An Evening With Maestro William Kraft


Mike Lang interviews composer William Kraft about his life in music scoring and conducting films, working with Stravinsky and serving as composer in residence for the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta.

William Kraft has had a long and active career as composer, conductor, timpanist/percussionist and teacher.  Among his many accomplishments, he has been commissioned by the Library of Congress, U.S. Air Force Band, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Kronos Quartet, and the Schoenberg Institute, among others.  His works have been performed by the New York, and Los Angles philharmonics, Boston and Chicago symphonies, the Philadelphia Orchestra and other major American ensembles, as well as orchestras and ensembles in Europe, Japan, Korea, China, Australia, Israel, and the former USSR.  During his 26-year tenure with the Los Angeles Philharmonic he was composer-in-residence, founded the LA Philharmonic New Music Group (now Green Umbrella), and was principal timpanist for 18 years, as well as assistant conductor.  He is Professor Emeritus at the University of California Santa Barbara, where he served for 11 year as the Corwin Chair.

Kraft has received prestigious awards from numerous institutions, including the Ford Foundation, Huntington Hartford Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts, in addition to Kennedy Center Friedheim Awards, Guggenheim Fellowships and the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Music Award, among many others.  CDs completely devoted to Kraft’s music can be found on Harmonia Mundi, CRI, Cambria, Albany, Cristal and Nonesuch labels.  Recent projects include commissions for Boston Musica Viva and the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet.

Mike Lang is one of the premiere musical talents in Los Angeles. Mike is both a freelance jazz musician and sought-after studio artist, with a career spanning records, motion pictures and television. A 3-time winner of the coveted “MVP” Grammy award from NARAS and recipient of numerous Gold Records, Mike has built a career as an accompanist for an encyclopedic body of artists including Ray Charles, Natalie Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Vince Gill, InSync, Milt Jackson, Lee Konitz, Diana Krall, John Lennon, Arturo Sandoval, Barbra Streisand, Josh Groban and Frank Zappa. Mike has also played with some of the biggest names in jazz, such as Lee Ritenour, Oliver Nelson, Bud Shank, Don Ellis, Shelly Manne, and Stan Kentonhas and written songs for jazz notables including Stan Getz, Herb Alpert and Dave Grusin.

He has recorded more than 2000 scores, working with virtually every major film composer including John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, James Newton Howard, Henry Mancini, Elmer Bernstein and Hans Zimmer, with numerous screen credits for solo appearances. He has premiered jazz piano concerti written especially for him by Byron Olson and Brad Dechter.

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