Conversations with Composers James Newton Howard

James Newton Howard is one of the film industry’s most versatile and honored composers, with a career spanning over thirty years and encompassing more than 130 film and television projects.

His myriad film credits include the Oscar-nominated scores for Defiance, Michael Clayton, The Village, The Fugitive, The Prince of Tides, and My Best Friend’s Wedding, as well as Oscar-nominated songs for Junior and One Fine Day.  Howard also received Golden Globe nominations for his scores for Peter Jackson’s blockbuster remake of King Kong and Defiance, as well as the aforementioned songs.

In addition, Howard won the 2009 Grammy Award for the score of The Dark Knight, co-composed with Hans Zimmer, and received Grammy Award nominations for music from Blood Diamond and his song from One Fine Day.  He also won an Emmy for the theme to the Andre Braugher series Gideon’s Crossing, and received three additional Emmy nominations for the HBO film, All The Way, and for the themes to the long-running series, ER, and the Ving Rhames series, Men.  In 2008, World Soundtrack Award named him Film Composer of the Year for his work on the films Charlie Wilson’s War, Michael Clayton and I Am Legend.

His success reflects the experiences of a rich musical past.  Inspired by his grandmother, a classical violinist, he began his studies on the piano at age four.  After studying at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, and at the USC School of Music as a piano performance major, he completed his formal education with orchestration study under legendary arranger Marty Paich.

Though his training was classical, he maintained an interest in rock and pop music, and it was his early work in the pop arena that allowed him to hone his talents as a musician, arranger, songwriter and producer.  He racked up a string of collaborations in the studio and on the road with some of pop’s biggest names, including Elton John; Crosby, Stills & Nash; Barbra Streisand; Earth, Wind and Fire; Bob Seger; Rod Stewart; Toto; Glenn Frey; Diana Ross; Carly Simon; Olivia Newton-John; Randy Newman; Rickie Lee Jones; and Chaka Khan.

In 1985, he was offered his first film, Head Office, and he quickly knew he had found his calling.  He has since created the scores for a broad range of films, recently including Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, all four installments of The Hunger Games franchise, Concussion, Nightcrawler and Maleficent.  His long list of credits also include Snow White and the Huntsman, The Bourne Legacy, Salt, Water For Elephants, Batman Begins, Collateral, Snow Falling on Cedars, Outbreak, The Village, Hidalgo, Peter Pan, Wyatt Earp, Lady in the Water, The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Freedomland, Treasure Planet, Signs, Falling Down, Primal Fear, Glengarry Glen Ross, Waterworld, The Devil’s Advocate, Dave, and Pretty Woman among many others.

In addition to his contributions to film and television music, Howard has composed two concert pieces for the Pacific Symphony: I Would Plant a Tree, which debuted in 2009; and, more recently, his Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, which premiered in 2015, featuring renowned violinist James Ehnes.

Howard has been honored with ASCAP’s prestigious Henry Mancini Award for Lifetime Achievement, and the 2016 BMI ICON Award.  His upcoming projects include Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit, and Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Howard is also currently preparing for his first live concert tour. The 3 Decades of Music for Hollywood concert production will be a celebration of career highlights with music, spoken word and video.  The tour will visit 20 European cities in November and December 2017, with the premiere being held at the Royal Albert Hall on November 3rd 2017.