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Just as their combined efforts earned them the Oscar for scoring Soul, Jon Batiste and Trent Reznor are being recognized for their work on the Pixar animated feature by the ASCAP Composers Choice Awards for film score of the year. The announcement is part of the performing rights organization’s four-day virtual celebration of the Screen Music Awards beginning Monday, May 17, that will include acceptance speeches and special performances via Instagram.
Others being honored include another previous Oscar winner, Gustavo Santaolalla (Brokeback Mountain, Babel), for video game score of the year (The Last of Us Part II) and the television score prize, being bestowed on Raphael Saadiq (Lovecraft Country).
Two new categories were introduced this year: documentary score of the year, being claimed by Oscar-winning composer Steven Price (Gravity) for David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet, and television theme, won by Philip Glass and Paul Leonard Morgan for Tales From the Loop.
In addition, David Vanacore won for most performed themes and underscore for his work on shows including Survivor and Biggest Loser; Rupert Gregson-Williams for the top box office film honor (The Eight Hundred), and Bear McCreary, who took top cable television series for The Walking Dead.
McCreary, who describes his pulsing, string-forward Walking Dead main theme as being inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s go-to suspense maestro, Bernard Herrmann, values the ASCAP honor over similar awards for the kind of work he does.
“As a composer, I actually think it’s the most prestigious award I’ve ever won,” he says, “because it is the most informed voting body for my discipline. Nobody knows how much work it is to keep the quality on a TV show high better than other composers. So, I really admire that ASCAP fought to make this peer-evaluated award as a merit award, separate from the awards about how much money a show made, how much it was broadcast, how many viewers it got. That’s all great, but it is detached from whether or not the music is good.”
ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) introduced Composers Choice in 2014, which stands apart from ASCAP’s remunerative tradition of honoring, say, music that generates the most royalties. The nominations committee comprises roughly 100 individuals made up of composers, members of trade organizations, including the Society of Composers and Lyricists, music supervisors, studio executives and other industry experts. The voting round is then open to all ASCAP members and affiliates, which numbers more than 800,000.