Composer Christopher Lennertz was declared a BMI Icon at Broadcast Music Inc.’s 39th annual Film, TV and Visual Media Awards Wednesday night (May 10) in Beverly Hills.
Lennertz, a two-time Emmy nominee (“The Boys,” “Supernatural”), veteran film composer (“Alvin and the Chipmunks,” “Horrible Bosses,” “Bad Moms”) and game-music creator (“Medal of Honor,” “Mass Effect,” “The Simpsons”), was honored for his 30-year career in media music-making.
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BMI president and CEO Mike O’Neill presented the award, noting that Lennertz was “legendary for his diverse and distinct impact across the worlds of film, television and gaming” and telling the 51-year-old composer, “your captivating scores have taken us on a thrilling ride.”
Added BMI’s VP creative, film, TV and visual media Tracy McKnight: “His compelling body of work, from blockbuster films to hit TV shows and gaming, highlights Christopher’s passion for all styles of music and has made him one of the industry’s most sought-after composers. He is also dedicated to giving back through philanthropic work and advancing the next generation of composers.”
Lennertz’s versatility was illustrated via video clips that featured more of his TV work (“Marvel’s Agent Carter,” “Lost in Space,” “Revolution”) and his past films (“Sausage Party,” “Hop,” “Smurfs: The Lost Village,” “Pitch Perfect 3”). Directors including Eric Kripke (“The Boys”) and Tim Story (“Ride Along”) attended in support of the composer.
Lennertz has also written the orchestral arrangements for Ozomatli’s Grammy-winning “Street Signs” album and for Guns N’ Roses recent remake of its classic “November Rain.” He written songs for Kelly Clarkson, Janelle Monae and Lizzo, and recently scored the Disneyland fireworks show “Wondrous Journeys.”
Lennertz told Variety that the honor was “incredibly humbling and super-meaningful.” A BMI composer since 1994, he recalled being invited to his first film-music awards dinner, watched John Williams being honored, and “never imagined that it would be me walking up on that stage” decades later.
He credited BMI’s former executive Doreen Ringer Ross with arranging for him to become an assistant to composers Basil Poledouris (“Lonesome Dove”) and later Michael Kamen (“Lethal Weapon”), and his later collaborations with Oscar winners Dave Grusin (on the climate-change documentary “Harmony”) and Alan Menken (on “Galavant” and “Sausage Party”), all key turning points in his career.
“I changed my major [to film scoring] the day after I met Henry Mancini,” Lennertz said. “He’d do a jazz record and then a film score. Working for Kamen, it was the same thing: He’d finish a score cue and then do a string chart for Eric Clapton. I’ve always wanted to do records and theater and musicals and films. That was the career I’ve always wanted; there are so many different styles and lots of ways to use composition skills in other venues.”
Asked about his penchant for giving back — raising money for hurricane-devastated Haiti, serving on the boards of music-education organizations — he said it was instilled in him by his parents, both teachers, who were “helping people find their own passion and follow their own dreams. Teaching, mentoring, championing education, was such a big part (of their lives),” he said.
Lennertz told the black-tie crowd that he views his purpose is “helping others access joy. What we do when we tell stories is, we help people believe. Our music helps people believe in their own story, their own worth, their own identity, and their own existence. I am honored to be in this room entirely filled with people who loved and believed in me.”
Numerous other composers were honored during the event for music featured in the past year’s top-grossing films, top-rated network TV series and highest-rated cable and streamed-media programs. Atli Örvarsson received six awards, most of the evening, for his music on “Chicago P.D.,” “Chicago Med,” “Chicago Fire,” “FBI,” “FBI: International” and “FBI: Most Wanted.”
Other composers earning multiple awards included Pierre Charles (“Inventing Anna”), Mychael Danna (“Where the Crawdads Sing”), Ludwig Göransson (“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”), Harry Gregson-Williams (“The Gilded Age”), Kevin Kiner (“Dark Winds”), Sean Kiner (“Titans”), Clint Mansell (“Peacemaker”), Tony Morales (“Reacher”), Mike Post (“Law & Order”), Brian Tyler (“1883”) and Breton Vivian (“Yellowstone”).
A complete list of winners is at BMI.com/filmtv2023.
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