When it comes to film music, one name seems to pop up no matter how much of a movie aficionado or novice you are. He is a man with numerous awards and accolades to his name and he is responsible for scoring some of cinema history’s greatest titles. That man, of course, is John Williams and on June 8th, 2017, the Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, NY hosted The New York Pops as they performed Williams’ music in a glorious concert setting. It was a truly lovely evening featuring music played expertly in a more than special venue.
There have been many collaborations throughout cinema history that have made a memorable and profound impact on moviegoers. Creativity can only mushroom if likeminded individuals join forces and put forth great art together. Legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg is one such individual and he has been working with maestro and genius composer John Williams for over 40 years now. Their work has gone beyond just art and continues to endure in the collective consciousness of society. The New York Philharmonic recently brought the Spielberg / Williams masterpiece E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial to vivid life as they performed the orchestral score live while the 1982 film screened simultaneously.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…. John Williams exploded into the film music world. He is the most famous living composer today and he is responsible for some of the most memorable themes and most successful movie franchises of all time. His work on Star Wars alone has made him a powerful figure in the film business and at 84 years of age, it doesn’t look like he’s planning on retiring anytime soon. The New York Philharmonic recently performed some of the Maestro’s works at David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center in New York and the results were simply out of this world.
Remote Control Productions is a company run by film music genius Hans Zimmer and employed there, are some of the greatest musical minds working today. This group of composers and musicians currently supplies Hollywood productions with many of their scores. Lorne Balfe is one such individual and in recent years, he has contributed a good amount of said scores. He has worked on Batman Begins, the Kung Fu Panda films, and Sherlock Holmes, just to name a few. His latest effort is 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, a gritty actioner based on real events and directed by action “auteur” Michael Bay. The score is not only hard-hitting at times for a militaristic thriller but it contains tender moments that perfectly capture the effect war has on one’s mental wellbeing.
The film music industry today is pretty much dominated by Hans Zimmer and his disciples over at Remote Control Productions. This stellar group of artists compose scores for many popular blockbusters today. One of their most recent projects is the Michael Bay-directed true story 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. Lorne Balfe wrote the music and it is yet another example of Remote Control’s amazing works. I had the privilege of speaking with Lorne about the film and his association with Hans and Remote Control. Here’s how that conversation went:
In 1995, eclectic film composer Hans Zimmer won an Academy Award for his sensational score to The Lion King. This accolade then saw a new generation of film music and pushed the German maestro into not only fame and fortune in the movie business but made him a household name and saw the birth of new talents which served as proteges of Zimmer and his production company Media Ventures, now known as Remote Control Productions. Zimmer co-composed the first two Kung Fu Panda scores with student and flourishing composer John Powell, albums which contain not just powerful Chinese musical cues but pieces of music that evoke moments of adrenaline-induced action and gorgeous choir. Kung Fu Panda 3 continues to stir deep feelings of inspiration, power, and togetherness and the album is one of Zimmer’s best animated efforts yet, of which there are quite a few (The Lion King, The Prince of Egypt, the Madagascar franchise, Megamind, Rango, The Road to El Dorado, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, The Simpsons Movie, etc.) One can even say Zimmer has become the “new” John Williams.
The Wiz is one of entertainment’s greatest and most beloved treasures. Not often does a musical come along that takes a classic story and gives it a spin that is both energetic and incredibly fun but this one does. 1974 saw the first performance of The Wiz and over the years, it has developed a strong cult following, including a popular film in 1978. With an all black cast which included music legends Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, it is an extremely fun adventure and the soundtrack is something to marvel at as well. In 2015, NBC brought The Wiz back over three decades later, and audiences have recently been treated to a live performance that will linger in your memory for quite some time afterward. The source material and most of the music remains the same and once again, we are taken on one heck of a journey.
The bond between man and dog can be a very special one. It’s a deep bond that is based on mutual respect and in many cases, love. In the new family-friendly drama Max, we are shown how one dog survives and overcomes insurmountable odds and must adjust in an environment he knows nothing about. Acclaimed film composer Trevor Rabin (Armageddon, Remember the Titans) delivers a powerful score for a movie that really doesn’t need much more assistance. Mr. Rabin’s contribution to this picture is sensational and it only adds to its already profound impact. The score he has provided is rich and chockfull of memorable cues.
Wallace and Gromit is an international phenomenon that has been around for well over three decades now. During that time, the British claymation franchise has had a number of spinoffs. One such spinoff is Shaun the Sheep, a charming television series that centers on Shaun, a sheep who gets into random adventures on the Mossy Bottom Farm, a a large patch of land in the northern part of England. He then spends each episode avoiding detection from The Farmer. A feature film was inevitable and this summer sees the release of Shaun the Sheep Movie, a farm-grown picture of epic proportions. The film’s soundtrack is equally epic, featuring a robust score from Ilan Eshkeri (Kick-Ass, Layer Cake).
In 1985, one of film history’s greatest and most enduring working relationships began. Not only has the partnership between these two artists inspired some of the best cinema has to offer but it has brought about some of the most exiting and tender music known to man. I’m speaking of course about Danny Elfman and Tim Burton, a musician/film composer and film director respectively who have been delivering hit after hit for three decades. People in New York were recently treated to a number of live performances of Mr. Elfman’s scores as they were played for many a pleased audience in the Danny Elfman’s Music From the Films of Tim Burton at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall.