BMI continued its support of the Sundance Institute Film Music and Sound Design Lab, which worked in collaboration with Skywalker Sound to present an online version of the Lab that this year brought together Fellows Aaron Parks, Ariel Marx, Jeff “Gitty” Gitelman, Cora (Yi-Huan) Chung, DeAndre Allen-Toole and Sultana Isham. Lead by Peter Golub, Director of the Sundance Film Music Program, the Lab provided the opportunity for the gifted film composers to work with fiction and documentary filmmakers and sound designers to explore the power of storytelling through score and sound. Sundance’s Michelle Satter, who runs the filmmaker labs, collaborated.
In addition to BMI’s Doreen Ringer-Ross, this year’s creative advisors included award-wining composers Thomas Newman, James Newton Howard, Blake Neely, Germaine Franco, Heather McIntosh, Kathryn Bostic, Kris Bowers, Michael Abels, Miriam Cutler, Philip Klein, Ludwig Goransson, Ryan Coogler with Jongnic Bontemps serving as Technical Director. Other creative advisors included music editor Adam Smalley, Skywalker Sound effects editors Alyssa Nevarez, Chris Frazier and Dug Winningham, in addition to music supervisor Madonna Wade-Reed, sound editor Steve Boeddeker, and sound designer Pete Horner. Filmmakers Catherine Hardwicke, Jacob Schulsinger, Miguel Arteta, Thomas Allen Harris, and So Yong Kim also joined the elite group of advisors.
Here’s a bit of information on the composers and projects selected for the 2020 Sundance Institute Music and Sound Design Lab:
Aaron Parks attended the Manhattan School of Music at 16 and two years later became the pianist in Terence Blanchard’s band. He won numerous competitions and appeared on Blue Note recordings, including the GRAMMY-winning A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina), before making his own debut with 2008’s Invisible Cinema. The San Jose Mercury News named his Alive in Japan release as their 2013 Top Jazz Album of the year. Parks also appears on soundtracks for Darnell Martin’s acclaimed Their Eyes Were Watching God, as well as Spike Lee’s Inside Man, She Hate Me and When the Levees Broke. He continues to tour as the leader of the Aaron Parks Trio, his quartet Little Big (hailed by PopMatters as “what jazz can be in the new century”), as a solo pianist and a member of Terri Lyne Carrington’s Social Science.
Ariel Marx, an eclectic composer and multi-instrumentalist, has had her film scores premiered at Sundance, TIFF, SXSW, Tribeca, Woodstock and Criterion Channel. In addition to working with major studios such as Amazon, Netflix and HBO, Marx is releasing her new album Luthier this summer under Node Records. Currently, she is scoring an upcoming Netflix series, as well as Lindsay Gossling’s Thirteen Minutes and Paul Shoulberg’s So Cold the River. Recent projects include Amazon’s limited series Ted Bundy: Falling For A Killer; SXSW’s Shiva Baby directed by Emma Seligman; Matthew Balzer’s The Catch; Ross Marks’ Walking With Herb; Edward James Olmos’ The Devil Has A Name; HBO’s film The Tale, directed by Jennifer Fox; the Independent Spirit Award nominated To Dust directed by Shawn Snyde; Galt Niederhoffer’s 10 Things We Should Do Before We Break Up and Sarah Pirozek’s #LIKE.
Jeff ‘Gitty’ Gitelman is a GRAMMY nominated, multi-platinum selling film score composer, producer, songwriter, performer, educator and graduate of Berklee School of Music born in Soviet era Moldavia. He is the lead vocalist and guitarist for his band, The Stepkids, and has toured the world playing guitar for Lauryn Hill, Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, H.E.R and Adele. Gitty’s recent writing/production credits include artists John Legend, J.Cole, H.E.R, Camila Cabello, Usher, Jeremih, Anderson Paak, Earth Wind & Fire, Mary J Blige, Frank Ocean, Mac Miller, and many others. His film scores include the PBS documentary Forgiveness, and the original Netflix movie Take the Ten. As an expression of his commitment to music education, in 2017 he founded Duality School of Music, dedicated to providing youth education and opportunity to developing musicians/composers in his hometown of New Haven, CT.
Cora (Yi-Huan) Chung is a composer and cellist from Taiwan, and has performed with numerous professional orchestras in Asia, such as Kaohsiung Symphony Orchestra (KSO) and the Asian Youth Orchestra (AYO). A graduate of Columbia College in Chicago majoring in Music Composition for the Screen, her music has been performed and recorded at the Sound of Silent Film Festival in Chicago, and 20th Century Fox Studios in 2019. Additionally, the young composer was nominated for the 2020 Peer Raben Music Award at Soundtrack Cologne.
DeAndre Allen-Toole graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts in Music Composition in 2015, and was later accepted into their graduate program. He was chosen as a Game Audio Network Guild Scholar before earning his Master of Fine Arts degree in 2017, and was later awarded a spot in the Television Academy Foundation’s summer internship program. Allen-Toole has also interned for composer Mac Quayle and served as a full-time assistant to Theodore Shapiro. Recently, he’s written music for composers Tyler Strickland, Jongnic Bontemps and Michael Abels, while also working on a handful of independent projects. He is a proud member of the Composers Diversity Collective and currently sits on the organization’s executive committee.
Sultana Isham is an award-winning film composer, violinist, writer and scholar based in New Orleans. An alumna of Syracuse University and Red Bull Music Academy, her film composer credits range from avant-garde to horror, fantasy and archival. She is a member of the contemporary string ensemble, Les Cenelles, and an educator and published scholar on the Black presence in art music. In addition, she was a researcher and composer for the documentary All Skinfolk Ain’t Kinfolk, directed by Emmy-nominated Angela Tucker. Her upcoming film scores include Sacred, directed by Luisa Dantas, and The Neutral Ground, her feature film debut on the removal of confederate monuments, directed by CJ Hunt.