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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Fall 2015 35 Fall 2015 35 Fall 2015 35 L.A. Newsbriefs American Idol is entering its 14th and fnal season, bringing with it a close to the recent hey-day of live bands on television. The show's music director and producer Rickey Minor is a connector within the industry who fosters talent and mentors musi- cians. The relationships between the Berklee alumni who've worked for Minor and the intricate ways their careers are tied to together, is a microcosm of the larger Berklee alumni community. Below, a few alumni share their experiences working with Minor, the musi- cian regarded as the "King of Los Angeles" for their generation. Kenya Hathaway '94, an artist, background vocalist and American Idol vocal coach, had heard about Minor's auditions. "He was the guy that called everyone back," she says. Hathaway became one of Minor's TV singers performing on major award and music shows. "We were all such perfectionists. We wanted to sound exactly like the record," she recalls. In 2014, at Minor's prompting, Hathaway became a vocal coach on American Idol. "He's been such a force in my life," Hathaway says. "If he says I can do it, I can do it." During the frst season, she and her musical partner Matt Rohde '91 coached contestant Caleb Johnson to victory. "It's a small musical world," Hathaway says regarding fellow alum- ni. "We used to tease [Minor] about having so many Berklee people." Rohde majored in jazz compo- sition and has served as an associ- ate music director for American Idol and as an arranger for The Voice. Rohde has also worked big pop tours for such artists as Hanson, Alanis Morissette, and Christina Aguilera. During his interview for American Idol, Rohde played a sort of musical Russian roulette before the show's producers by sight reading the sheet music of random artists on the fy. "The show is so diverse, you have to be fuent in every kind of style," he says. Rohde, who also owns Coast Music Conservatory with his wife Liz Rohde '92, has noted that 90 percent of a musician's work comes from referrals. "You always have to pres- ent yourself in the best light," he advises. Lenny Wee '08 is a freelance mixer and arranger, and Minor's right-hand man. Wee heard about an interview to be Minor's offce manager from Berklee professor Bill Elliott. The job quickly turned into an opportunity. "Engineers wouldn't be able to make it last minute," he says, "so I would fll in. It was like, 'just do it because we need it done.'" Whatever the situation, Wee is there to make it work for Minor. "The most important thing is to be ready for anything," he says. "Always keep your chops up. If you're not ready, you might get the gig, but you'll never keep the gig." David Delhomme '89 is key- boardist and guitarist who majored in music synthesis. At the start of his career, Delhomme toured with such artists as Marcus Miller and Eric Clapton. He later backed pop acts including the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, and Whitney Houston. More recently, he's worked with Rickey Minor in the Tonight Show band and on American Idol. He advises alumni to keep writing songs. "A great song will outlive you, me, and everyone else," Delhomme says. "A great song will be around forever." Saxophonist Miguel Gandelman '04 and trumpeter Ray Monteiro '03 connected during their freshman year at Berklee and have continued as members of a horn group that has worked with many pop stars and was part of the Tonight Show band when Minor was the band leader. For American Idol, Gandeman is a saxo- phonist, producer, programmer, and arranger. He suggests that playing, performing, and gaining the atten- tion of a music director like Minor is no different than building any other relationship. "We knew we were part Kenya Hathaway '94 of his team when Minor said, 'I want you guys to be my every-single-day horns.' That solidifed it." Minor hired Monteiro for the horn section of the Tonight Show band because of his "commit- ment to excellence." Together with Gandelman, Monteiro has toured with Sheila E, Babyface, Eric Benoit, and Christina Aguilera. When asked about advice for self-employed musi- cians, Gandelman says, "I would say to believe in yourself. Believe that it's possible," Monteiro offers. "There are no cubicles in this lifestyle. You have to be able to adapt." Scoring Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation was the opportunity of a life- time for Joe Kraemer '93. The music of any Mission: Impossible flm will inevitably be tied to the iconic theme penned by Lalo Schifrin for the origi- nal TV show. The challenge for any composer is how to incorporate that very recognizable theme while also creating a new and memorable movie score. Kraemer is the fourth composer to meet this challenge, following in the footsteps of Danny Elfman, Hans Zimmer, and Michael Giacchino. In the opinion of many critics and fans, Kraemer's score to Rogue Nation is the best yet. Kraemer's score was recorded with an 86-piece orchestra at Abbey Road Studios, Studio One in London. Using a full orchestral palette for this score was a dream come true for Kraemer. "I have spent most of my profes- sional life working toward the goal of scoring a sweeping action flm with a symphony orchestra," he says. "I've devoted years of study to the works of the great concert composers like Stravinsky, Copland, Mahler, and Holst, as well as such flm composers as John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith and David Shire." After graduating from Berklee in 1993, Kraemer moved to Hollywood with the dream of a career like that of his idol, John Williams. His frst major break came in 2000 with The Way of the Gun, directed by his longtime friend Christopher McQuarrie. Despite critical acclaim for his score, more than a decade passed before Kraemer landed his next major flm, the 2012 thriller Jack Reacher, again directed by McQuarrie. When McQuarrie was chosen to direct the latest Mission: Impossible flm, Kraemer was handed the highly sought-after scoring role. He freely acknowledges that McQuarrie's loyalty to him was a major factor in his landing the three biggest assignments of his career. "With technology leveling the play- ing feld, and with so many talented people available too, it's our relation- ships and loyalties that are key in this business," Kraemer says. Kraemer's 22-year journey in Los Angeles has reinforced his belief in Malcolm Gladwell's concept that it takes 10,000 hours to reach the level of mastery in your feld. At times, Kraemer may have felt that his mis- sion was nearly impossible, however, his passion for flm music was never in doubt. "I spent several years making mockups of John Williams's scores in my spare time trying to get the sam- ples to sound like live instruments," he says. "I've also scored nearly 40 TV movies for the Hallmark Channel alone. You have to be dedicated for the long haul." Kraemer put in his 10,000 hours and more. But just as important, he had the patience to still be standing at the crossroads where preparation could meet opportunity. Joe Kraemer '93 Mission: Possible By Peter Gordon '78 By Justine Taormino '06 Justine Taormino is the assistant director for alumni affairs, Los Angeles Peter Gordon is the director of the Berklee Center in Los Angeles

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