Acclaimed Hollywood Composer to Join CSUN Students for Special Performance

John Debney

John Debney

Acclaimed Hollywood composer John Debney, who wrote the music for such films as the recently released “The Jungle Book,” “Iron Man 2” and “The Passion of the Christ,” will join California State University, Northridge students and graduates in a special performance at the university on Thursday, May 12.

The concert, “Studio Ensemble Close Encounter of the Movie Music Kind: How Do They Do It?,” will include an orchestra made up of professional studio musicians and CSUN alumni and students playing music from movies Debney has scored. It is scheduled to take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Valley Performing Arts Center, located at the southern end of the campus at 18111 Nordhoff St. in Northridge.

The evening also will include a set by CSUN’s Studio Ensemble, a group of student composers, singers and players. The concert also will feature the world premiere of the “Jungle Book Suite” from the recently released movie. There will be an audience question-and-answer period at 6:30 p.m. before the performance.

An Academy Award nominee for his work on “The Passion of the Christ,” Debney is considered one of the most prolific and successful composers in Hollywood.

“It’s a real coup for us to be able to host this event with someone of his stature,” said music professor Elizabeth Sellers, head of CSUN’s commercial and media composition program. “His classical training combines with a strong knowledge of contemporary music to create his unique and compelling scores.”

Sellers noted that Debney enjoys conducting his music, and he will take the podium at the May 12 concert.

Debney is known for his composing versatility, writing music for films ranging from comedies such as “Elf,” “Liar, Liar” and “Bruce Almighty” to action adventures like “Iron Man 2” and the first two “Spy Kids” movies as well as thrillers like “I Know What You Did Last Summer.” His landmark score for “The Passion of the Christ” earned him an Academy Award nomination in 2005.

After his success with “The Passion of the Christ,” Debney premiered his composition “The Passion Oratorio” in Rome, Italy. The performance featured an 83-person choir and a 96-piece orchestra, and included special guest vocalist Lisbeth Scott and woodwind soloist Pedro Eustache, plus solo musicians from the film and classical worlds. The piece has since been performed around the world, including in Spain, the Czech Republic, Los Angeles and New York. It will be performed this summer in Poland in honor of the 1,050th anniversary of Christianity in that country.

Debney’s score for the History Channel’s “Texas Rising” recently garnered an Emmy Award nomination for the main title theme music. His music can be heard in Disney’s recently released “The Jungle Book” and the recently released “The Young Messiah.” Debney has reunited with director Mel Gibson for the film “Hacksaw Ridge,” which will be released later this year.

He is the youngest recipient of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers’ prestigious Henry Mancini Award.

Prices for tickets for the show are $7, $10 or $15. To purchase tickets, call the Valley Performing Arts Center Ticket Office at (818) 677-3000. Tickets may also be purchased at the box office on the day of the performance.

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