Composer George S. Clinton Named Film Scoring Chair
Berklee College of Music announces that noted composer George S. Clinton has been named chair of the college’s Film Scoring Department. Clinton will build on the 32-year legacy of the department and ensure that graduates have the skills to thrive in a field that is undergoing continual transformation. Berklee offers the world’s only undergraduate film scoring degree as well as a unique minor in video game scoring. Clinton is an award-winning film composer who has built a reputation for scoring diverse films including the Austin Powers’ movies, Mortal Kombat, and Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, among others.
“Though we were sorry to see [former chair] Dan Carlin go, we’re thrilled to have someone of George’s caliber at the helm,” said Berklee president Roger H. Brown. “He’s not only at the top of his game in the film industry, he also gives back to the film music community. He has mentored young composers internationally and at the Sundance Institute’s Composers Labs for over a decade. His combination of wisdom, artistry, entrepreneurial spirit, and contemporary skills is exactly what our students need."
Clinton commented on his appointment, “Berklee is a music mecca and, as far as I'm concerned, president Roger Brown and provost Larry Simpson are rock stars. The Film Scoring Department has an amazingly talented faculty, most of whom, like me, are working composers themselves. I’m very excited about bringing my own experience and ideas into the mix and I’m honored to be working with the dynamic assistant chair, Alison Plante, and following in the footsteps of such inspired leaders as Don Wilkins and Dan Carlin.”
Clinton began his professional musical career as a songwriter, arranger, and session musician in Nashville, while earning degrees in music and drama at Middle Tennessee State University. After moving to Los Angeles, Clinton became a staff writer for Warner Bros. Music and his songs were recorded by artists including Michael Jackson, Joe Cocker, and Smokey Robinson. He also continued arranging music and doing session work. As a recording artist, his albums were released on MCA, Elektra, ABC, and Arista. In addition, his critically acclaimed George Clinton Band attracted the attention of Cheech and Chong, giving Clinton the opportunity to score his first film, Still Smokin’ and later, Cheech and Chong’s The Corsican Brothers.
Clinton developed his craft by scoring “ninja” movies for Cannon Films as well as network and cable television movies and miniseries, using his writing skills in a wide range of genres and musical styles. The soulful, erotic jazz for Zalman King’s Showtime anthology Red Shoe Diaries quickly developed a following and brought more public awareness of his work. Soon, Clinton’s musical inventiveness and versatility in both orchestral and popular idioms allowed him to contribute memorable scores to such diverse films as the hit comedy Austin Powers and its blockbuster sequels; the sexy thriller Wild Things; the otherworldly, yet romantic The Astronaut's Wife; the period drama Lansky, written by David Mamet; Disney’s holiday hits The Santa Clause 2 and The Santa Clause 3; John Waters’ controversial comedy A Dirty Shame; and the Emmy Award-winning drama Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. Other projects include The Tooth Fairy and Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay.
Additionally, Clinton has written several concert works and collaborated on three musicals: Family Love and Spirit of the Mountain, both commissioned by the Cumberland County Playhouse, and That Other Woman's Child, which enjoyed critical acclaim and a long run at the Callboard Theatre in Los Angeles.
Clinton has received accolades for his work including a Grammy nomination and nine BMI Film Music Awards. He is the recipient of BMI’s highest honor—The Richard Kirk Career Achievement Award for Musical Excellence. Past composer honorees include Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, and Danny Elfman. A Tennessee native, Clinton was awarded the Spirit of Tennessee Award by the Tennessee Arts Academy for his career achievements and continued mentoring to students.
Berklee College of Music is the only college in the world that offers an undergraduate degree in film scoring. The number of students who pursue this major has grown significantly in the past few years, and the department now counts 360 students as majors. The film scoring facilities include a dedicated set of classrooms and labs with state-of-the-art software and hardware, as well as a scoring studio complex with “live” scoring-to-picture capabilities and two fully integrated digital audio/video post-production suites. The department’s comprehensive program offers students the opportunity for individual, hands-on study in film music composition, orchestration, orchestral mockups and electronic composition, scoring for video games, conducting to picture, and digital music editing for film, television, and other visual media. Berklee also offers a graduate degree in scoring for film, television, and video games at its new campus in Valencia, Spain.