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Composers Get Noticed At Score!

James S. Levine conducts sections of “American Horror Story” at “Score! A Concert Celebrating Music Composed for Television” (photo credit: Television Academy)

BY: Marjorie Galas, Editor

It’s a strange contradiction: the art of the score tends to receive little fanfare. The Television Academy, in conjunction with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), decided it was time to turn the spotlight on these seldom seen artists. For the first time, many of today’s most note-worthy composers presented sections of their scores with a live orchestra in front of a live audience.
“Score! A Concert Celebrating Music Composed for Television “was held at UCLA’s Royce Hall and was executive produced by the Television Academy Music Peer Group Governor, Michael A. Levine, Mark Watters, and Lucas Cantor and was produced/directed by Spike Jones, Jr. Per Levine, the group’s goal is to extend the program into an annual event.
The event was hosted by Jon Burlingame, a reporter who regularly contributes to publications including Variety, The New York Times, The Washington Post, LA Times and The Hollywood Reporter. Burlingame is considered an authority on film and television music and eased the audience through the music landscapes that were presented throughout the evening. When introducing John Lunn, the composer behind “Downton Abby”, he asked the composer if he used the various images displayed in the opening credits as inspiration for the score.

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“It’s inspired by the sound of a train that Mr. Carson sees pulling away in the opening,” said Lund. “The mechanics of the train also perfectly encapsulate the mechanism of the two classes.”
Alf Clausen, who has composed the music for all twenty-five seasons of “The Simpsons” revealed he repeatedly turned down the requests he got to score for the longest running animated sitcom in history.
“I had just completed ‘Moonlighting’ and saw myself as a dramatic composer,” said Alf. “I had no interest in scoring animation.”
When creator Matt Groening requested he submit a dramatic section, Alf complied, and has since continued to inject serious undertones to the show’s biting humor.

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“House of Cards” composer Jeff Beal not only delighted the crowd by sharing selections of music composed for the show, including the popular and highly downloaded theme, but also by performing the theme from “Monk” on his trumpet. Arriving late to the event, former Prince backup singers Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman inspired the crowd by indicating their mutual admiration and respect for each other has resulted in diverse compositions for series including “Touch”, “Carnivale”, “Nurse Jackie” and “Heroes.” Bear McCreary shared the intention behind the high tension strings used in the theme for “The Walking Dead”:
“I wanted it to be like an earworm that burrows into your brain and festers there.”
A special Career Achievement Award was presented to composer Mark Snow. Snow has been compositing for film and television since the early seventies, with some of his most notable work appearing in series including “Smallville,” “Ghost Whisperer” and “The Blue Bloods.” His work on “The X-Files” received six of his 15 Emmy nominations. Despite his nominations over the years, he has yet to win an Emmy.

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Introduced by a clip featuring Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) threatening to land a helicopter on the facilities roof to prevent Sean Callery from performing his score, Callery delighted fans with selections from “The Kennedys”, “Elementary” and “24”. James S. Levine, another well respected composer who’s yet to win an Emmy, presented selections from “American Horror Story” and “Glee.” Walter Murphy shared his layered vocal compositions he crafted for “Family Guy.”

See Also: From “Glee” To “Coven”: Composer James Levine

Rounding out the evening were crowd favorites Trevor Morris and Ramin Djawadi. Both composers utilize a wide variety of instruments from around the globe to complete the tapestry of sound created for their respective scores. Morris presented selections from his award winning “The Borgias” and “The Tudors” while Djawadi performed the opening theme from “Game of Thrones” as well as selections from episodes featured in season four.
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