Jules Pegram (b. 1991) writes music modern in its sensibility and sophisticated in its craft, yet full of shimmering colors, boundless energy, and an unbridled lyricism that make it refreshingly accessible. His kaleidoscopic sound-world is influenced by everything from contemporary concert music and the rigors of modernism to film and television scores, show tunes, urban environments, popular culture, and the natural world. In 2013, Pegram’s orchestral work Neon Nights was selected as the winning composition in both the Marilyn K. Glick and Symphony in C Young Composers Competitions, resulting in performances by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and New Jersey’s Symphony in C, respectively.
Other awards include recognition as a Finalist in the 2012 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Competition as well as in the 3rd International Frank Ticheli Composition Contest, the Presser Foundation’s Undergraduate Scholar Award, the Sadye J. Moss Endowed Music Composition Prize, selection in both the University of Southern California New Music for Orchestra and Indiana State University’s “Music Now” competitions, and “Honorable Mention” in the Donald Sinta Quartet’s National Composition Competition. He was also a recipient of the USC Discovery Scholars prize and was named an Outstanding Graduate of the USC Thornton School of Music’s Department of Composition.
Pegram is pursuing the Master of Music in Composition at the University of Michigan, where he has studied with Michael Daugherty and Bright Sheng. Pegram received the Bachelor of Music in Composition (summa cum laude) from the University of Southern California, where he studied with Oscar nominee Bruce Broughton, Frank Ticheli, Morten Lauridsen, Stephen Hartke, Donald Crockett, Erica Muhl, and USC Trojan Marching Band arranger Tony Fox. He studied classical piano with Alin Melik-Adamyan and jazz piano with Yellowjackets keyboardist Russell Ferrante.
Shadows of the Studio (excerpts – Univ. of Michigan, Elim Chan, cond.):
In the Composer’s Own Words:
Shadows of the Studio for Orchestra is my musical tribute to the glory days of Hollywood’s “studio system,” a factory-like production setup that allowed for the efficient, speedy creation and distribution of quality motion pictures, thousands of which are now considered cinema classics. This landmark era of filmmaking spanned from the rise of the major studios in the 1920s up until the studio system’s ultimate demise in the 1950s. During that illustrious period, movie moguls like Louis B. Mayer of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer fame served as helms of production at their respective studios, reigning over a vast filmic empire the likes of which will surely never be seen again.
As Shadows of the Studio begins, we walk through an old studio’s massive iron gates and into an abandoned soundstage, dust-filled and full of movie relics from days gone by. Out of this dark, funereal texture, the music suddenly starts to build, the studio roars back to life, and we are transported back to the glory days of Hollywood, circa 1940. Once the ratchety sounds of a film projector click us into full gear, a lush, sweeping theme enters, something akin to what one might have heard in a classic Hollywood film noir score. As the composition continues, we take an evening flight through the Hollywood Hills, with filmmakers below still hard at work on the set, spotlights flickering outside a premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, and of course that legendary white sign beaming off in the distance. Eventually the music reaches epic proportions, and Tinseltown is at last restored to its former glory. But this grandiose reimagining of a lost era is little more than a dream, and after an explosive climax the piece gradually fades out to its ghostly conclusion, sending the studio back into the shadows of the past.