January 29, 2023

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John Williams writes new theme for ESPN’s college football championships

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Legendary composer John Williams wrote an original theme for ESPN’s College Football Playoff National Championship, which airs Monday at 7:30 p.m. Eastern before the TCU-Georgia game at Sophie Stadium in Inglewood, California.

Titled “Of Grit and Glory,” it runs three-and-a-half minutes and will score a specially created visual series that captures “the feelings behind the night, the fears and expectations, the triumphs and failures,” said ESPN co-director and producer Martin Khodabakhshian. diversity

Williams’ New Theme – Preview diversity Late Thursday – plays like an exhilarating overture, opening with a bang and shifting seamlessly from martial urgency to anthemic grandeur, all richly orchestrated and instantly memorable.

Khodabakhshian and his co-director and Victory Pictures editor Michael Shealis dreamed up the world’s most famous film composer to write the music for their first sequence. So three months ago, at the request of lead game producer Bill Bonnell (who had worked with the composer on past Olympic events), they wrote what Khodabakhshian called “a love letter” to Williams, outlining their thinking and gently probing the possibilities. A key theme.

“On ESPN’s biggest stage, our Super Bowl, there’s no better person in the world to write about emotions and things than John Williams,” Khodabakhshian said. Cialis added: “We wrote about the passion of bringing people together, not just the competitive aspect, but how the audience is affected.”

Two days later, word came back: “He has begun to write something.” The ESPN team jumped into action, a visual sequence that featured “college football heroes and legends from all eras” but added “the beauty of Hollywood and California,” notes Khodabakhshian, where the game will be held.

Williams conducted a 96-piece orchestra on the Sony Scoring stage on December 21. And ESPN was there with seven cameras, shooting the entire three-hour recording session, parts of which would intertwine throughout the opening – “so you feel the energy of those orchestra members, and John, playing this music for the first time, so the audience can feel it too. ,” said Cialis.

The “restlessness and excitement” associated with Williams having a new anthem for their big college football game was palpable throughout the ESPN executive suite, Cialis said. Yet it remained a secret until today. On Saturday, ESPN will tease the opening and Williams scores during its NFL Wild Card doubleheader.

Williams’ new music will be heard throughout the TCU-Georgia matchup. He recorded several takes of the original piece as well as shorter parts, “a rejoinder part and a vamp,” reports Cialis; “Cutdowns and Stingers”, short pieces that could be used during the game, were edited in the days following the December 21 session.

“He captures the spirit of the night,” says Cialis. Khodabakhshian admitted that he broke down in tears after the recording session. “I’m so overwhelmed and grateful because he’s the goat!”

It is believed to be the largest musical commission ever for a sports network. It’s unclear what will happen with the pieces after Monday night. ESPN could theoretically use it in future college football broadcasts; No plans for a commercial release have apparently been discussed.

In terms of music for athletic competitions, the five-time Oscar winner has written four Olympic fanfares, a gridiron march for NBC’s football coverage and the score for Kobe Bryant’s Oscar-winning short “Dear Basketball.” He has not written music for television since his “Great Performance” theme for PBS, which won a 2009 Emmy.

Williams, 90, was unavailable for comment. He is currently on the Oscar shortlist for his score for Steven Spielberg’s “The Fablemans” and has been working for the past few months on “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” slated for release on June 30.

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