Brian LaGuardia - Composer/Conductor/Arranger

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James Horner

by Brian

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Two days ago, we lost an incredible film composer. I grew up with this guy’s film scores, along with other giants of the time. In fact I am so intimate with his work that I poked fun at it a little here. But the truth is…I wouldn’t be so knowledgeable about his work if I didn’t like it. There are several of his scores that still hold a special place in my heart. I’d like to take the opportunity to briefly go through two of those.

The Rocketeer is a fantastic tongue-and-cheek adventure film set in the 1930’s. It’s kind of the quintessential period piece for that era. In fact, those of you watching Agent Carter will notice several nods to this movie in its first season.

The main theme of this movie perfectly showcases Horner’s gift for melody. This cue is over the opening scene, in which the protagonist takes off in a custom-built plane in hopes of taking it to the national races.

He also wrote – for my money – one of the most moving pieces of underscore in film history: the death and funeral of Spock in Star Trek II. I still can’t watch this scene without shedding a tear or two. Even the buildup to the death scene is brilliant; it’s a montage of the birth of Genesis and Kirk racing to the engine room to try (in vain) to save his friend. It’s scored with a desperate beauty that perfectly describes the inevitability and duality of life and death.

Rest in piece. Your works will not be forgotten.

The Golden State

by Brian

It has been far too long since I have updated this blog. Thankfully, though, it’s not because I have nothing to say. I have been having a blast learning from and getting to know so many talented people here in California. Even my professors have written several scores that I’ve loved (some since I was a kid): Bruce Broughton and Garry Schyman! Bruce did the score for The Rescuers Down Under, as well as a few excellent westerns such as Tombstone. Garry did the soundtracks to all of the Bioshock games.

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Bruce Broughton

And of course, I’ve met a slew of talented composers, recording engineers, copyists, contractors, orchestrators…the list goes on. I have nothing but praise to sing about the program at USC. It is expensive, but worth every last penny. We have weekly forums with guests such as Pete Anthony, John Powell, Austin Wintory and Peter Rotter (next on the docekt: MB Gordy, a hero of mine in the percussion realm! :D). We also have nearly weekly recording sessions at impressive studios such as The Bridge, and there’s even a great recording session on-campus for student project scoring!

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Of course there’s the added benefit of living in the same city as all those people you have only read about. I’ve seen Gustavo Dudamel live, literally on a whim, conducting Mahler 5. In fact, I met another hero and inspiration of mine not too long ago at a Los Angeles Philharmonic concert: Bear McCreary. He’s a super chill and humble guy, and was very patient with my fanboi ramblings.

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Woohoo!

I also can’t stress enough the level of quality these studio musicians maintain. They can play almost anything…and SIGHT READ it no less! They also manage to sound amazing even up to the last minute of the day, after incredibly taxing music.

There are some exciting projects coming up for me here shortly, and I can’t wait to share my experiences with them. Already this has been a dream come true!

SMPTV!

by Brian

I am sure it is apparent by now that I am wanting to make music my professional life rather than simply a hobby. To that end, I applied to numerous schools in the hopes of starting this fall. To my delight, my first choice school has admitted me! I am one of only 20 individuals who will take part in the Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television program beginning fall 2014. This is a one-year, highly intense graduate program in which you score films. IN HOLYWOOD.

Why was this my first choice? Because it is the best program in the world for media scoring. It has such distinguished alumni as Bear McCreary and Austin Wintory – two of my still-living heroes in the scoring business – as well as  James Horner, James Newton Howard…

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There’s one of my heroes right there!

The faculty has such names as Scott Smalley and Frank Ticheli. I will be working with the same musicians that score major motion pictures…in other words, some of the best musicians in the country. I will be recording my pieces potentially in the John Williams Scoring Stage, the Eastwood Scoring Stage…I might even have the opportunity to meet some of my childhood heroes. There is really no containing my excitement!

So! My posts are about to get a lot more interesting. In the meantime, I’ll be spending a lot of time brushing up on undergraduate music material and practicing, but I will also be taking the opportunity to write music. So don’t write me off for the summer. 🙂