34th Annual ASCAP Screen Music Awards
On May 15th, 2019, illustrious composers and industry professionals in film, television, and game music united for the 34th Annual American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) Screen Music Awards at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles, California. A convivial gathering of mutual respect and artistic dignity, ASCAP bestowed top honors upon Michael Giacchino, Pinar Toprak, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, and Nicholas Britell and Gabe Hilfer.
Festivities commenced with a feel-good performance of “Come Alive” from The Greatest Showman by vocal production maestro, Tim Davis. The evening’s host, Richard Kind, actor of Spin City fame and the voice behind many of Pixar’s beloved characters, began his opening remarks with a joke about bondage and proceeded to regale the crowd with amusing anecdotes.
Masterful composer, Michael Giacchino is one of the most influential and prolific voices in film music today, globally regarded for his scores for blockbusters including Up, The Incredibles, Coco, Inside Out, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Jurassic World, Star Trek, and Spider-Man: Homecoming. At 51, his versatile and indomitable body of work has garnered nearly every prestigious award under the sun — an Oscar, a Golden Globe, an Emmy, a BAFTA, three Grammy Awards among numerous other accolades — and now, he can add the ASCAP Henry Mancini Award to his mantle. Warmly welcomed to the stage by Ratatouille and The Incredibles director, Brad Bird, Giacchino used his acceptance speech to speak out on the strained employment conditions and declining opportunities for working musicians in Los Angeles, referring to them as “a composer’s lifeblood.” In a moment of heightened emotion, Giacchino stated, “We have to say no to living under the shadow of a small group of people who use threats and inaccurate information to hold onto a business model that continues to strangle progress.“ Upon completion of his impassioned address, the audience offered a thunderous standing ovation and were subsequently treated to a flawlessly curated medley of Giacchino’s most recognizable themes, performed with aplomb by an orchestra of Hollywood’s finest players led by Gordon Goodwin.
Groundbreaking Turkish composer, Pinar Toprak received the coveted Shirley Walker Award, which celebrates those whose achievements have contributed to diversity in film and television music. Active in the field since 2004, Toprak is best known for her powerful musical treatments for the internationally acclaimed video game, Fortnite, Syfy’s Superman prequel series, Krypton, and Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s Captain Marvel. Earlier this year, Toprak achieved an incredible record-breaking feat with her valiant score for Captain Marvel, serving as the first female composer of a Marvel film, holding the title for highest grossing film scored by a woman — $1.126 billion to be precise. Prior to the ceremony, Pinar revealed her thoughts about being chosen as this year’s recipient, “It’s an incredible honor. Shirley Walker was a composer I looked up to. There were not many examples of female composers especially when I first started writing. She was definitely the one that really inspired me and made me think that this was possible. I’m speechless.”
There to present Toprak with the Shirley Walker Award was her dear friend, David Ellison, founder and CEO of Skydance Media, who reflected on his longtime belief in her artistry, dating back to their first collaboration on his student film fifteen years ago. Toprak used her platform to express her gratitude to the elite industry executives that showed her support early on, citing top agents Richard Kraft and Laura Engel, as well as Michael Todd, ASCAP’s AVP of Film & TV Music / Visual Media. Toprak’s touching acceptance speech came to a close with a tribute to her two small children, who gazed up at her from the audience, and was followed by a vibrant performance of her music from Pixar’s computer-animated short, Purl.
Often described as a contemporary Rodgers and Hammerstein, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul are the Oscar, Grammy, Golden Globe, and Tony-winning songwriters behind Damien Chazelle’s La La Land and Michael Gracey’s The Greatest Showman, as well as hit Broadway musical, Dear Evan Hansen. Creating together since their days at the University of Michigan, the dynamic pair have played a significant role in the reinvigoration of the public’s interest in musical theater. Stephen Schwartz, Broadway titan and mentor to the songwriting duo, presented them with the Vanguard Award, celebrating artists whose innovative work is helping to shape the future of music. The admiration was magnified by video testimonials from Hugh Jackman, James Corden, and their Aladdin collaborator, composer Alan Menken. This event was a historical occurrence, marking the first time an award of its kind was dispensed at the ASCAP Screen Music Awards. Accomplished actress and vocalist, Keala Settle who portrayed the bearded lady in The Greatest Showman, delivered an energized rendition of “This is Me” in their honor.
