J.A.C. Redford is an equal opportunity composer. The music that flows from his mind and heart can take shape as a piano quartet, a Christmas oratorio, or a film score for The Mighty Ducks 3. Even in his film scores Redford refuses to be pigeon-holed, since he’s written music not only for family films but for dramas, including the classic Horton Foote story, The Trip to Bountiful. The thread running through all this music is an exuberant, melodic energy. The name of his production company provides a hint as to his larger aesthetic vision: “Plough Down Sillion Music”—a phrase from that most mysterious and haunting Christian poem, “The Windhover,” by Gerard Manley Hopkins. We’re eagerly awaiting his new oratorio, The Martyrdom of Polycarp, written with a libretto by fellow Image contributor Scott Cairns. Oh, and he writes and speaks, too. Listen to him.
Some of Redford’s work is featured in Image issue 38.
Visit Redford’s website here.
J.A.C. Redford is an accomplished composer of concert music, film and television scores, and music for the theater. His concert music compositions span a wide range of forms from symphony, choral music, and ballet, to art songs and chamber music. His larger works have been performed by the American Chamber Orchestra, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the Los Angeles Chamber Singers and the Utah Chamber Artists, at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., and at London ‘s Royal Albert Hall. His chamber music has been performed by the Debussy Trio, the Philadelphia Brass, the Westminster Brass, and Zephyr: Voices Unbound.
Working in the film and television industries for over 25 years, Redford has written the scores for more than three dozen feature films, TV movies, or miniseries, including The Trip to Bountiful, Oliver and Company, and What the Deaf Man Heard. He has composed the music for nearly 500 episodes of series television, including multiple seasons of Coach and St. Elsewhere (for which he received Emmy nominations). Redford ‘s incidental music has been heard in theatrical productions at the Matrix Theater in Los Angeles and South Coast Repertory Theater in Costa Mesa, California , as well as on the American Playhouse series on PBS. He has also produced, arranged and conducted for the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Redford serves as a music consultant for the Sundance Film Institute, a teacher in the Artists-in-Schools program for the National Endowment for the Arts, a guest lecturer at USC and UCLA, on the Music Branch Executive Committees for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He is the author of Welcome All Wonders: A Composer’s Journey, published by Baker Books.
Approaching and finally crossing the half-century watershed this year, I’ve been praying not to “go gently into that good night” of post-mid-life burn-out and resignation. My prayer is being abundantly answered with the blossoming of a new season of fresh challenges and opportunities.
At present, I’m joyfully at work on three newly commissioned compositions scheduled to premiere in the spring of 2004. On April 3rd, Tidestar Pulling, an elegy for orchestra commissioned by the Clear Lake Symphony, will premiere in Houston. On May 3rd, the Utah Chamber Artists will premiere Night Pieces, a setting of three Wordsworth nocturnes for mixed chorus and chamber ensemble. The largest of these commissions, a sacred oratorio for mixed chorus, soloists, and orchestra entitled The Martyrdom of St. Polycarp, will premiere in Columbia, SC on April 18th. This work was commissioned by Larry Wyatt, dean of choral music for the University of South Carolina and minister of music at the First Presbyterian Church of Columbia. It features a profoundly stirring libretto by September 1999 Image Artist of the Month, Scott Cairns.
One of the greatest challenges in setting the story of Polycarp to music centers around the Christian understanding of good and evil. In building musical tension between Polycarp and the Romans persecuting him, I run the risk of subliminally suggesting a dualistic universe in which titanic forces meet in cosmic battle, with the strongest emerging as victor. Yet my faith teaches me that evil has no genuine life of its own, it being thoroughly derivative, a corruption of the good that God has created. Therefore, I’m trying to frame the central conflict of the piece as a conflict between the true and abundant life to which Polycarp is called, and an illusory world represented by the Romans. Polycarp is able to accept and endure martyrdom because he has believed the Truth rather than the lie.
In addition to all of the above, I’m still gainfully employed in the film industry. This year, I scored the music for Walt Disney Pictures’ George of the Jungle II and orchestrated for James Horner on two pictures, Radio and The Missing. In 2004, I’m slated to compose the score for Disney’s next Winnie the Pooh movie.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.