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Michael A. Levine

Michael A. Levine (born 20 February 1964 in Tokyo, Japan) is an American composer, music producer and screenwriter born in Japan and currently based in Los Angeles. He is best-known for his work in film and television.

Michael A. Levine
Michael Levine Headshot 2018.jpg
Background information
Born (1964-02-20) February 20, 1964 (age 54)
Tokyo, Japan
Genres
Occupation(s)
Instruments
Website www.michaellevinemusic.com

Contents

Early CareerEdit

Trained as a violinist, Levine began his career as a studio musician in New York in the 1980s playing both keyboards and violin. He appeared on recordings and/or live performances with Carla Bley[1], Michael Mantler[1], John Greaves[2], Peter Blegvad[3], Joe Jackson[4], Lenny Kravitz[5], and Marianne Faithfull[6]. His violin is a signature sound on Faithfull's rendition of "Boulevard of Broken Dreams".[7]

In the mid-1980s, Levine led the New York City-based New Wave quartet, No Guitars, in which he sang and played electric violin. The band released a self-titled album in 1982. No Guitars' "I Don't Believe It" was one of the first videos on the newly-launched MTV. The Music Paper out of Long Island quoted Yes and Moody Blue keyboardist, Patrick Moraz, calling Levine "The Jimi Hendrix of the violin”, an opinion echoed by many[8][9].

By the late 1980s, he switched his emphasis to composition, first making a name in advertising. With lyricist Ken Shuldman, he wrote "Gimme a Break", the Kit Kat jingle.[9] In a 2003 study of earworms (tunes that get stuck in people's heads) Univ. of Cincinnati researcher James Kellaris named "Gimme a Break" as one of the top ten worst offenders.[10]

Film and TVEdit

In the 2000s, Levine’s established himself as a television composer with the dramas Cold Case and Close to Home, both produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. In 2007, he scored the features Adrift in Manhattan and Columbus Day and in 2011, the thriller No One Will Know. In 2012 he became the composer for the George Lucas-produced Star Wars Detours animated series featuring Seth Green and Seth MacFarlane.

Levine also produced, with Michael Wolff, the songs for the Nickelodeon TV preteen comedy series and combo, The Naked Brothers Band. One of the songs, Crazy Car, peaked at #83 on the Top 200 Billboard Charts and was written by musician/actor Nat Wolff, thought to be the youngest person to ever compose a charting song (He was 6 when he wrote the song).[11]

Michael has done extensive work for other film composers including Hans Zimmer, Harry Gregson-Williams, Rupert Gregson-Williams, and Cliff Martinez as an arranger and composer of additional music. He was the arranger of the choral version of "Spider-Pig" from The Simpsons Movie and co-composed the Megamind theme alongside Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe as well as writing additional music. In addition, he composed the music for the murder scene in Harry Gregson-Williams' score for Veronica Guerin.

Levine often plays violin on his and others' recordings. He received on screen credit for his violin work on Hans Zimmer's score for Dunkirk.[12] Levine had previously played on Zimmer’s and James Newton Howard's score for the Batman movie, The Dark Knight.[12] An accomplished whistler, Levine performed on Christopher Lennertz's score to The Wedding Ringer.[13] He also plays tenor violin and the ciola (pronounced chee OH la) an instrument the size of a viola but which sounds in the same range as a cello.

In an interview for Video DailyMotion, Levine stated, “I am a violist by training, a keyboard player by necessity, a guitarist by aspiration and a harmonica player just to annoy people..." before jamming out on a harmonica.[14]

In 2009, Levine and composer Mac Quayle performed a series of Sleep Concerts under the name of Zeitgeist & Kismet with Levine on looping electric violin and Quayle on keyboards. Attendees brought pillows, blankets and sleeping mats. It is not known whether the later Max Richter concerts were influenced by them.[15]

In 2013 Levine, with Lucas Cantor, arranged and produced Lorde’s spooky rendition of “Everybody Wants to Rule The World” from the Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack. The cover was later used by numerous other projects including a promo for the new network BBC First and in the trailer for the 2014 film Dracula Untold.[16] The rendition appeared on the New Zealand Singles Chart at number 14.[17] It reached number 53 in Australia, number 65 in the UK, number 93 in France, and number 27 on the US Hot Rock Songs.[18] In addition, Levine and Cantor also produced Demarest's cover of the Neil Young classic ""Heart of Gold," which was featured in the official trailer for Out of the Furnace.

Levine wrote the score for the 2015 documentary Landfill Harmonic, which tells the story of the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, Paraguay. The film has won numerous awards at festivals worldwide including the World Cinema Award at the 2015 AFI Festival[19] and the Audience Award in the 24 Beats Per Second category at 2015 SXSW[20]. He also composed the closing credits song, Cateura – Vamos a Soñar with lyricists Mariana Barreto and Rodolfo Madero.

