On Saturday 22 October 2022, Film Fest Ghent is proud to welcome the versatile American film composer and jazz artist Mark Isham as guest of honour of the 22nd edition of the World Soundtrack Awards. Isham's outstanding musical voice can be heard in the memorable scores for the numerous films on which he collaborated, such as Judas and the Black Messiah by Shaka King, Crash by Paul Haggis and Nell by Michael Apted which received a Golden Globe nomination for ‘Best Original Score’. Mark Isham also scored A River Runs Through It (Robert Redford) which received an Oscar nomination for 'Best Music' and a Grammy nomination for ‘Best Instrumental Composition for a Feature Film’. For Brian De Palma’s The Black Dahlia, Isham was awarded 'Best Score' by the International Film Music Critics Association.
In October 2022, Film Fest Ghent brings the cream of the international film music crop together in Ghent again, this time in Muziekcentrum De Bijloke, for the award ceremony of the 22nd World Soundtrack Awards. The festival is delighted to announce Mark Isham as guest of honour. The Brussels Philharmonic, conducted by maestro Dirk Brossé, will play a selection of works by Mark Isham and by Nainita Desai (winner of the Discovery of the Year Award 2021) during the presentation of the film music awards.
Film Fest Ghent will also dedicate its annual Music for Film album to Mark Isham’s body of work. The composer’s music will be performed by the Brussels Philharmonic and conducted by Film Fest Ghent music director Dirk Brossé. Mark Isham himself will play the trumpet. The album will be released in the run-up to the 22nd World Soundtrack Awards.
On his invitation to be guest of honour, Mark Isham says: “I am very grateful to be honoured by the WSA this year. This is such a highly respected organisation who does so much to support and promote the art of film composition. It will be a great treat to perform and take part in all of the events.”
Mark Isham hails from New York City. Through his parents, who were musicians, he encountered all kinds of musical genres. In his younger years, Isham studied piano and violin, but it was the trumpet that captured his imagination and became his primary instrument. The Ishams moved from New York to San Francisco and by the time he was 15, Mark Isham was playing in jazz clubs. During the same period, he performed with orchestras from Oakland and San Francisco. He eventually formed his own band, Group 87, which released two highly acclaimed instrumental albums that are still considered milestones by many new-age, jazz, and progressive rock artists today. Isham was initially described as an 'electronic' film composer pioneer, but his abilities transcended genres. He made his breakthrough in the early 1990s with Reversal of Fortune, Point Break, and A River Runs Through It. Regardless of genre, medium, or location, Mark Isham's oeuvre demonstrates a boundless ability to amaze the listener with his talent for creating evocative musical worlds.
The prolific composer has scored over 400 film and television projects including the upcoming critically acclaimed film The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. Mark Isham’s projects last year include the Oscar winning film, Judas and the Black Messiah, a masterful drama by Shaka King. He also recently provided the music for the science fiction series The Nevers for HBO, and for the second season of the crime series Godfather of Harlem. Other recent projects include Bill and Ted Face the Music, Togo for Disney+, and the drama series Little Fires Everywhere.
The list of top directors and artists with whom Mark Isham has worked over the course of his career is impressive. They include directors Brian De Palma, Robert Altman, Robert Redford, Werner Herzog, Gillian Armstrong, Karel Reisz, Kevin Reynolds, Jodie Foster, Kathryn Bigelow, Barbet Schroeder, Peter Medak, Mike Figgis, Irwin Winkler, William Friedkin, Paul Haggis, Sidney Lumet, and Belgian animation filmmaker Frederik Du Chau. Isham worked regularly with director Alan Rudolph on his films Trouble in Mind (1985), Made in Heaven (1987), The Moderns (1988), Love at Large (1990), Mortal Thoughts (1991), Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle (1994), Afterglow (1997), and Trixie (2000). He composed the scores for Gavin O’Conner’s The Accountant (2016), Warrior (2011), and Miracle (2004), and for director Gary Fleder, Kiss the Girls (1997), Impostor (2001), and The Express: The Ernie Davis Story (2008).
In addition to the size of his oeuvre, his awards are also numerous. For his music for the film Men of Honor (2000) by George Tillman Jr., Isham received a Grammy nomination in the category 'Film, Television or Other Visual Media'. His score for Robert Redford's A River Runs Through It (1992) earned him a Grammy nomination for 'Best Instrumental Composition for a Feature Film or Television’ and was also nominated for an Academy Award for 'Best Original Score'. With Michael Apted's Nell (1994), Isham received a Golden Globe nomination for 'Best Original Score'. Of several Primetime Emmy Award nominations for Little Fires Everywhere, Once Upon a Time, Nothing Sacred and Chicago Hope, Isham cashed in on the one for EZ Streets (for the episode "A Terrible Beauty") in the category "Outstanding Main Title Theme Music".
He won an ASCAP Award (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) for the films Dolphin Tale (2011), Eight Below (2006) and Blade (1998) and for his work on the TV series Family Law (2000). While he was awarded 'Best Score' by the International Film Music Critics Association for Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia (2006) and received a nomination in the 'Film Score' category, Racing Stripes (2005) was nominated in the 'Best Original Score for a Comedy Film' category and Lions for Lambs (2007) in the 'Film Music Composition of the Year' category.
While developing as a film composer, Mark Isham continued to flourish and gain notoriety for his work in electronica and new age. He won a Grammy for his Virgin Records release, and Grammy nominations for his albums Castalia and Tibet. But his contribution to jazz is, if anything, even more important. He has collaborated and performed with jazz legends such as Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, and Bobby McFerrin. Mark Isham's jazz releases have been praised by the critics. Blue Sun was included in Downbeat's "Top 100 Jazz Albums of the Decade" and The London Times named Miles Remembered: The Silent Way Project "Best Jazz Album".
Of his own work, Isham says: "Improvisation has always been one of my passions. So, the jazz genre - any genre that allows music to be created ‘live’ and in the moment - has been something I’ve kept my hand in as much as possible. The act of creating music, whether ‘live’ or to be written down, is something I will never tire of.”
As is tradition, the music by the winner of last year's Discovery of the Year Award will also be performed by the Brussels Philharmonic conducted by maestro Dirk Brossé. Nainita Desai was honoured in Ghent with her score for the documentary film The Reason I Jump. With nominations in three different categories (Film Composer of the Year, Discovery of the Year and Public Choice Award), she was one of the top favourites at last year’s award ceremony. Desai is known for her music for the Oscar-nominated film For Sama, American Murder, the video game Telling Lies, and the drama series Unprecedented, among others. Recently, her 14 Peaks received an ASCAP Award nomination for 'Documentary Score of the Year'.
Nainita Desai: "I’m incredibly excited to return to Ghent this year. A major highlight for me will be the utter privilege to hear my music brought to life by the Brussels Philharmonic under the wing of the amazing Dirk Brossé. The live experience brings another dimension to the reason why I compose for the screen, and helps the communal audience feel some of the emotions I experience when I compose and respond to a film’s story. I just know we will forge some unforgettable new musical memories this year."
This year, for the first time since 2009, the 22nd World Soundtrack Awards will take place in the Concert Hall of Muziekcentrum De Bijloke, which reopened in 2020 after a thorough renovation. The old, iconic infirmary of De Bijloke retained its historic character thanks to the impressive oak roof truss but has been reinvented as a modern comfortable musical venue.
Tickets for the World Soundtrack Awards 2022 are available at filmfestival.be and worldsoundtrackawards.com as from 21 April.