In partnership with the Guild of Music Supervisors, ASCAP introduced the inaugural Harmony Award, recognizing a successful collaboration between a music supervisor and a composer. Gabe Hilfer, fresh off a particularly significant 2018, supervising Crazy Rich Asians, Ocean’s 8, and Venom, and Oscar-winning composer, Nicholas Britell were this year’s chosen duo for their contributions to Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk. After a brief introduction from ASCAP SVP of Film & TV Music / New Media, Shawn LeMone and GMS President, Thomas Golubić, actor Colman Domingo, who played ‘Joseph Rivers’ in the film, took to the podium to elaborate on the emotional impact he derived the sonic landscape of If Beale Street Could Talk.
Over the course of the ceremony, the ASCAP Composers Choice Awards were unveiled. Oscar-nominated composer and last year’s Henry Mancini Award recipient, John Powell won the Film Score of the Year Award for his extravagant treatment for Ron Howard’s Solo: A Star Wars Story. Absent from the gathering, Powell sent in a jovial video acceptance speech, which was received with great mirth by the attendees. Jeff Cardoni, the musical brainchild behind Silicon Valley, Young Sheldon, and The Kominsky Method, took home the honor for TV Composer of the Year. Seattle-based composer, Lena Raine triumphed in the otherwise male-dominated Video Game Score of the Year category for her work on the popular single-player platform game, Celeste.
ASCAP COMPOSERS SPEAK ON THEIR CREATIVE PROCESS
ASCAP SHIRLEY WALKER AWARD RECIPIENT
ON HOW HER LIFE HAS CHANGED SINCE SCORING CAPTAIN MARVEL
“Everything. I’m able to get meetings that I wasn’t able to get before. All jokes aside, it’s about being able to write music that reaches so many people. Because when we’re starting out in our careers, we’re just dying to have our music heard by people. So, to be able to have this platform where so many people from different parts of the world can hear what I wrote, that’s really been the biggest gift.”
ON THE NEXT STEPS FOR MORE FEMALE COMPOSERS TO POSITION THEMSELVES FOR GREATER, HIGHER PAYING OPPORTUNITIES
“I think it starts with us, believing that we can, and we have the same exact rights. It’s about going into meetings and moving around in the world, knowing that we are perfectly capable. When I began my career, and to this day, I kind of forget about the fact that I’m a woman. I think that’s helped me because I never thought of myself having a disadvantage and I think people can sense that. I believe that we are our own salespeople, and the best salespeople are the ones that believe in the product that they’re selling.
So, if you believe in yourself, you’re going to present that aura, you’re going to present that energy to people, that confidence. That’s where it all starts. Hopefully, as we see more and more women doing this, it’s going to become the norm.”
ON THE CHARACTERISTICS OF CAPTAIN MARVEL THAT RESONATED WITH HER THE MOST AND INSPIRED HER MUSICAL OUTPUT
“I’m an immigrant, so when I first came to America, it reminded me of that scene where she first lands on earth, and she’s looking around. I felt that so much as I tried to figure out my place here. There’s another scene where she keeps getting up after all the falls. That also really resonated with me because I’ve had a lot of failures, small and big, and I’ve learned to get up stronger and stronger each time. That, to me, was the heart and the soul of the film.
“[Captain Marvel] is just incredibly powerful, but she also has a vulnerability that makes her character even stronger, so capturing that sensibility was the most important thing for me.”
TOP CABLE TELEVISION SERIES | CALL THE MIDWIFE
ON THE CULTURAL RELEVANCE OF CALL THE MIDWIFE
“Call The Midwife tells the stories of women working as midwives in the 1960s in the poor East End of London, bringing babies to life. The show is the most genuine and pure form of feminism that we have on television today. It shares the experiences of these women — the bravery, sweat, and tears — not only raising children and giving birth but also starting on the path of what is known today as equalitarianism. They were fighting for their rights for abortion, the right to use the pill, the right for women to take control of their own bodies, and the right to work after pregnancy — all the rights, all these things that are now a part of the fabric of our culture. It all started at that particular moment of history, so it is my honor and privilege to write the music for this television show.”