Levine worked on numerous projects between 2016 and 2017 including Lego DC Super Hero Girls: Brain Drain, which won the 2018 Golden Reel Award for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing[21], and Served Like a Girl, a documentary about U.S. female service personnel returning to civilian life after tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Served Like a Girl was a nominee for the SXSW 2017 Grand Jury Award.[22]

In 2018, Levine composed the score for Siren, a Freeform (formerly ABC Family) science fiction series about the arrival of an enigmatic mermaid whose appearance spells havoc for a small fishing town. Based on a story by executive producers Eric Wald and Dean White, Siren was screened at the 2017 New York Comic Con[23] and is slated for March 29, 2018 U.S. premiere[24].

As a screenwriter, Levine has been a semifinalist twice for the Oscar’s Nicholl Fellowship. The first time for Levine's script Useless, about Pres. Ulysses S. Grant.[25] Followed by a nod for Levine’s screenplay for The Last Battleship, based on a true story involving his father, Solomon B. Levine, who was the translator for the Japanese Admiral who designed the Yamato[26].

Levine is the recipient of eight ASCAP awards[27], two Clio awards, an NEA grant[28], a Meet The Composer grant, and a Massachusetts Arts Foundation grant.

Video GamesEdit

At E3 2014, the Levine produced Lorde’s version of “Everybody Wants to Rule The World”, was used in the cinematic trailer of Assassin's Creed Unity.[29] The trailer garnered over 38 million views on YouTube.

In 2017, Michael wrote and produced the theme song for Resident Evil VII Biohazard, the first Virtual Reality game in the series. The song, a reworking and expansion of the traditional Go Tell Aunt Rhody, is sung by U.K.- based New Zealander, Jordan Reyne.[30]

Concert and Theater MusicEdit

His Concerto for Pedal Steel Guitar and Orchestra is believed to be the first concerto ever written for the pedal steel guitar. It was premiered on April 16, 2005, in a performance by the Nashville Chamber Orchestra with Gary Morse (of Dierks Bentley and Dwight Yoakam's bands) as soloist, and Paul Gambill as conductor.[31]

Levine also composed Divination By Mirrors for musical saw and strings. It was premiered in New York City's Merkin Hall in 1998 by the New York Virtuosi with Dale Stuckenbruck as the saw soloist.[32][33] The piece makes extensive use of quarter tones and golden mean sections.

Levine has also written several opera and musical theater pieces including Orpheus Electronica (2000), widely believed to be the first "rave opera".[34][35] Orpheus was developed for the stage by William Philip McKinley, who directed Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark and The Boy From Oz on Broadway.

The 2009 production of Jim Leonard's Battle Hymn by the Circle X Theatre garnered Michael a LA Weekly Award for Original music.[36]

GovernorshipEdit

Levine served as a Governor of the Television Academy (Emmys) Music Peer Group for two consecutive terms from 2013-2016.[37][38] During his tenure, Levine fought for - and achieved - the inclusion of music supervisors to the Academy[39], as well as the creation of the first Emmy for Music Supervision[40]. While Governor, Levine created Score!, the first Academy-sponsored orchestral concert of television music, performed on May 21, 2014..[41] And, with fellow Governor Rickey Minor, he created Words + Music, a concert of songs and scores from television, performed on June 29, 2017.[42]

Filmography (as composer)Edit

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

  • City 40
  • Fugly!

