October 27, 2015
James Newton Howard honored in Vienna, Austria
Presented with Max Steiner Award during gala concert and festival by Jon Burlingame
VIENNA—American composer James Newton Howard was awarded Hollywood in Vienna's coveted "Max Steiner Award" for exceptional achievements in the art of film music on Friday, Oct. 16, at the Vienna Concert Hall.
Howard, the eight-time Oscar nominee who is widely considered one of the finest composers working in Hollywood, told the crowd of 1,800: "In my mind, Vienna existed only in my imagination: a place of dreams, where Mozart and Beethoven walked cobblestone streets amongst palaces and gracefully sculpted buildings. Tonight, that dream for me is a reality. I am humbled to receive this honor in the name of the immortal Max Steiner. Vienna, you have welcomed me into your heart. This is the high point of my musical life. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you."
Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart conducted the ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra in a concert of Howard compositions – more than an hour, the largest collection of such suites ever performed – as part of the tribute. Included were world premiere performances of music from Maleficent, Blood Diamond and The Hunger Games.
Brian McKnight, Louise Dearman and Edita Malovcic sang Howard's songs from One Fine Day, The Prince of Tides and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I, respectively. A medley of music from Wyatt Earp, King Kong, Peter Pan, Lady in the Water, Dinosaur, Hidalgo and Atlantis was also performed, as were individual pieces from The Last Airbender, Signs, The Village, Defiance and Pretty Woman, and another medley of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, the latter two co-written with his friend Hans Zimmer.
Zimmer and director M. Night Shyamalan sent video greetings.
The concert's first half, titled "Tales of Mystery," included suites from Franz Waxman's Rebecca, John Debney's Phantom Manor (a Disneyland Paris attraction), Alan Silvestri's Death Becomes Her, Jerry Goldsmith's Poltergeist and The Omen, Danny Elfman's Alice in Wonderland, the Tom Tykwer-Reinhold Heil-Johnny Klimek Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, Alexandre Desplat's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Hans Zimmer's The DaVinci Code, and Marc Shaiman's The Addams Family (including Vic Mizzy's famous TV theme). Several suites featured choral elements.
Receiving its world premiere during that first half was a concert suite from Stephen King's It, based on Richard Bellis' Emmy-award winning score for the 1990 miniseries. Bellis, who also conducted a seminar for students on Wednesday during the week-long celebration of film music, was present for the debut. The same concert program was also performed on Thursday night, Oct. 15, before another crowd of 1,800.
Said Bellis: "Hollywood in Vienna is a first-class international event which brings attendees not only a wonderful concert in a gorgeous setting, but a symposium and workshops as well."
The concerts were the culmination of Hollywood in Vienna's four-day event. On Tuesday, Oct. 13, a series of symposia was held, including presentations by Howard and Bellis, plus Varese Sarabande producer Robert Townson, composer agent Sam Schwartz, publicist Chandler Poling and Vienna Symphonic Library founder Herbert Tucmandl. Thomas Mikusz moderated round-table discussions on the topic of "Vienna as New International Film Music Location." Approximately 120 attended.
On Wednesday, Oct. 14, composers Howard and Bellis conducted lengthy workshops for approximately 35 young composers and composition students.
Among the participants in Tuesday's symposia were composer Conrad Pope and mixing engineer Dennis Sands, who talked about Vienna's new Synchron Stage – a recently upgraded, high-end recording facility. Said Pope: "In a business where so much is forgotten, it's great to be in a city that remembers so well. It's really wonderful that Vienna takes the time, shows the love and fetes people that deserve to be feted every day. They remind us why we love the movies, but also why we love the music in the movies."
©2015 Jon Burlingame