This Week in Classical Music 8/25/17

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Young Composers Changing the Sound of Hollywood Film;

Millennial composer in London



It’s this week in classical Music, an update on what’s happening in the classical music world; I’m Randy Kinkel.


Young Composers changing the sound of Hollywood film

Musically, most of the movies you see at your local multi-plex are kind of … well…not very interesting. But that might be changing.

if this year’s Oscar nominees for best score are any indication, a transfusion of new blood is pumping new life into old Hollywood.

Justin Hurwitz, who won the Oscar for his score to “La La Land” is only 32—and that was his third score for a feature film.

Mica Levi, only 30, was nominated for her second feature, “Jackie.” And Nicholas Britell is only 36, and scored his first major film in 2015 with “Moonlight”.

it’s not just the youth of these composers that’s making people take notice--These and several others are shaking up the SOUND of Hollywood. Film scores are starting to reflect the sensibilities of a new generation.

Levi’s score for “Jackie,” is unconventional and a little controversial, but people took notice. Levi was classically trained, but until recently was making experimental pop music. She brought that unique perspective to Chilean director Pablo Larraín’s portrait of a grieving first lady.

Nicholas Britell is a NYC native who studied to be a concert pianist but instead went to Harvard & studied psychology. While there, he joined a hip-hop group and made beats on a daily basis. And He ended up borrowing techniques from southern Hip-Hop for his Moonlight score.

This new wave of composers is emerging as young filmmakers,  hire their peers for their projects. the blockbuster category is still dominated by Hollywood’s old guard. But with the new crop of composers getting awards and turning heads, they might have some stiff competition for those Big blockbuster scores in the future.

What’s it like being a millennial composer in London?

This past week saw the world premiere of “Spark Catchers” by the British composer Hannah Kendall --l The music is full of kinetic energy and driving rhythms. 33 year old Kendall has a lot in common with other millennials out there—including having to have more than one job to pay the rent!

Hannah says, “I’m a millennial composer! I have to make money to survive financially in London. I realised early on you need a range of skills for that. As a composer it’s incredibly helpful for me to understand press and marketing and fundraising, as I’m likely to have to do it for myself. It’s not so easy juggling working in an office with teaching --then trying to write your own stuff.”

Her Grandfather was a jazz musician and encouraged her musical  creativity. As soon as she started school her Mom signed her up for violin lessons. Then she studied piano and eventually went to university at Exeter to study singing and composition.

When asked what her top recommendations were for newcomers to classical music, she had these:
Beethoven’s Symphony No 3 for the energy and drive of the opening movement; British composer Helen Grime-- whose orchestral music she describes as having “incredible beauty and intricacy”.