The sound of music: KUSC tunes up for a week of Oscar-nominated film scores

The sound of music: KUSC tunes up for a week of Oscar-nominated film scores

The classical station carries its annual salute to movie music and covers inside stories about the nominated composers

February 05, 2016 Allison Engel

KUSC at the Movies, the classical station’s annual tribute to movie music, begins Feb. 8, which happens to be composer John Williams’ birthday. Since he is the most-nominated movie score composer in the history of the Academy Awards, this year’s KUSC at the Movies feature, which runs from through Feb. 12, will have a special emphasis on Williams.

One of the composer’s 50 nominated scores will be played at the top of each weekday hour from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. (Other non-Williams nominated scores also will be heard during the week.) The scores can be heard on KUSC or streamed online.

Scheduled interviews

Continuing a long KUSC tradition, Jim Svejda, host of The Evening Program, will conduct in-depth interviews with composers nominated for this year’s Academy Award for best score.

Svejda, who has been doing these interviews annually for 15 years or so, typically talks to the composer for an hour, while playing excerpts from the nominated scores. Four interviews will take place next week, all beginning at 9 p.m. PST:

Feb. 8: Thomas Newman (Bridge of Spies)
Feb. 9: Jóhann Jóhannsson (Sicario?)
Feb. 10: Carter Burwell (Carol?)
Feb. 11: Williams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

Svejda is still hoping to interview the fifth nominee, Ennio Morricone, who scored The Hateful Eight, but it has not been scheduled.

Back stories

This year’s best score race is full of interesting stories (Williams’ 50th nomination! Morricone is back! Jóhannsson is nominated for the second year in a row! Newman has been nominated 13 times, but never won!), and Brian Lauritzen, host of the KUSC program Arts Alive will break them down at 8 a.m. on Feb. 13, with help from film music expert Jon Burlingame, professor of film and television scoring at the USC Thornton School of Music and film music reporter for Variety.

Also on that Arts Alive broadcast will be a discussion between Kenneth Turan, longtime film critic for the Los Angeles Times, and Gail Eichenthal, KUSC’s executive producer of arts programming. The two regularly have compelling discussions on film on the Arts Alive program, and in this segment they will examine the major Oscar categories (best picture, director, actor and actress), talk about Turan’s personal favorites and who he thinks will win.

Arts Alive can be heard live on Saturday mornings or as a podcast archived on the KUSC site.