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November 7, 2016
William Ross, Alf Clausen honored by ASMAC
Veteran composer-arrangers receive Golden Score Awards by Jon Burlingame
LOS ANGELES—Emmy-winning composer-arrangers William Ross and Alf Clausen were honored with Golden Score Awards by the American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers (ASMAC) Sunday night at the Skirball Cultural Center.
More than 300 members of L.A.'s musical community turned out for the annual event, which was hosted by film critic Leonard Maltin.
Ross – a four-time Emmy winner whose film scores include Tin Cup, The Tale of Despereaux, The Evening Star, Tuck Everlasting and My Dog Skip – was presented with his award by John Williams (with whom Ross worked closely on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in 2002).
"As a composer, conductor, arranger and orchestrator, he is simply as good as it gets," Williams said, calling him "the most genuine, gentle and generous person you'd ever meet... truly a great man."
Composer-producer David Foster praised Ross for "dedication to his craft" and called him "brilliant beyond brilliant. Bill has a way of putting the notes together the way nobody else does." Noting that Ross is a favorite of the notoriously difficult-to-please Barbra Streisand, Foster said that he deserved "the Nobel Peace Prize for Music." And he drew laughter from the crowd when he claimed his last two wives kept asking him, "Why can't you be more like Bill Ross?"
Fellow composer Alan Silvestri, for whom Ross orchestrated more than 30 films, said "things started to change for me when I started working with Bill," adding that Ross was "like a master diamond-cutter – he'd come back with a gem. It's a better industry for all of us because of you."
Director Jay Russell, who has done four films with Ross including Ladder 49, said "I wouldn't be standing here if not for you" and urged the audience to "get our your handkerchiefs" prior to a live performance by the ASMAC big band, augmented with strings, of Ross's touching music for his My Dog Skip.
Video greetings were sent by singers Streisand, Andrea Bocelli, Celine Dion, Josh Groban and Michael Bublé lyricists Marilyn and Alan Bergman; musician Kenny G, conductor Gustavo Dudamel and fellow composer Sean Callery.
Accepting the award, Ross talked about the "duality of my entire career" as both composer and arranger and praised the L.A. musicians because "we owe them so much."
Clausen received his award from his longtime music editor, Chris Ledesma. Ledesma recalled working on Moonlighting back in the 1980s, when Clausen would deliver "perfectly crafted music" despite shows being delivered late, with little time to compose and record. They have worked on The Simpsons together since Clausen's first episode, the second-season "Treehouse of Horror" in October 1990. "Alf's talent is only surpassed by his dignity and generosity," Ledesma said.
The band, accompanied by Sally Stevens' singers, performed several of Clausen's classic Simpsons songs including "The Stonecutters Song" and "Senor Burns" as well as an evocative theme Clausen wrote for a Moonlighting episode. Simpsons creator Matt Groening sent a video greeting, saying "we couldn't do without you. I wish I could be you. Way to go, Alf!"
Clausen has been nominated 30 times for Emmy awards and won twice for Simpsons music. He noted with pride that he has been able to use a 35-piece orchestra of L.A. musicians every week for more than 26 years on the series.
ASMAC president Kim Richmond said that funds raised by the dinner would go toward the organization's scholarship programs, master classes and archival activities.
©2016 Jon Burlingame