with the Southland Stingers (a group formed by some of the finest Hollywood studio musicians conducted by) and both containing music by Scott Joplin; and ‘S Wonderful, a collection of George Gershwin’s tunes for piano duet performed together with Artie Kane (a legendary studio musician himself who often performed for John Williams).

He first worked with John Williams on The Reivers (1969), a score that would then became the Maestro’s first Academy Award nomination as Best Original Score—and the work that would pick the attention of a then-very young up-and-coming director named Steven Spielberg. From that moment, Grierson worked on almost every John Williams score recorded in Los Angeles until 2001, a total number of 46 scores. He can be heard playing in iconic scores such as Jaws and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial—he’s the pianist on the unforgettable piano solo heard in the film’s end credits.

rierson performed piano, synthesizer and keyboards in many other classic scores by the Maestro including The Cowboys, The Towering Inferno, Family Plot, 1941, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Witches of Eastwick, The Accidental Tourist, Always, Stanley and Iris, Home Alone, just to name a few (often performing in a keyboard section that included other legendary talents such as Artie Kane, Mike Lang, Clare Fischer, Chet Swiatkowski and Ian Underwood).

Over the course of his 30+ years career as studio musician, Grierson performed on literally thousands of film and television scores, playing for every top Hollywood film composers and includes some of cinema’s biggest hits such as E.T., Titanic, Jurassic Park, Back to the Future, The Matrix. Ralph also appeared as the piano soloist (both on screen and on the soundtrack recording) in the segment of "Rhapsody in Blue" by George Gershwin in Disney’s Fantasia 2000

n this wide-ranging, in-depth candid conversation, Ralph talks about his incredible life and career as studio musician in Hollywood and his collaborations with John Williams on many film scores as pianist and keyboardist, recalling his work on Jaws and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. Ralph also recalls some of his other career’s highlights, including his work with the late James Horner and his soloist work for Disney’s Fantasia 2000. He also opens up about the career-altering injury he faced in 2002 and how his life changed since then. 

For more information and the list of musical excerpts featured in the episode visit https://thelegacyofjohnwilliams.com/2020/08/26/ralph-grierson-podcast/

Legendary flutist discusses his life as a studio musician recording hundreds of film and television scores over 30+ years, including his many collaborations with John Williams in scores such as The River, Jurassic Park and Memoirs of a Geisha

Jim Walker is one of the most talented and celebrated flutist of our times. From classical to jazz to television and film to the concert hall, Walker has brilliantly showcased his incredible musicianship for 50+ years.

In his incredibly prolific career as a studio musician, Jim Walker has performed in hundreds of film and television scores. His first major prominent part was assigned to him by John Williams in 1984—the composer picked Walker as soloist for the Academy Award-nominated score of The River, directed by Mark Rydell and starring Mel Gibson and Sissy Spacek. Since then, he's been part of the flute section in virtually all of John Williams’s recordings in Los Angeles until 2008, including some of Williams’s biggest hits such as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Home Alone, Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List. Walker can also also be heard as soloist/1st flute in scores such as Amistad, The Patriot, Catch Me If You Can and Memoirs of a Geisha.

His versatility and incredible dexterity was appreciated by some of Hollywood’s top film composers including Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner, Elmer Bernstein, Randy Newman, Danny Elfman, Alan Silvestri, and his playing can be heard in box office hits such as Back to the Future, Forrest Gump, Titanic, Finding Nemo, but also beloved classics like Awakenings, Edward Scissorhands, Cocoon.

In this in-depth conversation, Jim talks about his musical life, from his upbringing in Kentucky to his arrival in Los Angeles as the Principal Flute of the LA Phil and his work as a studio musician for films and television scores. He talks extensively about his many collaborations with John Williams, including his soloist work on The River and Memoirs of a Geisha, but also the very challenging parts he had to perform in scores such as Hook and Jurassic Park, offering his own detailed look on Williams’s music as seen from the performer’s unique point of view.

