December 18, 2009

Rising to the Challenge

Michael J McEvoy

Michael J McEvoy

Versatile composer Michael J McEvoy scores and performs in Richard Linklater's Me and Orson Welles

London-based composer Michael J McEvoy will be the envy of millions of teenage girls when they discover he worked side-by-side with Hollywood heart-throb, Zac Efron in acclaimed director Richard Linklater's period drama Me and Orson Welles.

Linklater, whose previous films included the award winning Before Sunset and School of Rock, took a meticulous approach to recreating the sights and sounds of 1930s New York, which presented unusual challenges for McEvoy.

McEvoy was asked by the film's music supervisor to produce a demo of the original score by Marc Blitzstein commissioned by Orson Welles. His work on the demo landed him the job, and the opportunity to compose original music for the film. To his surprise, he also ended up teaching Zac Efron how to play the ukelele and landed an on-screen role as Orson's Welles' Musical Director, Epstein.

The score is a combination of authentic recordings from the era, but some big band cues had to be new compositions. "Rick loved the Benny Goodman recording of 'Sing, Sing, Sing', but wanted to have something else in the same mood and vibe. I wrote a cue, which we recorded with the UK-based James Langton Big Band. They all play genuine instruments from the period, which gives it a really authentic sound," McEvoy said of his methods for creating an authentic sound for his score.

McEvoy is no stranger to live performance having toured extensively with Steve Winwood, and he's equally renowned in the UK as a studio session musician, working with a long list of artists that include Soul II Soul, the Bee Gees, Mark Morrison and Scritti Politti.

Over the last ten years, McEvoy has focused on composing for screen, racking up an impressive string of prime-time documentaries such as Einstein's Big Idea, Battle of Hood & Bismarck and more recently a number of film projects in collaboration with star Brit DJ, Paul Oakenfold, including last year's Christmas hit Nothing Like the Holidays and the acclaimed Japanese anime feature Vexille. Michael's music can also be heard on the new title theme for Sundance Channel's iconic music show Live from Abbey Road.

Currently McEvoy is putting the finishing touches to a beautifully crafted album with new singer, Mary Leay, and his own album of jazz-infused compositions, Terra Cognita will be released in April on the up and coming CARE label in Germany.

Clearly McEvoy is on a roll and acknowledges that it's been a fantastic year. "It was a great privilege to work so closely with Richard Linklater. Over the years I've enjoyed his movies so much and to be a part of this project was like a dream come true for me."