Berklee today

OCT 2015

Berklee today is the official alumni publication of Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. It is a forum for contemporary music and musicians.

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Growing up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, flm composer Andrew Simon McAllister, was a child during "the troubles," the sectarian fghting that fared there for a time. "I remember being very young and going to the shopping area in the city center with my mother," McAllister says with a distinctive brogue. "We had to go through turn- stiles past soldiers holding machine guns. I remember holding very tight- ly to my mum's hand as we went." Given that backdrop, McAllister was an ideal choice to score the flm 2014 flm Shooting for Socrates, half of which was set in Northern Ireland. "It's a sports flm about the Northern Ireland football team going to the Mexican World Cup to play Brazil in 1986 during the height of the troubles," he says. "While the team was playing, there was no fghting in the streets, everyone was inside watching the game on TV. It brought the country together." In addition to his ability to write cues for violin, guitar, and fute with an Irish lilt as he did for Socrates, McAllister creates music in a range of styles for dramatic features, docu- mentaries, and video games. His scores may feature full orchestra (Planet of the Apemen miniseries), solo piano and chamber ensemble (BBC World War I drama 37 Days), pop songs (MTV's My Super Sweet 16), and electronically manipulated sounds. McAllister draws on his life experi- ences as well his musical and techni- cal fnesse to create the right atmo- sphere in the flms he scores. For years, McAllister has worked out of his home studio in Belfast where he lives with his wife and their two young children. He shuttles regu- larly to London for meetings and larger recording sessions at Air Edel, the production company that now repre- sents him. Raised in a musical family, McAllister grew up playing trumpet, cornet, and French horn before picking up the guitar at 11 years old. After grad- uating from high school, he earned a bachelor's degree in electro-acoustic composition at Queens University in Belfast. "It was a good education, although I had always wanted to go to Berklee," he says. "But there was no way my family could consider that when Queens University was free." For a time, he operated a small recording studio and was writing— as he terms it—"daft punk music" with his cousin, Nathan Connolly. After Connolly joined the success- ful Irish alternative rock band Snow Patrol, McAllister decided to go to Berklee. "I already had a degree from Queens University, but I got another from Berklee because there wasn't a master's program back then. Looking back, it was a good choice." McAllister received a performance scholarship as a guitar principal but soon changed his focus. "When I got to Berklee, I saw so many incredible play- ers," he recalls. He began practicing with such intensity that he developed hand problems. "At the same time I was getting high marks in the compo- sition classes," he relates, "and after taking the Introduction to Film Scoring class, I knew I really wanted to be a flm scoring major." Upon graduating summa cum laude from Berklee in 2008, McAllister and his wife lived briefy in Los Angeles, where he gained experi- ence writing for MTV, PBS documen- taries, and other projects. "The MTV work came through a publishing company that was looking for songs for shows like My Super Sweet 16," he says. "I still get royalties for some of the work I did there." After returning to Northern Ireland, McAllister endured serious health problems that lasted for a year. Once he recovered, he began visiting production companies seeking work. "Many were using library music rather than hiring a composer," he says. "But I kept trying. When you're starting out you'll hear no a lot, so you have to have a thick skin." After persistent effort, McAllister began writing for local pro- grams and short flms. Scoring three- Creating the Right Atmosphere Andrew Simon McAllister '08 By Mark Small Andrew Simon McAllister alumni profle 1986 Guitarist Kevin Kastning of Groton, MA, released the album Otherworld on Greydisc Records. Visit 1987 Joe Doyle of Nashville, TN, had his song "Back to Bethlehem" recorded by Kenny Rogers for Rogers's new album Once Again It's Christmas. Visit 1988 Saxophonist Mario Perrett of Stoneham, MA, is featured on blues guitarist Ronnie Earl's latest album Father's Day on Stony Plain Records. It debuted at number three on Billboard magazine's blues chart. Perrett is also an artist in residence at Wally's Café jazz club in Boston. Tony Schultz of North Quincy, MA, was elected as the vice president of the Eastern Region of U.S. and Canada for the Audio Engineering Society. He has owned and operated Big T Productions for 26 years. Visit Vocalist Luciana Souza of Los Angeles, CA, released the album Speaking in Tongues, featuring Lionel Loueke '00, Massimo Biolcati '99, and Kendrick Scott '03. Visit Loïc Souriant '82 episodes of the BBC miniseries Planet Earth: Planet of the Apemen, required nearly three hours of orchestral music. That was his frst big project for the BBC, others would follow. An admitted workaholic, McAllister is hands-on with the writ- ing, engineering, and playing of some of the instruments for his scores. Until recently, he also handled the admin- istration work. "I was wrangling with producers and directors about con- tracts and then trying to sit down and be musical," he says. "That's when I felt it was time to get an agent." In November 2014, after his score for the BBC drama 37 Days was nominated for a Royal Television Society award, he signed with Air Edel. He recently scored the indepen- dent flm My Lonely Me, which has been nominated for a World Music and Independent Film Festival Award for best soundtrack. He's also com- posing for the video game Mulbury Project by the developers of the popu- lar Hitman and Hitman Resolutions games. His sonic palette has broad- ened since he began scoring. "It's changed quite a lot since I left Berklee," he says. "I was a big John Williams fan then, trying to write melodic orches- tral cues. You can do many different things now." For 37 Days, McAllister mixed big orchestral sounds with elec- tronic e-pulse cues, and more. Sometimes the flm isn't calling for a tuneful or feel-good score. McAllister used only guitar tracks and sounds he produced by rubbing and tapping glass for the score for The Healer. For the forthcoming documen- tary Hostage to the Devil, about the life of Irish Catholic priest, author, and exorcist Malachi Martin, he deliber- ately created an unsettling score. "My cousin and I recorded hours of really weird and annoying noises and then I added orchestra and an opera singer. I wanted people to walk out of the cinema feeling glad they were out of there." Whatever kind of soundtrack a flm needs, McAllister will explore until he fnds it. Fall 2015 31 Mark Small

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