Portrait of Peter Boyer
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  • Degrees
    Doctor of Music (Honorary), Rhode Island College
    Graduate Certificate, USC
    MM, DMA, The Hartt School of Music, University of Hartford
    BA, Rhode Island College
  • Research Interests
    Composition, Conducting, American film music, 20th- and 21st-Century music, American composers

Peter Boyer holds the Helen M. Smith Chair in Music at Claremont Graduate University and is a Grammy-nominated orchestral composer. He is one of the most frequently performed American orchestral composers of his generation, with more than 400 public performances by over 150 orchestras and thousands of broadcasts by classical radio stations in the United States and abroad. He has conducted recordings of his music with three of the world’s most prominent orchestras: the London Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Boyer has been commissioned by such institutions as the Boston Pops Orchestra, Pacific Symphony, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Eastern Music Festival, Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, Pasadena Symphony, and the American Composers Forum. His music has been commissioned, performed, and recorded by prominent American conductors, including Gerard Schwarz, Keith Lockhart, Carl St. Clair, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, John Morris Russell, Thomas Wilkins, David Charles Abell, Robert Moody, Lawrence Golan, and Raymond Harvey. His music has been recorded for labels including Naxos American Classics (two albums), BSO Classics, Koch International Classics, Albany, FWSO Live, and Fanfare Cincinnati.

Boyer’s most recent recording, featuring his Symphony No. 1 and four other works with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, was released worldwide by Naxos in 2014. Boyer’s Silver Fanfare was chosen to open the Hollywood Bowl’s seasons in both 2015 and 2016, in sold-out gala performances featuring the iconic rock bands Journey and Steely Dan. 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; given 10 performances, including on the Boston Pops’ annual Fourth of July concert for a live audience of 750,000; telecast twice; recorded and commercially released. The premiere of Boyer’s work was attended by many 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 (five works, two premieres) and The Juilliard School at Lincoln Center, Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl, Boston’s Symphony Hall, the Tanglewood Music Center, Cleveland’s Severance Hall, Dallas’ Meyerson Symphony Center, Cincinnati’s Music Hall, and Orange County’s Segerstrom Concert Hall, and has been recorded in London’s Abbey Road Studios (two albums) and AIR Studios. In recent seasons, he has served as Composer-in-Residence of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and the Pasadena Symphony. 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.

Boyer’s major work, Ellis Island: The Dream of America for actors and orchestra, which celebrates the historic American immigrant experience, has been his most successful composition to date. Premiered in 2002, the work has received more than 160 live performances by 75 orchestras. Boyer’s 2005 recording of Ellis Island on the Naxos American Classics label was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Classical Contemporary Composition.

In addition to his work for the concert hall, Boyer is active in the film and television music industry. He has contributed orchestral arrangements to more than 30 film scores, for leading Hollywood composers including Michael Giacchino (the Oscar-winning Up, Star Trek, Jurassic World, Inside Out, Cars 2, Super 8, Mission: Impossible III), Thomas Newman (Skyfall, Finding Dory), James Newton Howard (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), the late James Horner (The Amazing Spider-Man), Alan Menken (Mirror Mirror), Mark Isham (Dolphin Tale, The Conspirator), and Harry Gregson-Williams (Arthur Christmas). Boyer orchestrated suites from the scores to Toy Story 3 by Randy Newman and Wall-E by Thomas Newman for Pixar in Concert, premiered by the San Francisco Symphony and performed by major orchestras worldwide. Boyer has twice arranged music for the Academy Awards, and composed music for the History Channel. His music has appeared in documentary film, short films, and a variety of television programs.


Rolling River (Sketches on “Shenandoah”). For orchestra. 2014.

Symphony No. 1. For orchestra. 2012–2013.

Festivities. For orchestra. 2011.

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.

20th- & 21st-Century Music
American Film Music: Literature & Analysis
American Titans: The Music of Copland & Bernstein
Contemporary American Orchestral Literature
Applications of Music Technology