Lalo Schifrin 85th Birthday Bash at the Alex

Alex Theatre in Glendale

The 85th birthday of composer Lalo Schifren will be celebrated with a concert at the Alex Theatre in Glendale. (Photo courtesy Downtown Glendale Association)

Composer Michael Giacchino and songwriters Alan and Marilyn Bergman are among those who will be on hand to help celebrate the 85th birthday of legendary scoremaster Lalo Schifren, Oct. 7 at the historic Alex Theatre in downtown Glendale. The  special event is the first in what is to become an annual tribute by the American Federation of Musicians to honor distinguished members, and will benefit music education in schools and assist professional musicians in crisis.

The concert will be conducted by Chris Walden and feature an all-star big band performing many of the Argentine-born Schifrin’s best-known works. “This is the inaugural concert by the AFM and Local 47 to celebrate a composer and their legacy,” Local 47 president John Acosta explained. “Lalo has been a member of the union for nearly 50 years since coming to the U.S. Thousands of AFM members have worked with him and there is a real connection with the music community. Lalo Schifrin is an inspiration and we are thrilled to honor him.”

The AFM Local 47’s Music Fund of Los Angeles and Musicians at Play Foundation are presenting the event in association with Varese Sarabande, whose Robert Townson hosts. As head of Varese, Townson has the distinction of being called “the most prolific producer of film music in the world” with an extraordinary track record averaging one new album release a week for more than 25 years, including many albums by Schifren.

“The purpose of music is to get to the emotions of people” Schifren once told Bruce Duffie,  a Chicago classical radio DJ, and Schifren’s own music surely does. A pianist, composer, arranger and conductor, Schifren is best known for a body of film and TV music that includes iconic “Theme from Mission: Impossible” and the “Theme from Mannix.” At the age of 20 Schifren won a scholarship at the Paris Conservatoire, which he began attending in 1952, studying the classics by day and playing the jazz clubs by night.

Lalo Schifren holding gold music note trophy

Lalo Schifren collects his BMI Max Steiner Award at Hollywood in Vienna 2012. (Photo courtesy BMI)

Returning to Argentina after graduating, he formed a jazz band and met Dizzy Gillespie, for whom he would compose several original works, eventually joining his band as pianist and moving to New York.  He also performed and arranged fo Xavier Cugat before seguing to film and television work, where his training in both classical and jazz served him well on scores including Enter the Dragon, The Fox, Cool Hand Luke, Bullitt, The Amityville Horror, Rush Hour and many more.

Schifrin met the actor Clint Eastwood while writing the music for director Don Siegel’s Coogan’s Bluff and went on to score four Dirty Harry films in addition to Eastwood’s own directorial effort, Sudden Impact. “It was a very nice collaboration,” Schifren told AMC. “He really had great confidence in me, especially concerning the Dirty Harry sequels. He liked my music, but more importantly, he didn’t tell me what to write.” According to IMDB, he has served as composer for more than 200 film and television works, a prodigious output that led to five Grammy Awards and six Academy Award nominations.

The 92-year-old Alex Theatre has distinctions of its own, including what the Los Angeles Times described as “vaudeville-era neo-Greek architecture.” In May the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation named the Alex Theatre of the Year, an honor it shares with Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and the Theatre at Ace Hotel. It is on the  National Register of Historic Places, and the Alex Film Society, Glendale Youth Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Los Angeles Ballet and L.A. Gay Men’s Chorus all make homes there.

The Alex Theatre is located at 216 N. Brand Blvd in Glendale.  For Tickets call (818) 243-ALEX (2539) or visit For information about becoming an Event Sponsor, call Cindy Pease at 818-257-0733 or visit


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