SXSW: 'La La Land' Composer Justin Hurwitz "Terrified" for Hollywood Bowl Concert

Robin Marchant/Getty Images for Lionsgate
Justin Hurwitz

Ahead of a concert tour kicking off this spring, the Oscar winner performed some of the jazz music that inspired the film and shared stories about the acclaimed movie.

La La Land composer Justin Hurwitz brought the sounds of the "City of Stars" to Austin on Sunday. 

The newly minted Oscar winner joined the crowds at SXSW to give a live performance of jazz that inspired the music in La La Land and then share stories about the film during a piano-side chat.

In a reference to the now infamous Oscar night mix-up that saw La La Land accidentally named the best picture winner over real winner Moonlight, Hurwitz was introduced to the enthusiastic crowd at the Lionsgate Lounge as “the Academy Award-winning composer of Moonlight.” 

Even without the best picture title, La La Land had a good night at the Oscars. The film won six Oscars, including Hurwitz’s two trophies (for original score and original song), Emma Stone's best actress win and Damien Chazelle's best director win. But Hurwitz said he immediately ribbed his former college roommate Chazelle about his trophy haul. “I made fun of him for only having one,” he said. “He knows he’s not going to hear the end of that.” 

Hurwitz spent much of the evening explaining his music-writing process for the film, even playing early versions of some of the tunes. “Another Day of Sun” was largely inspired by The Beach Boys, he revealed, while hilltop number “A Lovely Night” was meant to be more retro. “Most of the songs have heartbreak in them,” he added as cocktail-sipping attendees looked on at Lionsgate's SXSW pop-up, which was adorned with replicas of the lamp posts from the “A Lovely Night” scene and the sign for Seb’s, the jazz club that Ryan Gosling’s character opens at the end of the film.  

Last week, it was announced that La La Land would have its own concert tour, beginning with a Hollywood Bowl premiere May 26-27. Hurwitz will conduct the show, which will feature a 100-piece symphony orchestra, choir and jazz ensemble accompanied by the film’s original vocal recordings featuring Stone and Gosling. 

“I’m terrified,” Hurwitz said of the event. “Getting on the stage at the Hollywood Bowl is a dream I didn’t think would happen this soon. But I think it will be a lot of fun.”

He revealed that many of the musicians at the show will be the same ones who performed for the film. “I’m really excited for people to see the musicians who made the music,” he added. “And it’s a score that I think really features musicianship — the way I orchestrate gives a lot of individuality to the player.”

The event coincided with the announcement that La La Land will be released for digital download on April 11 and on Blu-ray and DVD on April 25.

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