Slatkin Receives Abu Dhabi Festival Lifetime Achievement Award

Slatkin Receives Abu Dhabi Festival Lifetime Achievement Award
July 2, 2024 leonard slatkin

July 2, 2024

Leonard received the Abu Dhabi Festival Lifetime Achievement Award at Disney Hall in Los Angeles on June 14. The celebration was part of a concert sponsored by the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Festival that featured music by 21 composers and 10 world premieres. This special program honored the visual artist Bob Peak (1927–1992), whose artwork includes posters for the classic films West Side Story, Superman: The Movie, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Apocalypse Now, Silverado, My Fair Lady, and Camelot.

Film music author and historian Jon Burlingame explained, “It’s rare when an evening at the symphony combines music and art so brilliantly. Friday night’s ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ concert was both a tribute to legendary movie-poster artist Bob Peak and a collection of superb compositions inspired by Peak’s paintings.” The Los Angeles Film Orchestra, under the direction of Maestro Slatkin, performed film-music classics accompanied by Bob Peak’s original artwork.

Slatkin commented that his parents played in orchestras at 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. in the 1950s and ’60s. Impresario and host Robert Townson spoke of his relationship working with Bob Peak, having commissioned a portrait of composer Jerry Goldsmith for a Masters Film Music release in 1988. Townson explained that this concert was based on an idea he has dreamed about for over 25 years.

For the second half of the concert, Townson realized his vision of a 10-movement concept inspired by Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. Townson created a modern-day interpretation by commissioning 10 contemporary composers—most of whom are primarily known for their film scores—to pen new pieces inspired by Peak’s non-film artwork. These pieces included Mychael Danna’s moving musical portrait of Mother Teresa, Jeff Beal’s reminiscence of the 1964 New York World’s Fair, Harry Gregson-Williams’s charming “Two Girls with Sparklers,” Don Davis’s powerful anthem inspired by Peak’s 1978 portrait of golden eagles in flight, and an original song tribute for an Audrey Hepburn painting, written and sung by Tony-winner Marc Shaiman.

photo by Kyle Espeleta

The event was co-produced by Robert Townson Productions and the Abu Dhabi Festival. LA Mayor Karen Bass presented a certificate of recognition to the Founder of the Abu Dhabi Festival, Her Excellency Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo, for her unwavering dedication and commitment to global philanthropic efforts and her role as a patron of the arts. Her Excellency presented two Abu Dhabi Festival Awards recognizing outstanding lifetime contributions to arts and culture. The first was presented to conductor Leonard Slatkin, and the second was posthumously awarded to artist Bob Peak. His son, Thomas Peak, accepted on the family’s behalf. Thomas Peak presented one of his father’s paint brushes to Robert Townson.