L.A. Newsbriefs

Berklee Center in Los Angeles 

I recently attended the ASCAP Film & Television Music Awards and was reminded of the strength of Berklee's presence is in this sector of the industry. There was an impressive roster of alumni among the award recipients and many other alumni in attendance who are connected to major movies and hit TV series as executives, agents, orchestrators, arrangers, music supervisors, as well as award recipients from previous years. 

Among the composers being honored in the category of Most Performed Themes were Howard Shore '68 and Branford Marsalis '80. Award recipients in the category of Top Television Series included Michael Levine '76 (Cold Case) and Atli Orvarsson '96 (Law & Order, and Law & Order: SVU). Alan Silvestri '70 was also honored for scores to the movies The Polar Express and Van Helsing.

As I write this, the BMI Film & Television Music Awards are still several weeks away, but based on past history, I'm sure that Berklee alumni will again be prominent in the winners' circle at the event.

In related news, Tod Cooper '77 is the music supervisor on the Mel Brooks film production of The Producers, which is due out at Christmas. Prerecords with the film's stars Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Will Ferrell, and Uma Thurman were completed in February and postproduction will happen in the Fall. Cooper is currently traveling between Bangkok, Paris, and London producing the Thai version of Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds, starring Tom Cruise. 

Roger Bellon '75 composed the score to the recent NBC movie The Unauthorized Story of Mork and Mindy. The New York Times stated, "Roger Bellon's eclectic score perfectly captures Robin Williams' comedic rise to fame. A must see!"

Joey Newman '98 scored three episodes of a special reality/docu-series that aired on the Discovery Channel in March. Additionally, he was the musical director and co-composer for Radio Show, a new musical that premiered at the Art/Works Performance Theater in Hollywood.

Hummie Mann '76 composed the score for the CBS movie Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas that starred Emmy Award-winning actress Christina Applegate. Another movie that he scored, Wooly Boys, starring Peter Fonda, Kris Kristofferson, and Keith Carradine, has been released on video and DVD.

Congratulations to composer Steve Marston '76 who was nominated for a Daytime Emmy in the category of Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction and Composition for his music on the PBS animated series Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks.

Another successful distance learning event, entitled the Women Producers Panel, was held in March. Students in Boston were linked via ISDN to a gathering of alumni at Dolby Laboratories in Burbank as numerous career-related issues were discussed. The panel included Theresa Jones '99, Jeanine Cowen '96, and Angela Piva '86 and was jointly moderated by Leanne Ungar in Boston and Terry Becker in Los Angeles.

Former Berklee faculty member Gary Solt '76 was the featured guitarist with the Santa Barbara Symphony, playing the music of Henry Mancini; the Chris Walden Big Band concerts in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara; and the Ventura College production of A Chorus Line; and for 16 concerts in Japan with the Percy Faith Orchestra. Solt, currently on the faculty at Musicians Institute, recently served as a clinician and adjudicator at the Northern Arizona University Jazz Festival. 

Guitarist Tariqh Akoni '91 recently finished an extensive world tour with Josh Groban. He has also played with Alicia Keys, Huey Lewis and the News, and the Backstreet Boys, and he played on the recent VH1 Save the Music concert. Visit http://tariqhakoni.com.

In February, during Grammy Week, the Grammy Foundation's tribute, "Women on Top: Women Mavericks in Music," featured performances by saxophonists Mindi Abair '91 and Sonya Jason '85. Jason also contributed her big band arranging skills for this event.

That's all for now. I hope you are having a great summer!

-Peter Gordon '78, Director, Berklee Center in Los Angeles