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  Special Merit 

 

THE GREATEST MIRACLE (EL GRAN MILAGRO)

Music composed by Mark Mckenzie.

17 tracks (Playing Time = 52:20)

Executive Album Producers: Ford A. Thaxton and Mark Banning.
Album Produced by Mark McKenzie.
Symphony orchestra and chorus conducted by Gordon Johnson.
Libera Boys Choir Conductor: Robert Prizeman.
Mixing Engineer: Armin Steiner.
Scoring Engineer: Brian Valentino.
Supervising Music Editor: Marc S. perlman
Music Preparation: Gregg nestor.
Orchestrations: Mark McKenzie
Digitally Edited and Mastered by James Nelson.

BSX Records BSXCD 8894

Rating: ****

CD Tracks:

1. The Greatest Miracle Prelude (7:32)
2. Call of the Spirit (2:36)
3. Entering The Cathedral (2:20)
4. Angels, Demons and prayer (5:32)
5. Reclaiming Faith (3:12)
6. Benedictus Deus (1:36)
7. You'll See (1:15)
8. Offerings (2:25)
9. Ask For What You Want (1:41)
10. I Miss You (3:33)
11. Ultimate Love (4:45)
12. A Clean Soul (3:03)
13. Go IN Peace (4:03)
14. That Beautiful Smile (2:34)
15. Ascension/ Gloria Patri (1:46)

BONUS TRACKS:

16. Pictures With Black Bow (1:47)
17. Bus Accident (1:56)

Editor's Note:

This is an exceptional and inspiring film score for the 3D animated family film and is well worth adding to your collection. Becuase of its high quality THE GREATEST MIRACLE CD has been given the designation of Special Merit.
-- Roger Hall

Please read the detailed review by Steve Vertlieb which follows...

 

 

Introduction

These pages have long lamented the death of memorable melodic themes in music composed for the cinema. The long and enduring tradition of music for the movies has yielded much of the most beautiful symphonic scoring of the twentieth century and will, in future generations, come to be regarded as the most significant “classical” music of our generation. Following the heyday of the golden age of motion picture music, however, film studios and producers began laying waste to the concept of the so-called “Hollywood Sound,” searching instead for minimalist composers and scores.

While musicians such as John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith continued to work in traditional realms of thematic structure, many of the newer composers found it easier simply to write wall to wall, nondescript music, wholly lacking either in discipline, narrative form, or inspiration. Lee Holdridge, James Newton Howard, and Bruce Broughton courageously fought to bring both beauty and vitality to their work but only James Newton Howard found employment with any degree of regularity. Modern film producers and directors looked increasingly upon the more traditional manner of writing music for films with suspicion and an uncomfortable degree of jealousy, perhaps fearing that their own visual presentation might somehow become upstaged, usurped, or completely compromised by a score possessed of individuality, or having a vital, genuine personality of its own.

The now classic example of jealous competition and rivalry disrupting these once synchronous collaborations would be the ultimate deterioration and dissolution of the once idyllic artistic partnership between Alfred Hitchcock and his primary musical collaborator, Bernard Herrmann. When Herrmann’s identification with Hitchcock’s films began to eclipse the work of the legendary director himself, the aging Hitchcock severed the artistic umbilical chord connecting their association, and moved on to largely lesser composers whose work might become less imposing or threatening. Seemingly the last of the great Hollywood composers, John Williams continues sporadically to work in film. However, age is tragically beginning to overtake this brilliant composer who will turn eighty years of age in 2012. While Steven Spielberg continues to treasure his long association with the grand old man of traditional film music, reaching new heights of musical grandeur and beauty with their collaboration on WAR HORSE, the notes are clearly written on the wind.

 

THE GREATEST MIRACLE

That is why the arrival of a relatively new composer with the astonishing artistic range and ability of Mark McKenzie must be both welcomed and embraced with enthusiasm and cautious optimism. There had been speculative buzz both within and without the creative film community for many months about the score for a new 3D Mexican animated film entitled EL GRAN MILAGRO or THE GREATEST MIRACLE. Directed by Disney artist and writer, Bruce Morris, THE GREATEST MIRACLE tells the lovely spiritual story of three lost souls seeking answers and redemption in the face of personal tragedy. The film, offering hope to those facing an emotional journey’s end, has been gathering media attention and unusual critical praise, both for its story of hope and uplifting beauty, as well as for its deeply passionate and ethereal score by Mark McKenzie, deservedly winning the “Hollywood Music In Media Award” for “Best Indie Score”of 2011.

