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‘Wicked’ Composer Stephen Schwartz Honored in Words and Song at ASCAP Screen Music Awards

Variety logo Variety 5/17/2017 Jon Burlingame
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Broadway and film composer Stephen Schwartz received the Founders Award of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) at its annual Screen Music Awards Tuesday night at Los Angeles’ historic Wiltern Theatre.

The “Wicked” and “Prince of Egypt” songwriter was praised as “a genius” by fellow songwriter Paul Williams, president and board chairman of the performing-rights organization, citing such classic songs as “Day by Day” from “Godspell” and “Colors of the Wind” from “Pocahontas.”

Schwartz was serenaded by an eight-person chorus of younger Broadway songwriters who had been mentored by Schwartz over the years; they sang “For Good” from “Wicked.” Schwartz has served as artistic director for ASCAP’s Musical Theatre workshop in New York and Los Angeles for more than 20 years.

Schwartz said ASCAP “has always had my back as a songwriter, and has always been in the forefront fighting to preserve my rights of copyright, and to actually allow me to make a living from what I do.” He thanked the organization for “supporting and nurturing generations of writers.”

Megan Hilty sang “Corner of the Sky” from Schwartz’s “Pippin,” and the L.A. Gay Men’s Chorus did a medley of Schwartz songs from stage and film. Offering video tributes were Victor Garber (who once played Jesus in “Godspell”), tunesmiths Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (“Dear Evan Hansen,” “La La Land”), and producers Jeffrey Katzenberg and Marc Platt.

Also presented were three Composers’ Choice Awards, voted on by ASCAP composers and songwriters. Michael Giacchino won Film Score of the Year for “Zootopia”; Didier Lean Rachou, TV Composer of the Year for TLC’s “Long Island Medium” and Discovery’s “Yukon Men”; and, in a tie for Video Game Score of the Year, Tom Salta and Klayton for “Killer Instinct: Season 3” and Michael Salvatori, Skye Lewin and C. Paul Johnson for “Destiny: Rise of iron.”

The music-filled 90-minute show opened with Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein performing their theme from the series “Stranger Things.” Benjamin Wallfisch conducted a 20-piece orchestra and eight-voice choir in music from his score for “Hidden Figures”; Austin Wintory conducted a piece from his video game “Abzu”; and Alex Heffes and Jesse Voccia performed music from their TV series “11.22.63” and “Bosch” respectively.

Also performed was a suite from Henry Jackman’s score for “Captain America: Civil War,” which won top box-office honors for ASCAP film music during the past year. David Vanacore again took top prize for “most performed theme and underscore” for his music for TV series including “Survivor.”

ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews reported that $918 million in royalties was distributed to member songwriters and composers last year.

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