ON THE ESSENTIAL ASPECT OF HIS MUSICAL ATMOSPHERE AND HIS HIGHLIGHT OF CONTRIBUTING TO CALL THE MIDWIFE
“What I really love about the show, is the fact that I can use the Chamber Orchestra of London for every episode. Recording a real orchestra gives emotion to the music that I don’t think is possible to create with just a fabricated, electronic score.
Every episode tells two stories of birth. Some of my favorite scenes to score are the birth scenes — the scenes in which new lives are coming into the world. Sometimes, they are the most simple births, but sometimes, they are very complex, and there are many complications. Sometimes, it’s just a story of the parents. In the UK, we have an average of ten million viewers per episode, and I think the show is very successful because every story is fresh, unique, and universal.
Another thing that is very unique about the show is that even though it’s set in the 1960s, which seems far away, it is still familiar. My mother was watching, and she said, “Oh, I remember we used to have a blanket just like that when you were born.” I think we can all connect to this world because it’s the world of our mothers.”
MOST PERFORMED THEMES AND UNDERSCORE WINNER
TOP NETWORK TELEVISION SERIES | BLUE BLOODS & ELEMENTARY
ON THE STORY BEHIND HIS HIRING ON BLUE BLOODS
“Here’s a great story about Blue Bloods. So, I moved to Connecticut. I lived in LA for forty years, but now, I live up there, and I got a call from a man named Leonard Goldberg. Now Leonard Goldberg was partners with…Aaron Spelling. They did all those shows together. In fact, my very first show in California was called The Rookies — a Spelling-Goldberg show.
So, forty years later, I’m in Connecticut, I get a call from Leonard, and he said, “Look, we’re doing a show in N.Y. Are you interested? I know you’re kind of maybe half retired or whatever?” And I said, “Sure, that sounds good.”
That was ten years ago! Nobody had any idea that this show was going to go to ten years, which is pretty amazing. I guess I should move to Paris next and see if I’ll get any work there. [laughs].”
ON THE GUIDING FORCE BEHIND HIS SCORE FOR BLUE BLOODS
“Blue Bloods is a family show. It’s a procedural cop show, but it has real heart. It’s great because I go to parties, and people say, “What do you do?” And I say, “I write music for TV shows,” and they say, “Oh really? Like what?” And I say, “Blue Bloods” and they always say, “My mother loves that show!”
Now, the age demographic is getting a little bit lower. You know, into the fifties. [laughs] My goal was to make something sort of familiar, but a little more edgy and current. When I write the emotional stuff, I strive to be wonderfully simplistic, but make the point, and be effective.”
ON TOM SELLECK’S INFLUENCE ON BLUE BLOODS
“In the ten years I’ve worked on the show, I’ve actually only met him once, but he is absolutely the big guy on the show. He has real creative input. It matters if he likes a director or a writer, and that goes for the music too. He’s made comments via the producers, like “Hey, that music was good,” or “Just go easy here” — that kind of feedback.”
DIDIER LEAN RACHOU
MOST PERFORMED THEMES AND UNDERSCORE WINNER
TOP CABLE TELEVISION SERIES | GOLD RUSH: PARKER’S TRAIL
ON THE SECRET TO HIS CONTINUED SUCCESS AND ASCAP’S ROLE IN HIS PROFESSIONAL TRAJECTORY
“Hard work, discipline, and my secret weapon — my wife, Lucy. She is always there to support me. I could never have done any of this without her love and encouragement.
If I had to choose something ASCAP related, I would say it was the ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop that served as the gateway to Los Angeles. Lucy and I were in New York at the time after I had coerced her to come from London, and then I was accepted into the workshop, and it served as a launchpad for me.
It was so meaningful that in the last few years, we were trying to find a way to give something back and ended up giving a scholarship through the ASCAP Foundation.”
