Composer donates score of acclaimed Dead-inspired symphony to UCSC Library's Grateful Dead Archive

Composer Lee Johnson (left) presents the score of his acclaimed "Dead Symphony no. 6" to UCSC's University Librarian Ginny Steel (right) at the Cabrillo Music Festival as longtime Grateful Dead publicist and biographer Dennis McNally (center) looks on. (Photo by r. jones)

This summer, renowned conductor Marin Alsop brought orchestral music inspired by the Grateful Dead to the 2009 Cabrillo Music Festival as a tribute to the band's archive being housed at UCSC.

Alsop had heard about the UCSC archive from friends at the Baltimore Symphony, where she is the resident conductor.

She decided to program the fourth live performance of composer Lee Johnson's acclaimed Dead Symphony no. 6 as the centerpiece of a concert commemorating the 14th anniversary of the death of Dead icon Jerry Garcia.

Alsop told the Los Angeles Times that she scheduled the concert in Santa Cruz because "the spirit of the area is in keeping with the band's philosophy, and it is a newly created work in keeping with our commitment to new music."

The LA Times duly noted, "the inclusion of this populist orchestral work on the Cabrillo Festival's otherwise heady roster of compositions is significant."

After the concert, the audience was treated to a Q&A with the composer, along with Dennis McNally, longtime Grateful Dead publicist and biographer, plus David Gans, author and host of the nationally syndicated Grateful Dead Hour.

Johnson then presented his score of the 12-movement Dead Symphony no. 6 to UCSC's University Librarian Ginny Steel--to be placed in the Library's Grateful Dead Archive, which will open to the public in the summer of 2010.