Composer David Amram to visit upper school next week as artist in residence


Jin Tuan

Composer David Amram, who will be visiting the upper school as this year’s artist in residence. His visit begins tomorrow and will last throughout the week, and he will host a number of workshops, lectures and talks for students to learn more about music and art.

by Kathy Fang and Jin Tuan

Award-winning composer David Amram will travel to the upper school next week as this year’s artist in residence, bringing a series of music workshops, lectures and performances.

A lifelong musician, Amram began his journey in composition by scoring films in Hollywood, but soon set off on his own path on composing original music reflecting his personal values.

“That’s not what was in his heart. He wanted to make original music that spoke to him. And he didn’t want to simply be making music for movies,” said upper school English teacher Charles Shuttleworth, who helped organize Amram’s visit. “He also didn’t like Hollywood and the whole system out there. He felt confined.”

Amram has traveled the world, gathering musical styles which he infuses into his classical compositions. His recent commission exhibits just a few of the rhythms he’s collected.

“The piece that he had at Symphony Silicon Valley had echoes of folk, it had echoes of blues, and it had echoes of jazz and blues, jazz and then finally, Latin music,” Shuttleworth said. “He’s very eclectic. He follows his own heart, and so I find it really inspiring.”

Tomorrow, Amram will begin his visit with the upper school orchestra and teach at various upper school music classes throughout the week. Amram will then host a workshop during lunch on Tuesday in partnership with CareerConnect. The workshop is entitled “Making Your Music Career Profitable,” and Amram will speak to interested students on how artists build their business.

During Thursday’s lunch, Amram will be hosting an “Amram Jam” session for students to bring their music or any other creative work and improvise with Amram. Throughout the week, up to 14 students every day can sign up to spend lunches with Amram and talk to him about music and art in general.

To cap off his week at the upper school, Amram will be hosting a Speaker Series lecture and performance on Friday at 7 p.m. in the Patil Theater, where he will be talking about his life’s work and playing music with the upper school orchestra and jazz band.

“[Amram’s] spontaneity, not just in terms of jazz improvisation in what notes he chooses to play and what instrument and what pieces—I think I’m excited about that, and obviously, just listening and learning from all of his stories and his career as a composer, arranger and incredible musician,” said Kalyan Narayanan (12), who helped Shuttleworth prepare for Amram’s visit.