ON THE FIRST WINNER OF THE ASCAP FOUNDATION LUCY AND DIDIER LEAN RACHOU AWARD
“Our first winner will be announced this year. Jen Harmon [Senior Director of Film/TV at ASCAP] worked very hard on outreach to the French consulate, and I’m so thrilled that we found someone. She’s absolutely fantastic and formidable, and this scholarship is going to help her come to America. From what I was told, she really needed the support, so that means so much to us knowing that we can help her with travel, food, money to network at night, and all of these things composers should not concern themselves with during the workshop. It’s everything we’ve hoped for.”
ON HIS PERSONAL HIGHLIGHT FROM HIS RECENT CONCERT AT CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE
“We had a seventy-five piece orchestra, a twenty piece choir, projections, and everything. I have to say it was a thrill to hear all of it performed. I loved conducting, but I also loved playing some of the Sex and the City music, where I got to play my gypsy jazz guitar. A lot of the musicians who came to perform are A-List session players here in L.A., and there’s one in particular, a percussionist named M.B. Gordy, who has played on a ton of scores, and there he was in the orchestra. I had to lock in with his snare drum, and I just looked over to see him on the other side of the room. We just smiled, and I started strumming away, and we locked in. It’s that moment of magic that you don’t get by sitting in a room by yourself. You only get it when you’re playing live with other people. That experience really reminded me of what I love about music.”
MARK T. WILLIAMS & JEFFREY LIPPENCOTT
MOST PERFORMED THEMES AND UNDERSCORE WINNERS
ON THE CREATIVE SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES THEY SHARE IN THEIR COLLABORATION
Williams: “Both of our backgrounds were formed differently. We were both trained classically, but Jeff spent a lot of time recording with orchestras and orchestrating, and I came up more on the electronic side mixed with classical. When we started writing back in 2001 or 2001, and we put our styles together, it was very complimentary.”
Lippencott: “He had a stronger sensibility for more modern electronic music and coming up in the mid-’80s in the studio scene in Nashville, I was much more steeped in the orchestral world. We fused our styles together.
Honestly, when you look at the bulk of the television we do, alternative and reality, you hear that [sound]. Now it’s actually become the norm. It’s not as unique as it was when we were starting.”
ON THE REWARDS AND CHALLENGES OF SCORING REALITY TELEVISION
Wiliams: “I think I’ll start with the challenges. The music is wall-to-wall, and we don’t always have control over final picture edits because it goes in the hands of a really large team of editors. So, if you were to take a scripted series or a film, you would usually have one, maybe two editors working on that. In reality competition, you have teams of usually four or five editors on the network shows per episode, and you may have four episodes. So, the sheer volume of music that we have to produce would be the challenge, as well as us relinquishing creative control.
The flip side of that coin is that we are able to focus on creating, as opposed to dialing and conforming every single frame to picture. So, there’s a trade-off. Some of the music, or a lot of it, is not even ever realized and heard by the viewing audience because maybe a different mix was used or it was cut in a way we didn’t really envision.”
Lippencott: “He’s exactly right. The fact of the matter is, we don’t get the crutch of picture because we write a lot of the music before the show is ever shot. So, when someone comes to us and asks, “What is the Shark Tank supposed to sound like when they come through the tank?”, we don’t even have a visual on that. We actually have to conjure it up in our heads. The great part of it is that you’re not really given any bounds, but on the other side of it, you’re also not being given anything to help you. That’s what makes it a challenge, but it’s fun.”
TOP NETWORK TELEVISION SERIES | S.W.A.T. & THE CROSSING
ON THE MOST POWERFUL BENEFIT HE’S ACCRUED FROM AFFILIATING WITH ASCAP
“ASCAP really provides a sense of family and solidarity. I’m originally from Canada, and the very first thing I did when I landed in L.A. was to attend the ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop. It was the beginning of my experiences as an ASCAP member, and it truly felt like being a family member.
In this day and age, with streaming disrupting the broadcast industry, we need to celebrate the collective solidarity we have, and ASCAP is a really, really, strong organization, banding together of music creators. It has become more and more critical to reconnect every year to stand up for our rights and fight for royalties, which are endangered.”
