Boyer to compose music for Kennedys project

'Dream Lives On' to be performed by Boston Pops

A Los Angeles composer who has become increasingly active on the film and TV front has received a high-profile Boston Pops commission for a multimedia concert work that features the words of John, Robert and Ted Kennedy.

“The Dream Lives On: A Portrait of the Kennedy Brothers,” with music by Peter Boyer and text (mostly adapted from Kennedy speeches) by Lynn Ahrens, will premiere May 18-19 at Symphony Hall.

Pops conductor Keith Lockhart will conduct the Pops and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus in the 15-minute work.

Robert De Niro, Ed Harris and Morgan Freeman will read the words of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Teddy Kennedy, respectively, during the premiere performances. Alec Baldwin and Chris Cooper will narrate subsequent Pops performances of the work, July 18 and Aug. 1, at other Massachusetts venues.

Video of the brothers will also be screened, helping to “pay tribute to the towering achievements and singular spirit epitomized by the Kennedy brothers,” according to the Pops announcement.

Boyer, who was Grammy-nominated in 2006 for his classical composition “Ellis Island: The Dream of America,” is one of the most performed of contemporary American classical composers. He is composer-in-residence with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.

Boyer also is in demand as an orchestrator on films, including work on “Up,” “Star Trek” and “Mission: Impossible 3” for Michael Giacchino.

“Though the work will be performed in the concert hall, composing the score for ‘The Dream Lives On’ was in many ways like scoring a film,” Boyer said. “I listened carefully to archival recordings of (the Kennedy) speeches while composing, and sought to create the right musical tone for each quote.

“As listeners, we understand these words intellectually, but music can reach us emotionally, and the combination of those two can be very powerful.”

Members of the Kennedy family were consulted and ultimately approved the choice of Boyer as composer.

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