Eli Brueggemann and Carlos Rafael Rivera Win Emmys
By Evan Calbi
USC Thornton had an impressive showing in the music categories of the 70th annual Emmy Awards. Winners included Jazz Studies alum Eli Brueggemann, the musical director of Saturday Night Live, and Screen Scoring alumnus Carlos Rafael Rivera, who wrote the original score for Godless. Both took home their first awards.
In addition, Gregg Field, the chair of USC Thornton’s Board of Councilors, won in the category of Best Musical Direction, and Screen Scoring alum Chris Bacon joined Rivera as a nominee in the category of Original Main Title Theme Music.
Eli Brueggemann wins first Emmy for his work on Saturday Night Live
Eli Brueggemann (MM ’03), the musical director and composer for Saturday Night Live, has a wild job. Week after week, the alum of USC Thornton’s Jazz Studies program puts his improvisational skills to work as the musical director and composer for the storied franchise, writing and producing all of the music that airs on the show.
That exceptional work was recognized last Saturday when Brueggemann won his first Emmy in the category of Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics for the song, “Come Back Barack” along with Chris Redd, Kenan Thompson, and Will Stephen.
Brueggemann received his award as part of the Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony at the Microsoft Theatre LA LIVE in Los Angeles.
“We do a little bit of everything, from in the box productions to live recordings of the band,” Brueggemann told Apogee. “I’ve composed pop, funk, Latin, traditional jazz, EDM, dubstep, Broadway, cabaret, jingles… and more. All in the service of helping the joke along for the brilliant writers at SNL.”
Composer Carlos Rafael Rivera wins for original score for Godless
Composer and Thornton alumnus Carlos Rafael Rivera (MM ’04, DMA ’10) won his first Emmy Award for his original score for the Netflix limited series, Godless. The two-time alum, who won in the category of Original Main Title Theme Music, received a second nomination in the category of Outstanding Music Composition for a Limited Series, Movie or Special (Original Dramatic Score).
“When it came time to write the main theme for Godless, we tried to find a singable melody, something that we could carry with us and would help encapsulate the story. Having the legendary T Bone Burnett as executive music producer, as well as mix the main theme, influenced and inspired my approach to scoring the story,” said Rivera, a faculty member at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music.
Godless was produced by Steven Soderbergh and written and directed by Scott Frank, with whom Rivera previously worked on the 2014 feature film, A Walk Among the Tombstones.
Chris Bacon (MM ’05), an alum of USC Thornton’s Screen Scoring program, was also nominated in the category of Original Main Title Theme Music for his original score for the show, The Tick.
“It’s thrilling to see that two of the six nominees in the category of Original Main Title Theme Music were alums from our Screen Scoring program, and congratulations to Carlos for winning his first Emmy,” said Screen Scoring program director Daniel Carlin. “We’re just very proud of all of the winners and nominees across the Contemporary Music Division.”
Gregg Field wins Emmy for Outstanding Music Direction
Not all of the awards this year were for first-time winners. Multiple GRAMMY Award winner and 2010 “Producer of the Year,” Gregg Field won an Emmy in the category of Music Direction for the PBS special, Tony Bennett: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize For Popular Song.
The special, which premiered in January, celebrated the famed crooner as he received the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize.
The chair of USC Thornton’s Board of Councilors, Field has had a remarkable career as a drummer, music director, producer, label owner, educator, and more.
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