Sky Island (2010)

Directed by John Grabowska. Narrated by Meryl Streep and N. Scott Momaday. In my fourth collaboration with John, we go to Bandelier National Monument, a huge, and hugely diverse, area in northern New Mexico. Ranging from the Rio Grande to the Cerro Grande, with the Jemez mountains and parts of the Pajarito Plateau, we see stark, rugged, and breathtaking country, much of it transforming rapidly due to climate change. The film is wonderfully shot and narrated -- a jewel. The music, for small orchestra, ranges from small and elegiac to grand and celebratory.

Al Mas Alla (2007)

Directed by Lourdes Portillo. Lourdes tends to make films that are hard to categorize, and this one is no exception. In voice-over narration during the title sequence, she announces that recent experiences have led her to use an actor to portray "a documentary filmmaker" and other actors to portray "the crew", so that she can pursue a line of inquiry that might be too absorbing, or even too dangerous, for her to pursue as herself. With that introduction, we are gradually led into an investigation of narcotrafficking in an unnamed town in northern Mexico. As the "filmmaker" and "crew" pursue their investigation, their personal discomfort and self-absorbtion compete with what appear to be real dangers and ironies as they find that nothing is stable in a world in which everything is for sale. Thematically, the music springs from a 12-tone row and expands stylistically. Orchestration is piano, strings, percussion, guitar, and saxophone.

Ribbon of Sand (2007)

Directed by John Grabowska. Narrated by Grabowska and Meryl Streep. This is my third collaboration with John, and another luminous and beautiful delight. The subject is Cape Lookout National Park, in the Outer Banks off the coast of North Carolina. This is a unique environment, with salt marshes, sounds, dunes, plentiful sea life, and a limited lifeline, since this fragile land naturally migrates. Once again John has infused the film with a vivid sense of the land's unique beauty, and what it can teach us about proper stewardship of the earth. The music is for harp, cimbalom, guitar, gongs, piano, synthesizers and chamber orchestra.

Remembered Earth (2004)

Directed by John Grabowska. Narrated by Irene Bedard and featuring N. Scott Momaday. This lushly-photographed 28-minute film celebrates and informs us about the El Malpais National Monument in northwest New Mexico. Consisting of spectacular and surprisingly varied landscape, the park is also the site of coal mining and other activities in sacrifice to the nation's energy needs. The film will play in the park's Visitor Center in Grants, NM, in film festivals and on PBS. The music is for small orchestra.

Exploring the Reef With Jean-Michel Cousteau (2003)

Directed by Roger Gould. This Pixar short features Jean-Michel Cousteau, who has an urgent environmental message he's trying to get across. The only problem is that certain animated characters, fascinated by the idea of being in a film, continually interrupt him and frustrate his educational efforts. Eventually he succeeds, and we learn about the problems that threaten the survival of the coral reef worldwide. The music is for small orchestra.

Crown of the Continent (2001)

Directed by John Grabowska. This 28-minute film plays continuously in the Wrangell-St. Elias (Alaska) National Park visitor center when it's open during the summer months. Shot over a two-year period, the film offers a poetic vision and spectacular images of some of the most dramatic landscape in North America. The music is for small orchestra.

The Man Who Counted (1998)

Directed by Curtiss Clayton. Starring Buck Henry and Shirley Knight. This 39-minute film follows a man into obsessive hell, as he finds that more and more, in this modern world, no one is as good as his word, and everyone's trying to cheat you. Confined to a mental institution for his increasingly violent outbursts, he finally finds some peace as he learns that, maybe, he was part of the problem. This score was beautifully realized by the Turtle Island String Quartet. Like a cross between the music for Psycho and Stranger Than Paradise, it's one of my favorites.

The Five Suns (1996)

Directed by Patricia Amlin. This exquisite hour-long animated film tells the Aztec creation story. Told through luminous animations based on the Borgia Group of codices, we learn how Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca create heaven and earth, journey to the underworld to create humans, and finally create the sun and the moon. Mazatl Galindo and I collaborated to create the music for this film, with Mazatl playing traditional Aztec instruments.

Broke (1995)

Directed by William Farley. This eleven-minute film is a kind of poem in sympathy with homeless people everywhere. Shot in a repeated motif of walking by homeless people from the perspective of the callous urban person too busy to care, and with a repeating litany of derogatory words, it's just images, this "dismissive mantra", and my score, which was performed by the Kronos Quartet.

Hot Summer Winds (1991)

Directed by Emiko Omori. This is a beautiful, hour-long dramatic film set in Steinbeck country in the thirties, based on two short stories by Hisaye Yamamoto. At the center of the story is a cross-cultural love affair between a Mexican migrant worker and a Japanese immigrant. The music reflects this mix, with steel-string rhythm guitar, norteno-style accordion, and nylon-string slide guitar that's reminiscent of the koto.

Popol Vuh (1988)

Directed by Patricia Amlin. This hour-long animated film is a feast for the eyes and ears. With her animation based on images found on Mayan pottery, Patricia brings to vivid life the Maya creation myth. Actors from Teatro Campesino provide the voices. Much of the music was originally composed by Mazatl Galindo and Jim Berenholtz. I composed some additional music and shaped the existing music to fit the final film.

End of Innocence: June 19th, 1953 (1981)

Directed by Stephen Stept. This is a thirty-minute drama depicting a young boy who learns about the impending Rosenberg execution on the radio, leading to nightmares and questions. My very first film score, for strings, vibraphone, and percussion.

A printer-friendly credits list can be found here.