May 13, 2016
James Newton Howard Receives BMI Icon Award
David Newman tributed with Classic Contribution Award by Jon Burlingame
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.—Prolific film composer James Newton Howard received the BMI Icon award for career achievement, while renowned conductor David Newman received the Classic Contribution Award, at the annual Film and Television Awards of Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) Wednesday night at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
Howard, an eight-time Oscar nominee as well as a Grammy and Emmy winner, is best known for such films as The Hunger Games series, The Fugitive, The Sixth Sense, King Kong, Pretty Woman, and collaborations with Hans Zimmer on Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.
BMI President and CEO Mike O'Neill called him "one of the most influential and distinctive composers of our time" and cited "his versatility and his vision" in scoring more than 120 films over the past three decades.
A tribute video contained praise from several directors including M. Night Shyamalan (Signs, The Village), who thought the award should be named after his longtime musical collaborator; Lawrence Kasdan (Grand Canyon, Wyatt Earp), who quipped that he was "too good looking to be a composer" but called him "the perfect partner"; Peter Jackson (King Kong), who praised his "phenomenally Herculean effort" to score the film in a matter of weeks; Francis Lawrence (the Hunger Games films), who cited the composer's ability to bring "magic" via music; and Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton), who spoke of the excitement of watching Howard create music in his studio that "changed everything" about a scene.
Also conveying their congratulations were Elton John, who called Howard "an integral part of my life for a long time," referring to the 1970s when Howard played keyboards for the pop star; and Barbra Streisand, who worked with him on The Prince of Tides.
"More than ever," Howard said in accepting the award, "I hold this job as a precious thing. It's a privilege to write music for films. Our job is to tell stories – to write music which supports the movie in a beautiful symbiosis with the images. Nowhere does it say that movie music should be without substance; both are possible."
Introducing Classic Contribution Award recipient David Newman – another Oscar-nominated composer who has in recent years brought classic film music into concert halls around the world – BMI vice-president for film and TV relations Doreen Ringer Ross called him "the most astonishing conductor" and cited his work with the American Youth Symphony (doing three years of Jerry Goldsmith scores, then three of Danny Elfman music) as helping to prepare the next generation of professional musicians.
Accepting the award, Newman said "we are ambassadors of film music... concert music and film music go hand in hand," citing the energy and excitement felt by crowds who now, by the tens of thousands, attend live-to-picture performances by symphony orchestras – effectively educating people in the role of music in film and demonstrating that this music has value and power.
Also during the evening, dozens of awards were handed out to composers whose music appeared in box-office hits and on top-rated television shows over the past year. Winners of multiple awards included Tom Holkenborg (Deadpool, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Mad Max: Fury Road, Black Mass), Christopher Lennertz (Ride Along 2, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, The Boss), Mark Mothersbaugh (Pitch Perfect 2, Hotel Translyvania 2, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Road Chip, Vacation), Brian Tyler (Avengers: Age of Ultron, TV's Scorpion and Hawaii Five-0), Thomas Newman (Spectre, Bridge of Spies), Atli Orvarsson (The Perfect Guy, TV's Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, Chicago P.D.) and Trevor Morris (London Has Fallen, TV's Vikings).
In TV, multiple awards went to Rob Simonsen (Blue Bloods, Life in Pieces), Blake Neely (Blindspot, Supergirl, The Flash) and Brian Kirk (NCIS, NCIS: New Orleans). Veteran composer Mike Post received his 50th BMI award for Law & Order: SVU.
©2016 Jon Burlingame