Palos Verdes award-winning film and TV composer Jack Allocco

Making music with Palos Verdes award-winning film and TV composer Jack Allocco

When we interviewed Jack Allocco for this story, he had just been nominated for another Daytime Emmy Award for his music compositions on The Young and the Restless (20 nominations so far and 10 statuettes to date).

“I think the interesting thing about Emmys is that they are awarded by the exclusive vote of your peers,” he shares. “Only composers can vote for other composers. To be honored by those who really understand your work is particularly rewarding.”

Born and raised in Rochester, New York, Jack’s mother was a big band singer and exposed him and his sister to all kinds of music at a young age. “Because of the weather in Rochester, I spent a lot of time indoors watching television and loved the music,” he says of his childhood. “I knew every main title and the names of all the composers.”

He began guitar lessons at age 4 and was pretty much self-taught until he met an amazing high school teacher named Ray Shahin. “He taught me to sight-read all styles of music,” he says. “I went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in music theory from Nazareth College in Rochester and today am a trustee of that college. After graduation, I did graduate work at the University of Miami.”

Feeling young and restless himself, he knew the only way he was going to live his dream and compose music for television and film was to take a giant leap. That meant a move to Los Angeles, where he says he proceeded to starve to death. He remembers, “For the better part of six months I told my sister back in Rochester that I still didn’t have a job, but at least I was out of a much higher level of work.”

He finally landed a job playing piano at a restaurant in Toluca Lake, right around the corner from Warner Bros. Studio, where many of the actors he had grown up watching would come in as patrons.

Then a break. “One thing led to another, and I got a job as music director for the Hager Twins on the TV show Hee Haw,” Jack says.

“I later became music director and conductor for Robert Goulet and played lead guitar and toured with Australian songwriter and performer Peter Allen.”

David Kurtz, a personal friend, was the composer on The Young and the Restless (Y&R) and was leaving the show. “I asked him to get me an interview,” he explains. “The Y&R producers told me I was overqualified, but I managed to convince them to give me a try.”

Thirty years later, with a shelf of Emmy awards, he’s still playing their song.

His “underscore,” as it is called, is designed to enhance whatever the dramatic intention of the scene is—be it tension, romance, angst, danger, sex, etc.

“That’s all mirrored in—and hopefully enriched by–the score,” he says. “The challenge is to figure out what the director wants.”

Together with Kurtz he also wrote the main title theme and hundreds of hours of score for The Bold and the Beautiful, one of the most watched shows in the world, as well as music for numerous movies. He even wrote the alma mater for Marymount College in his hometown of Palos Verdes.

He’s had the privilege of performing at Carnegie Hall, the White House, in concert for the royal family in London, on stage at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, and he has conducted orchestras all over the world. In addition to his Emmys, he’s proud of his 13 consecutive ASCAP Awards for the “Most Performed Themes and Underscore,” as well as two honorary doctorates.

As summer approaches, he looks forward to his workouts at the gym and maybe taking up golf again. He’s also preparing to teach a film scoring class and to lecture back East. But when he’s not soaking up the South Bay sunshine or enjoying the company of his wife and kids, he’s back creating new music for his ongoing gig on Y&R.

“That show gave me the opportunity to write all styles of music in massive quantities,” he says. “I’m very proud of my work there.”