Veteran film composer Alan Silvestri received the Icon Award before a cheering crowd of composers and songwriters at the annual Film, TV and Visual-Media Awards of Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) Wednesday night at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
Silvestri, the Oscar-nominated composer of “Forrest Gump,” Grammy winner for “Cast Away” and an Emmy winner for “Cosmos,” ascended the stage to the strains of “Back to the Future,” his most famous movie theme. His nearly 100 other films include “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” “Night at the Museum,” “The Croods” ” and “Marvel’s The Avengers.”
“I did my first film in 1972, so it’s been 45 years,” Silvestri told Variety prior to the awards ceremony. “I never thought I would do this,” he said, referring to a career scoring movies. “I’m really looking at tonight as a chance to publicly thank a small group of people who have been so instrumental in my being here.”
Silvestri, 67, says he has no plans to retire. “I’m still interested in music. I’m still smitten by the development of technology in our business, and what it has provided in terms of possibilities to find new sounds and new ways to bring organized musical content to our work. I’m still enthusiastic. All the elements of film composing are still fascinating and motivating for me.”
He has already begun writing the music for the next “Avengers” movie, “Infinity War,” which he is slated to record in January 2018. He said he has already seen footage of the next installment and “it’s everything we could have hoped for.”
BMI president and CEO Mike O’Neill, in presenting the award, cited similarities between Silvestri’s career as a film composer and his other career as a winemaker. Both, he said, “are a wonderful blend of art and science.” Silvestri Vineyards, based in California’s Carmel Highlands, now makes some of the state’s most acclaimed wines.
Filmmaking colleagues paid tribute to the composer in video interviews. “Night at the Museum” director Shawn Levy said “when an Alan Silvestri melody is playing, whether big or small, it’s going to get you, either in a rousing, uplifting way or in a heartbreaking way. Alan has that ability to craft an anthemic, enduring theme.” Robert Zemeckis, who has made 16 films with Silvestri from “Romancing the Stone” to the recent “Allied,” said his longtime friend had written “so many magnificent scores, all diverse and different and memorable and beautiful.”
Dozens of other awards were handed out during the black-tie ceremony. Among those receiving multiple awards were composers Brian Tyler (“Fate of the Furious”), Mark Mancina (“Moana”), Justin Hurwitz (“La La Land”), Danny Elfman (“Fifty Shades Darker”), Christopher Lennertz (“Sausage Party”), Brian Kirk (“NCIS”) and Keith Power (“MacGyver”). Veteran TV composer Mike Post received his 51st BMI award for the music of “Law & Order: SVU.”
Earlier in the ceremony, O’Neill said that features scored by BMI composers earned $2.6 billion last year and that it had recently struck new deals for increased composer compensation from streaming services Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.