Portrait of Peter Boyer

Peter Boyer holds the Helen M. Smith Chair in Music at Claremont Graduate University. He is one of the most frequently performed American orchestral composers of his generation, with more than 500 public performances by over 150 orchestras, and thousands of broadcasts by classical radio stations around the United States and abroad. He has conducted recordings of his music with three of the world’s finest orchestras: the London Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Many of America’s most prominent orchestras have performed Boyer’s music, including the Boston Pops, Philadelphia Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Pops, Houston Symphony, Dallas Symphony, and Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, among others.

Boyer’s acclaimed major work Ellis Island: The Dream of America, for actors and orchestra, has become one of the most performed American orchestral works of the last 15 years, with more than 200 live performances since its 2002 premiere. Boyer’s 2005 recording of Ellis Island on the Naxos label was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Classical Contemporary Composition. A performance of Ellis Island with Pacific Symphony was televised nationally in 2018 on PBS’s Great Performances, America’s preeminent performing arts television series.

In 2018, the United States Marine Band premiered Boyer’s Fanfare, Hymn and Finale, commissioned to celebrate their 220th anniversary. In 2019, the Marine Band will premiere the symphonic winds version of his Silver Fanfare at the U.S. Capitol, and include the work on their West Coast tour.

Boyer’s recording of his Symphony No. 1 and four other works with the London Philharmonic Orchestra was released worldwide by Naxos in 2014, to positive reviews and extensive airplay. His Silver Fanfare was chosen as the opening work of the Hollywood Bowl season for three consecutive years, 2015-2017, in sold-out gala performances featuring the iconic rock bands Journey, Steely Dan, and The Moody Blues. In 2015, Boyer conducted shows for multi-platinum recording artist Josh Groban on his Stages tour.

In 2010, Boyer was chosen for the Boston Pops’ 125th anniversary commission, honoring the legacy of John, Robert, and Ted Kennedy. Boyer’s Kennedy Brothers was narrated by acclaimed actors including Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, and Alec Baldwin; televised twice, including on the famed Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular; performed at Tanglewood; recorded and commercially released. The premiere of Boyer’s work was attended by members of the Kennedy family, and received extensive national media attention.

Boyer’s music has been performed in such venues as New York’s Carnegie Hall (seven different works, two premieres) and The Juilliard School at Lincoln Center, Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center and the U.S. Capitol, Los Angeles’s Hollywood Bowl, Boston’s Symphony Hall, Cleveland’s Severance Hall, Dallas’s Meyerson Symphony Center, Cincinnati’s Music Hall, and Costa Mesa’s Segerstrom Concert Hall; and has been recorded in London’s Abbey Road Studios (two albums) and AIR Studios.

Boyer served as Composer-in-Residence of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and the Pasadena Symphony. His music has been recorded for labels including Naxos American Classics, BSO Classics, Koch International Classics, Albany, FWSO Live, and Fanfare Cincinnati. His work has been profiled and/or reviewed by the Associated Press, USA TODAY, Variety, CNN.com, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Dallas Morning News, Hartford Courant, Symphony Magazine, BBC Music Magazine, Gramophone, and many others.

In addition to his work for the concert hall, Boyer is active in the film and television music industry. He has contributed orchestrations to more than 35 film scores, for leading Hollywood composers including James Newton Howard (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 1 & 2, Red Sparrow), Thomas Newman (Skyfall, Finding Dory), Michael Giacchino (the Oscar-winning Up, Star Trek, Jurassic World, Inside Out, Cars 2, Mission: Impossible III), the late James Horner (The Amazing Spider-Man), Alan Menken (Mirror Mirror), Mark Isham (Dolphin Tale, The Conspirator), and Aaron Zigman (Wakefield). Boyer orchestrated suites for Pixar in Concert, which has been performed by major orchestras worldwide. He has twice arranged music for the Academy Awards, and composed music for The History Channel. His music has appeared in documentary films, short films, and a variety of television programs.

In 2019, Boyer received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, which is officially recognized by both Houses of Congress as one of the most prestigious American awards, and has been presented to seven U.S. Presidents, as well as U.S. Secretaries of State, Supreme Court Justices, members of Congress, military leaders, and prominent Americans from many fields.


Fanfare, Hymn and Finale for concert band. 2018.

In the Cause of the Free for trumpet and orchestra. 2017.

Symphony No. 1 for orchestra. 2012–2013.

The Dream Lives On: A Portrait of the Kennedy Brothers for narrators, chorus, and orchestra. 2009–2010.

Silver Fanfare for orchestra. 2004.

Ellis Island: The Dream of America for actors and orchestra with projected images. 2001–2002.

Three Olympians for string orchestra. 2000.

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The Contemporary Working Composer