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 Carl Laemmle at Universal, Daryl Zanuck at 20th Century Fox, the Warner Bros., and Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg 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. Our musical flashback is all hustle-and-bustle, in a sonic framework as clean and crisp as a motion picture produced by one of the “majors.” As the composition continues, we take an evening flight through the Hollywood Hills, with filmmakers below still hard at work on the set, chic bars and nightclubs booming, 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.
—Jules Pegram (2015)