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FMS FEATURE...

August 1, 2017
Richard Bellis Honored by ASCAP
Cited for 20 years of mentoring its film-scoring workshop by Jon Burlingame

(L to R) ASCAP senior director of film and television music Mike Todd with composer Richard Bellis. Photo by Lester Cohen

(L to R) ASCAP senior director of film and television music Mike Todd with composer Richard Bellis
Photo by Lester Cohen

LOS ANGELES—Composer Richard Bellis was honored for his two decades of leading the ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop during Monday night's recording session for this year's participants at the Newman Scoring Stage on the 20th Century-Fox lot.

Bellis, an Emmy-winning composer (Stephen King's "It"), was applauded by the approximately 100 in attendance, including ASCAP executives, workshop alumni, and the 64-piece orchestra that recorded music by this year's emerging composers in the program.

ASCAP's Mike Todd, who with his colleague Jennifer Harmon produces the annual four-week session, presented Bellis with an engraved trophy thanking him "for 20 years of inspiring the next generation of professional composers."

Todd also read a statement from ASCAP president Paul Williams, calling Bellis "remarkable, generous and wise – as crafty and as patient with the young composers as Geppetto. A great teacher and a great composer as well as 20 years of love and service is pretty impressive."

Asked why he continues to mentor young composers, Bellis replied: "When I was learning, I was learning from music editors, scoring mixers, copyists and musicians. This is the closest thing to that, for these people who've got a great education already – but this is from 'the horse's mouth.' That's the reason."

Bellis noted that this is a year of anniversaries: In addition to his 20 years leading the workshop, it's also his 10th year on the board of the performing-rights society and his 40th year as a writer member.

The ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop is a sought-after summer program for aspiring film and TV composers from around the world. Each year, 12 are chosen from among an estimated 300 applicants to learn about the business from fellow composers, agents, music supervisors, attorneys and studio executives. The recording session is the culmination of the program, where each gets 15 minutes to conduct a new piece of music with an A-list Hollywood orchestra.

Both ASCAP and the ASCAP Foundation fund the program, Todd said. "We get to meet the young composers early in their careers and let them know how supportive we are for the long haul. It's a long-term investment, and we're pretty proud of the success and the loyalty that we've built. This is one way to discover talent early, and be a part of their team growing their careers forward."

Los Angeles composer Bronson Buskett, one of this year's 12 participants, said after conducting his piece: "My biggest takeaway from the program was Bellis crystallizing the motion of imitation versus originality – that digging deep into your most nascent musical memories, emotionally absorbed throughout your life, is ultimately more compelling for original writing versus 'what works' or 'what sounds good.' For me, it gave me more confidence to really trust my primordial musical urges."

Buskett was one of six Americans chosen to participate in this year's program. Others were from Austria, Georgia, France, Spain and Japan.

Also attending were ASCAP CEO Beth Matthews, composers and fellow ASCAP board members Bruce Broughton and Dan Foliart, and composer and program alumnus Joseph Trapanese (Straight Outta Compton).

The program began in the late 1980s under the leadership of Oscar- and Emmy-winning composer Fred Karlin. Legendary scoring mixer Armin Steiner has engineered the recording sessions at Fox for the entire history of the program.

©2017 Jon Burlingame
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