Emmy winner will direct new programs in contemporary media and film music
Emmy Award-winning composer and conductor Mark Watters, whose vast resume includes music for motion pictures, television, DVD, video games, and special events such as the Olympics, has been named the inaugural director of the Beal Institute for Film Music and Contemporary Media at the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music.
The Beal Institute, named for Emmy-winning composer Jeff Beal and vocalist Joan Beal, will provide students with instruction and experiences preparing them for the increasing and evolving opportunities to write, produce, and perform music for film and visual media.
“When the Eastman School of Music opened in 1921, performing music for silent films was an important component of study,” said Jamal Rossi, the Joan and Martin Messinger Dean of the Eastman School of Music. “Mark’s remarkable career as a composer, arranger, and conductor of music for different media and on emerging platforms builds on that legacy. Our students will benefit greatly from his experience and leadership to develop the knowledge and skills to succeed in this changing field. We are thrilled to welcome Mark to the Eastman faculty.”
In addition to serving as director of the Beal Institute, Watters will oversee the newly established Master of Music degree in Contemporary Media/Film Composition and teach graduate courses.
The Beals are graduates of the Eastman School of Music. Both Jeff and Joan have worked with Watters in Los Angeles: Joan has performed his scores, and Jeff has conducted in concerts with Watters.
“When we began envisioning the perfect candidate to lead this new degree program and institute, we made a wish list of qualifications which we felt would best serve Eastman students and the community,” said Jeff Beal. “Considering all of Mark’s vast experience in composing, conducting, teaching, arranging and his involvement in a wide variety of musical platforms, it’s abundantly clear that he is the ideal leader for this program. Joan and I have seen firsthand Mark’s passion as a champion for film music in the concert hall, his work ethic as a collaborative colleague, and his gifts as a composer, mentor, and teacher. We’re excited for the future of the Institute and are looking forward to working with Mark in his new position.”
Watters holds the distinction of serving as music director for two Olympics—the 1996 Centennial Games in Atlanta and the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City—which garnered him two of his six Emmys. He also received Emmys for Outstanding Music Direction for Movies Rock; Outstanding Music for True Life Adventure Alaska: Dances of the Caribou; and two Outstanding Music Direction and Composition Daytime Awards for Aladdin and Tiny Toon Adventures.
“I am honored and thrilled to join the esteemed faculty at Eastman. With the enthusiastic support of the administration and my new colleagues, I intend to build a world class program that will prepare its graduates for the highly competitive and constantly changing world of media music,” said Watters. “Thanks to the generosity of my friends, Jeff and Joan Beal, the Beal Institute will be the hub for coordinating studies and collaborations with the talented students of Eastman, the University of Rochester, and hopefully other organizations throughout Rochester.”
As a film composer, Watters wrote the scores for MGM’s The Pebble and the Penguin and All Dogs Go to Heaven 2, and for Disney’s Doug’s First Movie and Get a Horse, a new animated short featuring characters from 1920s Mickey Mouse cartoons that accompanied the theatrical release of Frozen. In addition, his music can be heard on almost two dozen direct-to-video/DVD releases, including Aladdin and the King of Thieves and several Winnie-the-Pooh features for Disney, My Little Pony and Candyland movies for Hasbro, and a Tom and Jerry feature for Warner Brothers.
Television viewers have heard his music across several networks and channels including CBS, Hallmark, and Disney on such series as Paradise and The Little Mermaid, made-for-TV movies including The Longshot, and documentaries such as Medal of Honor and the nature series True Life Adventures. Watters has also created original scores for theater productions of The Raft of the Medusa, Snitch, and Hamlet. Watters’s video games music oeuvre includes Coraline, two Ben 10 installments, Toy Story 3, Cars Mania, Disney Princesses 1 and 2, and Disney Fairies: Tinkerbell.
As a guest conductor, Watters has led the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the London Symphony, the Detroit Symphony, the New York Pops, and many other orchestras. In 2002, John Williams asked him to co-conduct the Academy Awards. In 2015, Watters led the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra in a concert saluting 90 years of Disney animation, for which he also wrote new scores for two late-1920’s “Oswald the Lucky Rabbit” shorts. He conducted three “Star Wars in Concert” tours, including one in Japan with the Tokyo Philharmonic.
In addition, Watters has worked as a conductor for individual artists Trisha Yearwood, Carrie Underwood, Beyoncé, Mary Jo Blige, John Legend, Sting, Barry Manilow, Jessye Norman, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and others.
Watters has taught film scoring at UCLA and for Columbia College of Chicago. He served several terms on the Television Academy’s Board of Governors and as Co-Chair of the Academy’s Creative Arts Emmy Awards Committee. Recent projects include serving as music director for the highly acclaimed animated series “Have A Laugh,” a three-year project to restore and re-record 60 classic Disney shorts from the ’30s and ’40s.
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