March 25, 2016
Craig Armstrong Receives ASCAP's Top Film Award
McCreary, Morricone, Wintory earn Composers' Choice Awards by Jon Burlingame
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.—Composer Craig Armstrong, whose music for Baz Luhrmann and Oliver Stone movies has catapulted him to prominence, was honored with the Henry Mancini Award by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Thursday night at its 31st annual Screen Music Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
The Glasgow-born composer's films include Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge! and The Great Gatsby; Stone's World Trade Center and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps; and such other films as Love Actually, The Quiet American, Ray and Far From the Madding Crowd. Stone, who presented the award, said "he sees beyond the ordinary" and called him "one unassuming Scot."
ASCAP president and board chairman Paul Williams cited the "beauty and sadness and heart" of Armstrong's scores; and Luhrmann, in a video greeting, called him "a fantastic storyteller." A chamber-music ensemble played themes from Armstrong's Love Actually and The Great Gatsby, and singer Lindsay Pearce performed his song "This Love" from the film Cruel Intentions.
Also announced were winners of the ASCAP Composers' Choice awards (chosen by a committee of professional composers and industry experts): Bear McCreary (Marvel's Agents of SHIELD, The Walking Dead) as television composer of the year; Ennio Morricone (The Hateful Eight) as film composer of the year; and Austin Wintory (Assassin's Creed Syndicate) as video game composer of the year. McCreary and Wintory accepted in person; Morricone sent a video from Rome.
Among other honors were David Vanacore (Survivor, Big Brother, Undercover Boss), most performed themes and underscore; Timbaland (Empire), top network series; Scott Doherty and Brandon Jay (Orange Is the New Black), top streaming series; James Levine (Rizzoli & Isles), top cable series; and Michael Giacchino (Jurassic World), top box-office film.
Veteran composer Mike Post, who helped launch Vanacore's career by commissioning music for such '90s action shows as Renegade and Silk Stalkings, presented him with the award. Vanacore went to the piano and offered a rare live performance of his music from The Apprentice and Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?.
ASCAP board member Dan Foliart offered a tribute to several composers who died during the past year including Jimmie Haskell (The Doris Day Show), Luigi Creatore ("The Lion Sleeps Tonight" and other pop songs), Ray Charles (The Perry Como Show), Van Alexander ("A-Tisket, A-Tasket") and Ray Colcord (Boy Meets World).
The late James Horner, who was tragically killed in a plane crash last year, was remembered with a video that showcased his music from films including Titanic, Avatar, Glory, Apollo 13, Braveheart, Field of Dreams, Legends of the Fall, The Mask of Zorro and A Beautiful Mind.
Guitarist-composer Grant Geissman (Two and a Half Men, Mike & Molly) led an all-star band on stage, performing many of the themes written by the evening's honorees. Several hundred composers from film, TV and video games attended.
©2016 Jon Burlingame