ON THE EVOLVING MEDIA LANDSCAPE AND ITS IMPACT ON HIS PROFESSION
“I would say 90-95% of my work has been on broadcast television, so in a way, I’m adjacent to a lot of change. I will say that the advent of streaming has introduced binge watching. A lot of my composer friends who work on streaming shows are able to record all of their music for an entire season at once in a series of sessions. Unfortunately, with broadcast schedules, it’s not always possible to do things that way, but it has changed expectations overall.
Pleasantly, I think streaming platforms have upped the game critically. Because of the explosion of content, I feel like there’s a lot of really great television being made because it’s a bigger survival of the fittest race. As a result, we have shows like Game of Thrones, which are on par with the entertainment value of theatrical films. I also recently watched this show called You on Netflix scored by a friend of mine, Blake Neely. That series had not fared as well when it aired on traditional television, but Netflix re-marketed it, and now, it’s a hit.”
TOP BOX OFFICE FILMS| THE FIRST PURGE
ON HIS MUSICAL DIRECTION FOR THE FIRST PURGE
“It was an interesting project to come onto, especially being the fourth movie in a franchise. There was a lot there to draw from. I thought about what one might hear on the night of the Purge like screams, incorporating those sounds into musical instruments to sprinkle into the tapestry. In developing themes, I wanted there to be a constant emotional element.
There’s a strong undercurrent of social commentary throughout the film, especially on black representation in America and minorities in general. The director wanted to address the ongoing issues of racism in our country, so we incorporated elements like field chants, metals and chains clanking, stomping, clapping, humming, anything that might be associated with early African American music.”
ON HIS COLLABORATIVE DYNAMIC WITH DIRECTOR, GERARD MCMURRAY
“We come from very different backgrounds. He’s from Louisiana, and I’m from the Northwest, but we’ve been able to connect very strongly and create an emotional bond.
We’ve developed a close friendship through working on these films and sharing ideas. We have surface differences, but I think we have a core communication style. I really understand where he’s coming from. If there’s a certain emotional aspect that he might not be able to articulate initially, I’ve learned what he means and can be like, “Gerard, I got you.” It’s been really nice to bond over the emotional approach we both take towards music and film.
We’ll be digging into another project soon. It’s a film called Silver Bear, starring Michael B. Jordan, who will be playing a hit man. It should be a lot of fun.”
MOST PERFORMED THEMES AND UNDERSCORE WINNER
TOP NETWORK TELEVISION SERIES | THE VOICE & ELLEN’S GAME OF GAMES
TOP CABLE TELEVISION SERIES | PROJECT RUNWAY ALL STARS
ON THE FUNDAMENTAL COMPONENTS OF HIS MUSIC FOR THE VOICE
“They want it to feel like someone’s going to get killed in the gladiator ring, so the tension is like dun, dun, dun, dun. We created this Ironman meets [Hans] Zimmer type score, and the rest of the package is making beds of music for the contestants. You know, somebody might be from a small town or somebody might come from a big city, so those are factors.
My parents always go, “What do you do on The Voice?” And I go, “It’s everything you don’t notice about the show.” Because the performances are what people tune in for, but the underscore keeps it moving and enhances the drama of it all.”
ON THE MUSICAL DEVICES THAT PLAY ON PEOPLE’S EMOTIONS IN REALITY TELEVISION
“I would say, minor chords. God bless minor chords and giant orchestral hits that come in like from EastWest or KONTAKT. When you combine those elements, people really feel as if they are entering a real gladiator ring. On Ellen’s Game of Games, it is a different speed, and Project Runway is more like modern pop, but we get to flex all sorts of muscles with these shows.”
ON THE MOST UNUSUAL PLACEMENT OF JINGLE PUNKS MUSIC
“Our libraries are kind of everywhere. Not only do we do YouTube, but also GoPro. We’ve basically white-labeled the idea of building and selling specific catalogs to different media companies. TV is where the action’s at, but there is an all-new digital world out there with podcasts and social media.
