'Mission: Impossible' Composer Lalo Schifrin Set to Be Honored With 85th Birthday Concert: Exclusive

Frederic REGLAIN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Lalo Schifrin performs on Nov. 16, 2001 In Auxerre, France.

Legendary composer and conductor Lalo Schifrin, best known for writing the Mission: Impossible theme, will be honored on his 85th birthday with a concert Oct. 7 at the Alex Theater in Glendale, California.

In addition to Mission: Impossible, the six-time Academy Award nominee has scored more than 100 films, including Bullitt, Cool Hand Luke, Dirty Harry, The Cincinnati Kid and The Competition. He has five Grammys.

Schifrin is expected to attend, as are Oscar-winning songwriters Alan and Marilyn Bergman and Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino, as well as a number of other special guests.

Conductor Chris Walden will lead an all-star big band through Schifrin’s best-known works, while Robert Townson, Varese Sarabande VP of soundtrack A&R, will play host. 

“Lalo Schifrin has always been an utterly unique voice in film music. Like all great musicians, he is the product of the life he has led -- where he comes from, and all of the influences around him from those he worked with or idolized,” Townson says.


Raised in Buenos Aries, Schifrin began piano lessons with Enrique Barenboim at the age of 6. At 20, he studied music at the Paris Conservatory by day and played piano at night in clubs with Astor Piazzolla. Schifrin performed and arranged music for both Dizzy Gillespie and Xavier Cugat before moving into film.

“Lalo is one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time, and when it comes to film music he has always been the epitome of cool at the movies,” Townson continues, calling Schifrin’s works “as fresh today as they were the day they were written.”

The Musicians at Play Foundation and AFM Local 47’s The Music Fund of Los Angeles are presenting the concert in association with Varese Sarabande. Proceeds from the concert, as well as a silent auction and pre-concert VIP reception, will support music education in schools and aid professional musicians in crisis.

“In addition to being a brilliant musician and composer, Lalo has been a member of the union for nearly 50 years since coming to the U.S. from Argentina,” says John Acosta, president of Local 47. “Thousands of AFM members have worked with him through the years on his music and there is a real connection between him and the music community. This is the inaugural concert by the AFM and Local 47 to celebrate a composer and their legacy. Lalo Schifrin is such an inspiration and we are thrilled to honor him.”