For more information and the full list of musical excerpts featured in the episode, visit https://thelegacyofjohnwilliams.com/2020/08/07/jim-walker-podcast

Talented Los Angeles-based cellist talks on her career as studio musician in Hollywood, her friendship with Yo-Yo Ma and her experiences playing for John Williams on many film soundtracks and recordings

Among the studio musicians who are regular members for John Williams's recordings in Los Angeles in the more recent years, cellist Cécilia Tsan is certainly one of the most luminous and talented of that pool. Born in Versailles (France) from Chinese musician parents, Cécilia started to be immersed in music since a very young age, and began playing at the age of five with the same teacher as her childhood friend Yo-Yo Ma, who continues to be a dear friend and a source of inspiration for her.

After graduating in Paris and attending perfecting classes in Italy, Cécilia started to perform regularly across Europe in classical concerts and recitals. In 1991, she moved to Los Angeles and started to work as a freelance musician. In 2001, she began performing as a studio musician for film recordings.

Cécilia has performed in virtually all of John Williams's scores recorded in Los Angeles during the last two decades, including Minority Report, Catch Me If You Can, The Terminal, Memoirs of a Geisha, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Adventures of Tintin, War Horse and the Star Wars sequel trilogy. Cécilia was also part of the orchestra hand-picked by Williams which recorded the album Across the Stars, the collaboration between the composer and internationally acclaimed violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter

Besides her intense activity as studio musician, Cécilia continues to devote a lot of time to classical music, playing both as soloist in symphonic repertoire (performing cello standards by Elgar, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky and Haydn) and chamber concerts. In 2018, she was invited by Van Cliburn Gold Medal winner Italian pianist Simone Pedroni to perform at the Alagna Music Festival, where they played together the three pieces from Memoirs of a Geisha and the Elegy for cello and piano by John Williams. 

In this conversation, Cécilia Tsan talks with The Legacy of John Williams about her musical career, the incredible story of her family, her friendship with Yo-Yo Ma and her many experiences recording with John Williams as part of his orchestra.

For more information and the full list of music excerpts featured in the episode, visit https://thelegacyofjohnwilliams.com/2020/07/28/cecilia-tsan-podcast/

World-renowned violinist, former concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, discusses his career as studio musician in film recordings in L.A. and his collaborations with John Williams

Hosted by Maurizio Caschetto

L.A. Studio Legends is a new series of podcast talks on The Legacy of John Williams dedicated to legendary orchestra musicians from the Los Angeles area who performed in hundreds of film soundtrack recordings, including many by composer John Williams. These artists are not only responsible for playing in some of the most iconic movie scores in the history of cinema: they’re some of the truly finest and talented orchestra players of the 20th and 21st century. The first guest of this new series is certainly a musician who can be defined in a class of himself, who also enjoyed a global recognition throughout his distinguished career: world-renowned violinist Glenn Dicterow.

Glenn Dicterow has established himself as one of the most prominent American concert artist of his generation and lived through a varied and storied career through more than four decades. He has been the concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic for 34 years (from 1980 to 2014) and served as that orchestra leader under esteeemed music directors Zubin Mehta, Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur and Alan Gilbert.

Before landing the position in New York, Dicterow was member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, starting in 1971 as associate concertmaster, and then becoming concertmaster there before turning 25. During those years, he also worked extensively as a studio musician for film and television soundtracks recorded in Los Angeles (along with many other L.A. Phil members, including his father Harold Dicterow), playing in literally hundreds of scores, including many by John Williams. Among the works he did for him, Dicterow played in the violin section for The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jaws 2 and 1941.

After becoming concertmaster of the NY Phil, Dicterow continued to work as featured soloist for film soundtracks including Altered States by John Corigliano, The Untouchables by Ennio Morricone and Interview with the Vampire by Elliot Goldenthal.

In this wide-ranging conversation, Glenn talks about his long and distinguished career both as concertmaster of one of the world’s leading ensembles and his life as a studio musician, where you can face unexpected challenges. Dicterow offers his own views on how the style of playing in Hollywood orchestras evolved through the years, and how it ties with its European roots. Dicterow talks extensively about his friendship and collaboration with John Williams throughout the years, but also spends time talking about his experiences with the legendary Leonard Bernstein.

For more information and the full list of musical excerpts featured in the episode, visit thelegacyofjohnwilliams.com

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