Meeting Alf

April 10, 2008

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Yesterday, composer for The Simpsons, Alf Clausen visited our school and focused on the broadway music that he has featured on that show. I only popped my head in from time to time as my chairmanly duties pulled me away, but the Mancini studio was packed — smelled like a basketball gym in there. Most were sitting on the floor looking up at our big-cheeked, jolly Hollywood buddha, who sat in the corner, surrounded by blinking lights, knobs, computers and other hi tech gadgetry. The students loved him and he gave them hope that their dreams can come true.

We went out to the Sawtelle Kitchen afterwards for some terrific food. I got to chat with him at the end. A wonderful man. Gentle, happy, not at all neurotic or worn down. He uses Sibelius [music notation software] and we extolled its virtues in composer nerd-speak. He doesn’t have to do a computer mock up for the producers — they trust him. “Well you’re Alf Clausen, why wouldn’t they trust you.” He blushed. He said “I’m spoiled: I have a 35 piece orchestra that I write for every week.” Like Bach’s church job I thought. I’ve lost track of how many episodes he’s done, somewhere around 450. That’s a lot of music.

He conveyed a few disappointing experiences that he had had with UCLA in the past. I gave him my take on the issue and I think it helped.

It was an honor to have the man come to visit and just to be in the room with him. Role models are important for young composers too, and Alf is a great one.

Thanks Alf.

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