Film Scoring Students Write for Hollywood's A-List Session Players

Listen to student works performed by the musicians behind the blockbuster soundtracks for Frozen II, the Star Wars franchise, and more. 

May 17, 2021

The Hollywood Recording Project, a new initiative by Berklee’s Film Scoring Department, gave select student composers the opportunity to have their original works recorded by some of the film industry's most in-demand session players.

Produced during the spring 2021 semester, the nine-track project features violinists Mark Robertson (House of Cards, The Mandalorian) and Alyssa Park (Godzilla, Aquaman), violist Andrew Duckles (Star Wars, Zootopia), cellist Vanessa Freebairn-Smith (Transformers: The Last Knight), guitarist George Doering (Frozen II, Ford v Ferrari), woodwind player Chris Bleth (Ice Age, The Lion King), French hornist Dylan Hart (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Toy Story 4), and trumpeter Rob Schaer (Men in Black: International, The Incredibles 2).

These elite musicians are the unsung heroes behind countless blockbuster film scores, regularly recording for Hollywood's top composers, such as John Williams '80H, Hans Zimmer, Alexandre Desplat, Alan Silvestri ’70 '95H, Harry Gregson-Williams, Danny Elfman, and others. 

I can't help smiling while listening to their performances. It made me want to work harder, to be able to get players like them on every piece I write.

—Diana Lizhao, student

The student composers said the experience taught them about the importance of score preparation, including making sure their parts were sight-readable and dynamic, as well as balancing real and virtual instruments. "It was a great opportunity to see my composition come alive through these awesome players,” said student Ruth Christina. "Their skills and emotion really contribute to this piece and elevate the music.”

Beyond providing the students with a polished demo track to help them find future scoring work, the project gave them confidence after writing for some of the highest-caliber musicians working today. "I can't help smiling while listening to their performances,” said student Diana Lizhao. "It made me want to work harder, to be able to get players like them on every piece I write."

The Hollywood Recording Project was made possible due to a grant from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. 

Listen to the Hollywood Recording Project:

Related Categories