IU Jacobs School student Ari Fisher wins the first Jon Vickers Film Scoring Award


Ari Fisher poses for a portrait on Monday, May 18, 2015, inside the Recital Hall in Merrill Hall. Fisher is a master's student in the Composition Department within the Jacobs School of Music. James Brosher and James Brosher

The Jacobs School of Music and Indiana University Cinema have awarded the first Jon Vickers Film Scoring Award to music school student Ari Fisher.

According to the music school’s website, Fisher, a master’s student, will receive a $5,000 commission to score the 1916 silent film “The Return of Draw Egan.”

Fisher said he was completely honored to receive the award given how unique it is and views it as a great opportunity for both his career, the cinema and the music school.

“This will be an opportunity that will be ongoing, it’s definitely something that I won’t take for granted,” Fisher said. “I feel this is something that will grow and gain a great reputation within time. Getting this award with a live orchestra is truly rewarding to me.”

Fishers’ musical score presentation will premiere on Feb. 20, 2016, at IU Cinema. His original score for the silent film will be written for an orchestra of 17 to 18 instruments and conducted and performed by students from the music school.

Fishers was selected from a pool of other student competitors by a blind jury of seven IU staff members from the music school and the Media School, including Jon Vickers. Students were encouraged to submit original compositions to accompany a five-minute sequence from “The Return of Draw Egan.”

Vickers said silent films have always been an important part of the cinema. For the last 10 years, he went through a similar process in which he granted composers the opportunity to create scores for silent films.

“My wife and I put on a film festival called ‘The Sound of Silence Film Festival’ where we would have composers and bands come and create scores for silent films,” Vickers said. “This isn’t anything new for me, but to be able to offer this in a more formal way to students is new and exciting.”

The Jon Vickers Film Scoring Award is funded through the IU Cinema by P.A. Mack Jr., a member of the IU Foundation Board and former vice president of the IU Board of Trustees.

Fishers has produced scores for silent films for the IU Cinema before. In 2012, he composed an orchestral score for a screening of the 1922 silent film of “David Copperfield.” He has even gained experience outside of the music school by scoring for computer video games.

“The thing about being a film composer is that you need to be able to do it all in order to please a director or whoever you work with,” Fisher said. “You need to hear the sounds that people want and be in the know. You need to know all kinds of music.”

In preparation for the premiere of his film score, Fisher will be composing all summer and will repeatedly watch the film in order to line his score up with it.

He said he hopes his piece tells a story with the music without words and helps influence others.

“I want people to hear something new in this film, not something aged,” Fisher said. “This is one of those projects that forces you to think in a big scale. You need to think about how to make things interesting and what will gain people’s attention.”

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