×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Utility player orchestrates ‘Miracle’

Eye on the Oscars: Song & Score

For the past 20 years, accomplished orchestrator Mark McKenzie has been the go-to guy behind-the-scenes for such top film composers as Jerry Goldsmith, Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman. But now the guy who’s orchestrated such hits as “Spider-Man,” “Ice Age: The Meltdown” and “Star Trek: Nemesis,” and a talented composer in his own right, is finally grabbing the limelight thanks to an obscure indie Mexican 3D animated spiritual film titled “The Greatest Miracle,” which recently won him the indie/documentary/short film score award at the Hollywood Music In Media Awards.

“The whole thing is a miracle,” says McKenzie of the faith-based family film directed by Bruce Morris and produced by Mexico City-based Pablo Barosso and Claudia Nemer, “as they had no money, and were also throwing out a previous score when I met them. And they thought I’d come in and save them with a relatively cheap synthesizer score.”

Instead, McKenzie insisted that the film, budgeted at just $1 million, deserved a full symphonic score — a costly proposition. “And amazingly, they called back and told me to go for it,” he recalls.

Following through wasn’t so easy. “For a start, they didn’t even have a copy of the film in English without the music of the prior composer,” he reports. “So I literally was writing music without any dialogue, and then I’d turn it up slightly, so I could hear enough of the dialogue to make sense of it all, but without hearing the music underneath it.”

McKenzie spent six weeks writing the new score and doing his own orchestration, and then experienced another minor miracle when he played the unfinished material to Morris and Barosso on three separate visits to his L.A. studio. “Without fail, they loved everything I played them, and I’ve never had that happen before,” he reports.

To record the score, McKenzie used an 80-piece orchestra, the acclaimed London boys’ choir Libera and a women’s choir. “And then I wrote a 15-minute suite based on the score, which premiered last August in Madrid, as part of World Youth Day, in front of Pope Benedict XVI,” he adds. “Everything about the film’s been amazing.”

Eye on the Oscars: Song & Score
Are acad rules out of synch? | ‘Muppety’ but not too ‘Flighty’ | Pinch hitter | Elizabethan notes culled from rubble | Utility player orchestrates ‘Miracle’ | Powell animated by quartet of pix | Animal, mineral mix in ‘Apes’ score | Gregson-Williams relishes the chase | Byrne scores big ‘Albert Nobbs’ | O’Connor in tune with ‘Albert Nobbs’

More Music

  • Donald Glover'Atlanta' TV show premiere, Arrivals,

    Childish Gambino Surprises Beverly Hills Crowd With Reimagined 'Redbone'

    Donald Glover made an unexpected appearance at Film Independent’s “An Evening With…” series tonight (Jan. 15), held at the Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts in Beverly Hills and presented by the HFPA. Joining “Black Panther” composer and Childish Gambino collaborator Ludwig Göransson, who was the subject of a Q&A conducted by “The Treatment” host Elvis [...]

  • French Montana performingCelebrities at BASE Dubai,

    Gucci Mane, French Montana, Tiesto Tapped to Perform Super Bowl Weekend

    Gucci Mane, French Montana, Tiësto and Kaskade are among the artists headed to Atlanta at the end of the month as part of Super Bowl weekend festivities in the city. The four performers will be playing at The H.wood Group’s annual Bootsy Bellows “Big Game Experience” pop-up, taking place this year at the new live music venue, [...]

  • apple music

    Verizon Bundles Apple Music With Top-Tier Unlimited Wireless Plans for No Extra Charge

    Verizon has expanded its ties to Apple — offering wireless subscribers on its two most expensive unlimited plans access to the Apple Music for no extra charge. Starting Jan. 17, Apple Music will be included in Verizon’s Beyond Unlimited and Above Unlimited plans, the telco announced Tuesday. For Apple, the bundling agreement promises to augment [...]

  • R. KellyR. Kelly in concert at

    'Surviving R. Kelly' Producers on the Lifetime Doc's Ripple Effect

    The ripple effect of “Surviving R. Kelly” continues to widen more than a week after the documentary aired on Lifetime, renewing public interest — and outrage — over the litany of sexual abuse allegations against the R&B artist. Lady Gaga and Phoenix have apologized for working with him. Chance the Rapper and other artists are said to [...]

  • Jeremy Vuernick

    Capitol Music Group Promotes Jeremy Vuernick to Executive VP of A&R

    Jeremy Vuernick has been promoted to Executive Vice President of A&R for Capitol Music Group, it was announced today by CMG COO Michelle Jubelirer and president Ashley Newton. In his elevated position, Vuernick will draw upon his broad experience as an A&R executive to sign and develop artists for the company, as well as oversee recording projects for new and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content