Terence Blanchard scores Spike Lee’s war drama Miracle at St. Anna

Posted on July 1, 2008 by Dan Goldwasser

Recently, composer Terence Blanchard was at the Sony Scoring Stage in Culver City, CA to record his score to the new World War II drama, Miracle at St. Anna. Directed by Spike Lee and written by James McBride based on his novel, the film follows four African-American Buffalo Soldiers of the 92nd Infantry Division who get trapped near a small Tuscan village on the Gothic Line during the Italian Campaign of World War II.

Terence Blanchard conducts the Hollywood Studio Symphony

Blanchard conducted a 95-piece ensemble of the Hollywood Studio Symphony, as well as the 60-person Morehouse Glee Choir which was previously recorded. The heavily emotional score evokes the somber tone of World War II, while Blanchard’s jazz background clearly influences the melodic aspects. Featured pianist Fabian Almazan performs on the score.

The celli play on Miracle at St. Anna

Fabian Almazan on piano

The trumpet section

The string section

In the booth, scoring mixer Frank Wolf was engineering the score, which was orchestrated by Blanchard and Howard Drossin – who was also in the booth to provide assistance and feedback. ProTools recording was handled by stage recordist Adam Michalak, and music editor Marvin Morris made sure that cues were being recorded in an expedient manner. Blanchard’s manager Robin Burgess was the session coordinator, keeping things running smoothly, and director Spike Lee was also at the sessions, and would give Blanchard feedback when needed.

Scoring mixer Frank Wolf

Music editor Marvin Morris and orchestrator Howard Drossin

Music editor Marvin Morris, scoring mixer Frank Wolf, director Spike Lee and composer Terence Blanchard

Adding a little extra excitement to the last day of scoring sessions, at one point an external dispute across the street from the Sony lot resulted in a bomb threat – and the stage was evacuated due to the proximity to the incident as the Los Angeles and Culver City police departments cleared the area. The musicians ended up taking a bit of a longer lunch than planned, but in the end everything was resolved peacefully and the session resumed with no issues.

The orchestra is evacuated during a bomb scare

Director Spike Lee and composer Terence Blanchard thank the orchestra

Miracle at St. Anna will be released by Touchstone Pictures on September 26, 2008.

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