Composer talks music experience


Chris Ruiz

Adrienne Albert speaking at LMC Sept. 21

Renowned Composer Adrienne Albert started off her speech to a mixed crowd of Los Medanos College students, staff and faculty by surveying the room. “How many of you grew up in a household where music was a central part of growing up?” she asked. Half of the audience members raised their hands. “Well, music is the central part of my life,” she said, beginning “An Afternoon with Adrienne Albert,” an event hosted by the Honors Program and the LMC Music Department.

Before introducing Albert however, Music Professor Dr. Luis Zuniga and Honors Director Marie Arcidiacono spoke about how important it was to have events like this on campus.

“Honors is so thrilled to co-sponsor this event,” said Arcidiacono.

Then it was time for Albert to begin her tale of success in the music industry.

Albert was born into a family of musicians. Her parents were classically trained in Europe and met at the backstage door at the Los Angeles Philharmonic. She began playing piano at a young age and her parents were excited at the possibility of having an accompanist in the family.

Though she played piano for 15 years, she laid her piano playing aspirations to rest after discovering her passion for singing. This led to many lucrative opportunities leading her to work with music giants Leonard Bernstein, Igor Stravinsky and even shared a performance with Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra.

“[Sinatra] He was one of the most musical people I had the pleasure of meeting. He knew what he wanted and if you didn’t get what you wanted in two takes, then that was too bad,” said Albert. “He had the presence of an iconic figure.”

She also sang on Igor Stravinsky “Mass.” She was sought after for her voice, which was often compared to the voice of a choirboy. She also worked with Leonard Bernstein when she contracted the Sharks and the Jets in the movie “West Side Story.”

On working with Bernstein, she said, “He was a great educator … he loved music and he loved young people.”

Though having an impressive career as a vocalist, she discovered that she no longer wanted to pursue a singing career.

“I sang for 20 years or more, but when I moved back from New York, I realized I no longer wanted to be a singer — I wanted to compose my own music,” said Albert.

She then explained that it’s normal for people to change their minds about their career.

“People who know what their passions are and want to follow them at a young age are so lucky.”

During her presentation, she played a few pieces for the audience including a piece she composed called “Sunswept,” originally titled “Windswept.”

During a Q&A portion of her presentation, she was asked about her biggest struggle as a composer and she replied saying “My greatest struggle was believing in myself.” However, getting older has helped her overcome these struggles. She owes her success to perseverance and believing in her, a process in which she says comes with age and maturity.

As for words of wisdom, Albert advised the crowd to never throw anything away because even if you make something you’re not proud of yet, it can always turn into something else.

On the topic of creating music she said, “Music should come from the heart and the gut — not the head.”