Right now, I have a filter on Snapchat featuring my song, “Chips N’ Guacamole.” It’s had over 200 million impressions over the last week because Kylie Jenner put up a post of her listening to my goofy kid song. We also did a remix of an EDM version of Meow Mix that got heard by almost a billion people as part of a campaign. You can never predict where the hits are going to come from, so you just have to keep making stuff. It’s been a wild ride.”
AND THE WINNERS ARE ...
ASCAP HENRY MANCINI AWARD
ASCAP SHIRLEY WALKER AWARD
ASCAP VANGUARD AWARD
BENJ PASEK & JUSTIN PAUL
ASCAP HARMONY AWARD
GABE HILFER & NICHOLAS BRITELL
IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK
2018 FILM SCORE OF THE YEAR
Solo: A Star Wars Story
2018 TV COMPOSER OF THE YEAR
2018 VIDEO GAME SCORE OF THE YEAR
MOST PERFORMED THEMES AND UNDERSCORE
Didier Lean Rachou
Mark T. Williams
TOP TELEVISION SERIES
13 Reasons Why (Netflix)
Matt Bowen, Mark Petrie & Brad Segal
Bachelor in Paradise (ABC)
The Bachelor (ABC)
The Bachelorette (ABC)
Big Brother (CBS)
Blue Bloods (CBS)
Chicago Fire (NBC)
Chicago PD (NBC)
Antonio Beliveau, Dan Foliart & Howard Pearl
The Conners (ABC)
Marc Fantini, Steffan Fantini & Scott Gordon
Criminal Minds (CBS)
The Crossing (ABC)
Designated Survivor (ABC)
Ellen’s Game of Games (NBC)
The Good Doctor (ABC)
Joshua Atchley, Russell Emanuel
Little Big Shots (NBC)
Madam Secretary (CBS)
Jay Ferguson & James Levine
NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS)
New Amsterdam (NBC)
Dan Foliart & Howard Pearl
Wendy Melvoin & Lisa Coleman
Shades of Blue (NBC)
Bob Thiele Jr.
Superior Donuts (CBS)
Jared Gutstadt, Jeff Peters, Martijn Schimmer & Jordan Sears
The Voice (NBC)
Michael Lord & Fred Coury
The Wall (NBC)
Scott Icenogle & Lior Rosner
Will & Grace (NBC)
Young Sheldon (CBS)
90 Day Fiance: Before 90 Days (TLC)
Ballmastrz: 9009 (Adult Swim)
Call The Midwife (PBS)
Jeffrey Hayat & Dennis McCarthy
Curse of Oak Island (History)
Michael Brook, Kari Kimmel
The Fosters (Freeform)
Didier Lean Rachou
Gold Rush: Parker’s Trail (Discovery)
If Loving You Is Wrong (OWN)
David Vanacore, Joseph Greenier & Brandon Thompson
Ink Master (Paramount)
Russell Emanuel, Joshua Atchley, David Vanacore, & Brandon Thompson
Live PD (A&E)
Major Crimes (TNT)
Bob Thiele Jr.
Mayans M.C. (FX)
Jorge Eduardo Murguia-Pedraza
Mi Marido Tiene Familia (Univision)
Project Runway: All Stars (Lifetime)
Gustavo Bolivar & Robert Taylor
Sin Senos Sí Hay Paraíso (Telemundo)
Star Wars: Forces of Destiny (Disney Channel)
Alex Ebert, Tim Anderson & Filip Nikolic
Teen Mom OG (MTV)
Ron Wasserman, Elizabeth Gerrard & Matthew Gerrard
The Thundermans (NICK)
The Walking Dead (AMC)
When Calls The Heart (Hallmark)
TOP BOX OFFICE FILMS
Jon Brion & Geoff Zanelli
Disney’s Christopher Robin
The First Purge
John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
Incredibles 2, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
Mary Poppins Returns
Maze Runner: The Death Cure
Mission: Impossible - Fallout
Operation Red Sea
Pacific Rim Uprising
A Quiet Place
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Interviewers | Ruby Gartenberg, Alex Sicular
Editing, Copy, Layout | Ruby Gartenberg
Special thank you to Shawn LeMone, Cathy Nevins, Michael Todd, and Bobbi Marcus.