McKenzie’s gloriously beautiful score recalls the work of Alfred Newman and Elmer Bernstein, and yet is strikingly individual. McKenzie has seemingly adopted the path taken many years earlier by Hugo Friedhofer in orchestrating the music for many of the screen’s most acclaimed composers, including John Williams and the late, great Jerry Goldsmith. His scores include SAVING SARAH CAIN, THE ULTIMATE GIFT, BLIZZARD, and THE DISAPPEARANCE OF GARCIA LORCA.

With his work for THE GREATEST MIRACLE, however, McKenzie has touched the soul with the unfathomable beauty of his music. Let there be no misunderstanding -- THE GREATEST MIRACLE is a truly great score, rising to spiritual heights unheard since the glory days of Alfred Newman and his music for THE SONG OF BERNADETTE.

As Randall Larson recounts in the liner notes for the album, released by BSX Records, McKenzie received his Masters and Doctorate in music composition from USC, after studying with such noted composers as Pierre Boulez, Witold Lutoslawski and Morten Lauridsen. He was awarded the coveted “Hans J. Salter Composition Award,” and “The Norman Cousins Award” during the course of his formal training, and was honored as the “USC Outstanding Doctoral Music Graduate.”

For the recording of his score for THE GREATEST MIRACLE, McKenzie worked both in his personal studio and at the 20th Century Fox Newman Scoring Stage in Hollywood. As Larson recounts, “The orchestra and choir material is supplemented by pre-recorded piano, pipe organ, celesta, and various percussion tracks” recorded at his studio. The soundtrack performance and recording were additionally aided by a 32 voice mixed choir, as well as a 24 voice women’s choir, and the prestigious 17 boy London soprano ensemble “Libera.”

Deeply spiritual and religious, McKenzie found joyous artistic inspiration from his own singular humanity, and belief in the goodness of creation. His music for THE GREATEST MIRACLE must be listened to. This is an important score in the continuing evolution and maturation of American motion picture music. It is unashamedly old fashioned at its core, and deeply affecting in its profound creativity and influence. McKenzie’s music is truly significant in the sense that it underscores once again the natural affinity of music and film, and is a powerful testament to the undeniable truth of music’s power to elevate its visual counterpart to infinite grandeur and glory. While a mediocre score may take nothing from the personality or identity of a director’s work, or detract from the importance of that cinematic statement, a great score can elevate the power and beauty of a film to spiritual heights never conceived of by its author.

 

Composer David Raksin once remarked that “more great scores have saved bad films” than justice or memory can recall. That is what the great composers of Hollywood’s Golden Age were able to do. Miklos Rozsa, Bernard Herrmann, Alfred Newman, Max Steiner, Franz Waxman, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Dimitri Tiomkin, Hugo Friedhofer, and Victor Young were able to musically translate the visions of the directors they worked with to the highest pinnacle of screen imaginings, in much the same way as Elmer Bernstein, John Barry, Jerry Goldsmith, and John Williams were permitted to contribute in the years that followed. These treasured associations and collaborations became “the stuff that dreams are made of.”

 

With the coming of Mark McKenzie and his astonishingly passionate, nearly heartbreaking score for THE GREATEST MIRACLE, hope has been reborn…and the promise of beauty fulfilled. Perhaps the Greatest Miracle of all is that the inspired music composed for, and uplifted by, this little animated film has brought to the mainstream a proud, gifted artist in the person of Mark McKenzie. His simple goodness, and artistic integrity hold ample promise for the future of original motion picture music. As the season and year draw to a close, we may celebrate the fruits of creative endeavor once more. The groundwork has been prepared, and the soil planted.

Only the passage of time, artistic purity, and joyous individuality will tell the rest of the story.

--Steve Vertlieb, 26 November, 2011

 

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