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

1999

Video Games (as composer)Edit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Michael Mantler / Carla Bley - 13 & 3/4". Discogs. Retrieved 2018-03-20. 
  2. ^ Vitko (2015-01-03). "Different Perspectives In My Room...!: JOHN GREAVES / PETER BLEGVAD / LISA HERMAN – Kew. Rhone. (LP-1977)". Different Perspectives In My Room...!. Retrieved 2018-03-20. 
  3. ^ "John Greaves / Peter Blegvad / Lisa Herman - Kew. Rhone". Discogs. Retrieved 2018-03-20. 
  4. ^ "The Zummos - Modern Marriage". Discogs. Retrieved 2018-04-17. 
  5. ^ "Resident Evil 7, Spider Pig, and Lorde an Interview With Michael A. Levine". CGMagazine. 2017-05-27. Retrieved 2018-03-20. 
  6. ^ "Strange Weather (Marianne Faithfull album)". Wikipedia. 2018-02-16. 
  7. ^ "Strange Weather - Marianne Faithfull | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2018-03-20. 
  8. ^ "Cold Case". www.g-pop.net. Retrieved 2018-03-20. 
  9. ^ a b "The Secret Jewish History Of The Kit Kat Jingle". The Forward. Retrieved 2018-03-20. 
  10. ^ Kovler, Jessica. "When the Brain Grabs a Tune and Won't Let Go." The New York Times, 11 Aug. 2003. Web. 27 Aug. 2014.
  11. ^ "The Naked Brothers Band". Billboard. Retrieved 2018-03-20. 
  12. ^ a b "Hans-Zimmer.com - Michael A. Levine". www.hans-zimmer.com. Retrieved 2018-03-20. 
  13. ^ The Wedding Ringer (2015), retrieved 2018-04-17 
  14. ^ "Healing using Music with Michael Levine - Video Dailymotion". Dailymotion. 2014-07-22. Retrieved 2018-04-17. 
  15. ^ Levine, Michael A. Levine (2009-01-11). "Sleep II: Revenge of the Sheep" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-01-11. 
  16. ^ Ellwood, Gregory (27 June 2014). "'Dracula Untold's new trailer needs a Lorde cover to rule the world". HitFix. Retrieved 28 June 2014.
  17. ^ muzic.net.nz. "Everybody Wants To Rule The World - Lorde - Top 40 Singles". www.muzic.net.nz. Retrieved 2018-03-20. 
  18. ^ "Song of the Day: Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears (cover by Lorde)". The Dancing Rest. 2014-06-25. Retrieved 2018-03-20. 
  19. ^ http://blog.afi.com/afi-fest-2015-award-winners-announced/
  20. ^ "Audience Award: 24 Beats Per Second: Landfill Harmonic". SXSW Schedule 2015. Retrieved 2018-03-20. 
  21. ^ Slack, Anne. "65th Annual GRA Animation Winners". www.mpse.org. Retrieved 2018-03-20. 
  22. ^ "Female Veterans of 'Served Like a Girl' Are Not 'Damsels in Distress'". TheWrap. 2017-11-07. Retrieved 2018-03-20. 
  23. ^ Levine, Michael A. "Going to #NYCC?". @MLMusic. Retrieved 2018-03-20. 
  24. ^ Ramos, Dino-Ray (2017-10-08). "Freeform's Mermaid Drama 'Siren' Gets Premiere Date, Casts Duo, Releases Clip". Deadline. Retrieved 2018-03-20. 
  25. ^ "Academy Nicholl 2009 Ceremony | 2009". Oscars.org | Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 2018-03-20. 
  26. ^ "Solomon B. Levine". Wikipedia. 2016-04-01. 
  27. ^ "Michael A. Levine | Television Academy". Television Academy. Retrieved 2018-03-20. 
  28. ^ "ArtScope.net News:NEA AWARDS $19,432,000 IN 819 NEW GRANTS". www.artscope.net. Retrieved 2018-03-20. 
  29. ^ "Assassin's Creed Unity trailer". 3 News (MediaWorks New Zealand). 12 June 2014. Archived from the original on 14 June 2014.
  30. ^ Alexander, Mike. "Kiwi singer Jordan Reyne features in Resident Evil 7 trailer". Stuff. Retrieved 24 January 2017. 
  31. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-12-22. Retrieved 2014-10-23. 
  32. ^ "violin and musical saw". violin-saw.com. Retrieved 2018-03-20. 
  33. ^ (1998). New Yorker, Volume 74, Issues 1-10, p.23. F-R Pub. Corporation.
  34. ^ "Rhymes and The Greatest F You Song Ever Written". Behind The Audio. 2016-05-23. Retrieved 2018-03-20. 
  35. ^ "Kurrent Music. A Collaborative Music Blog". www.kurrentmusic.com. Retrieved 2018-03-20. 
  36. ^ "Battle Hymn | Circle X Theatre Co". circlextheatre.org. Retrieved 2018-04-17. 
  37. ^ "Television Academy Elects New Peer Group Governors for 2013-14". Television Academy. Retrieved 2018-03-20. 
  38. ^ "TV Academy Names 11 First-Time Members of Board of Governors". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2018-03-20. 
  39. ^ "TV Academy Allows Music Supervisors Membership". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2018-03-20. 
  40. ^ Burlingame, Jon (2017-05-31). "Music Supervisors Celebrate Finally Winning Recognition From Creative Arts Emmys". Variety. Retrieved 2018-03-20. 
  41. ^ Seikaly, Andrea. "'Walking Dead' Zombies Invade, 'Game of Thrones' Battle Ensues at TV Academy Concert." Variety. Variety, 24 May 2014. Web. 27 Aug. 2014. <https://variety.com/2014/scene/vpage/walking-dead-zombies-invade-game-of-thrones-battle-ensues-at-tv-academy-concert-1201189065/>.
  42. ^ "Chris Pierce and Rickey Minor perform at WORDS + MUSIC, presented Thursday, June 29, 2017 at the Television Academy's Wolf Theatre at the Saban Media Center in North Hollywood, California. | Television Academy". Television Academy. Retrieved 2018-03-20. 

External linksEdit