John Williams

And the Oscar For Best Original Score Goes To…

Matt Rogers, Reel Music host

Matt Rogers, Reel Music host

Each year, as movie lovers prepare their red carpet parties and office Oscar pools begin their wagers, Matt Rogers hosts an Academy Award edition of Reel Music. During the show, he previews the scores of this year’s nominees and revisits the music of past winners. But it’s his commentary on the scores and his prediction for Best Score winner that have made this show a favorite of listeners.

The big question: Who does Matt think will win this year? We talked with Matt Rogers for his take on this year’s nominees, his thoughts on what makes a perfect score, and for a hint – just one little hint! — for his pick for best score this year.

Of Note: Each year you’ve hosted Reel Music, you’ve guessed the winner of Best Original Score. What’s your track record?
Matt Rogers: Well, I was doing fine until last year. There really wasn’t much of a soundtrack to Gravity, but I guess what there was of it worked so well in the film that it won. I had picked Philomena by Alexandre Desplat, who is nominated again this year for two scores.

Of Note: What are your thoughts on the nominated scores this year? 
Matt Rogers: Alexandre Desplat has two great scores this year [for The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Imitation Game], but people are also talking about Jóhann Jóhannsson’s score [for The Theory of Everything], which, if it won, would give Desplat his eighth loss in nine years. Ouch.

Of Note: If you’re stranded on a desert island with one movie soundtrack, what is it? Why?
Matt Rogers: Star Wars. Hands down. Every note of it is nostalgic for me since that saga was a huge part of my childhood. I could listen to it over and over.

Of Note: Who are some of your favorite score composers?
Matt Rogers: Bernard Herrmann is really responsible for my love of movie music. When I was a kid, I saw the 1959 version of Journey to the Center of the Earth, and Herrmann’s score captivated me. It remains one of my favorite movie soundtracks of all time. John Williams is of course a favorite as well. He’s very versatile. He can produce something as subtle as Lincoln or something as bombastic as Superman, and it all works.

Of Note: What makes for an effective film score?
Matt Rogers: I think it depends on the movie. I mentioned Gravity. In that film, you don’t want the music to draw your attention away from the tension on screen. You almost want to be unaware of the score. With Indiana Jones or Star Wars, the more in your face it is, the better it is.

Of Note: Who is your favorite Oscar host?
Matt Rogers: Billy Crystal was so good in the 90s. There’s never been anyone as good since. Who could forget him wearing the Hannibal Lector mask and being rolled out on stage?

Of Note: Are you going to give us a hint for your pick for Best Original Score?
Matt Rogers: Hah! Not a chance. You have to tune in and hear for yourself. I will tell you that we have Neil Lerner from the Davidson College Music Department back with us this year. He always offers great insights on the nominated scores and composers. Be sure to listen in!

Listen to Reel Music’s “WDAV at the Oscars” on Friday, February 20, 2015 at 9:00 p.m.

Are you in the Charlotte area? Tune into 89.9fm Classical Public Radio.
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Blame it on the Rain–Err…Cold

by James Hogan

Some of the biggest classical music news last week came–no surprise here–as a result of the Inauguration, which featured a John Williams arrangement of “Simple Gifts” played by renowned musicians Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Gabriela Montero, and Anthony McGill. But the buzz was overwhelmed later in the week when the committee in charge of the program revealed that the music spectators and television viewers heard was prerecorded. The cold temperatures, the announcement said, made it too difficult to consider using the live performance.