Scott Dunn – biography

Noted for his advocacy of American and contemporary music, pianist and conductor Scott Dunn has a special interest in cross-over and film composers – ranging from George Gershwin and Vernon Duke to Leonard Rosenman and Danny Elfman. Also a noted arranger, Dunn made his Carnegie Hall debut playing his own orchestration of Vernon Duke’s ‘lost’ PIANO CONCERTO IN C and adapted Leonard Rosenman’s landmark score from REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE for live to film presentation with the LA Philharmonic.

As a pianist, Dunn has recorded and concertized extensively. Early in his career, he toured Eastern Europe for the USIA and introduced many former states of the Soviet Union to the works of Copland, Rosenman and Ives (including the CONCORD SONATA). As conductor, Dunn has served as Associate Conductor for the LA Phil’s Hollywood Bowl Orchestra since 2012. In addition to ‘his’ Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, he has appeared with the Atlanta Symphony, BBC Concert Orchestra and Singers, BBC Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Russian Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony, Vienna Radio Orchestra (RSO) and countless other distinguished ensembles. Dunn, as pianist or conductor, has appeared with numerous headliners, including Trey Anastasio, Beck, Chris, Botti, Bill Charlap, Billy Childs, Elvis Costello, David Foster, Sutton Foster, The Indigo Girls, Sean Lennon, Claire Martin, Steve Martin, and Leslie Odom Jr. among others.

Dunn’s interest in film music stems from his friend and mentor, Leonard Rosenman. Dunn adapted Rosenman’s brilliant REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE  score for  live-to-film orchestra presentation in 2016 and conducted its premiere at Disney Hall. He has conducted numerous other live orchestra-to-film concerts – FANTASIA, RATATOUILLE and STAR TREK BEYOND (premiere) to name a few. He has worked extensively with Rachel Portman, for whom he conducted MIMI AND THE MOUNTAIN DRAGON with the BBC Philhamonic for world-wide 2019 Christmas BBC1 broadcast (Decca 2019); with Lior Rosner for whom he recorded SUGAR PLUM ON THE RUN with the Royal Philharmonic and Jeremy Irons (Sony 2019) and also with Danny Elfman, whom he has helped with numerous concert projects; conducted DANNY ELFMAN’S MUSIC FROM THE FILMS OF TIM BURTON around the world; and performed the Los Angeles premiere of Elfman’s PIANO QUARTET in 2020.

His interest in music outside the usual classical canon can also be traced to his long friendship with the late Sir Richard Rodney Bennett. Through Bennett, Dunn discovered the concert works of song-writer and composer Vernon Duke (a.k.a. Vladimir Dukelsky) whose ‘lost’ piano concerto (written for Rubinstein) Dunn orchestrated and premiered and then recorded in Moscow for Naxos. He edited the Vernon Duke Songbook for Hal Leonard and reconstructed Duke’s THE END OF ST. PETERSBURG oratorio for a 2013 premiere in St. Petersburg Russia. He also worked on numerous other Duke recordings including the cello concerto, violin concerto and complete works for violin with Elmira Darvarova and a ‘new’ Duke musical MISIA (PS Classics 2015) based on the life of Parisian muse and Diaghilev confidant Misia Sert with music by Duke; arranged and adapted by Dunn; orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick and a brilliant cast headed by the late Marin Mazzie. More recently Dunn has, for Jacaranda Concerts in LA, adapted and performed his own arrangement of Julius Eastman’s GAY GUERILLA (2018) and Duke Ellington’s NEW WORLD A-COMIN’ for solo piano and chamber jazz ensemble (2019).

Born and raised in Iowa, he made his Carnegie Hall debut as a pianist in 1999. He is a former assistant to Lukas Foss (whose complete solo piano works he recorded for Naxos) and student of Byron Janis. Of his remarkable musicianship, one New York critic noted  “He is a conductor of great promise, a pianist of note, and a sensitive and intelligent artist. All of these elements came together to give the audience an experience closer to heaven than most of us will get in this lifetime.”