Blake Neely


Biography

Who am I?

I'm a composer, conductor, arranger, orchestrator, pianist and author. I'm also a husband, father, brother and son. I like toys, odd musical instruments, skiing and tennis. I drive a Jeep. I work out of my studio, Cow On The Wall, in Los Angeles.

I was born in Paris, Texas, in 1969 and began playing around on the family piano at the age of four. My parents quickly got me lessons, and I soon began making my own little songs. The first piece was a little ditty called "Ghost Dance." It was awful, but it gave me an idea of what I wanted to do in life. At age eight, when I saw STAR WARS, I knew for sure.

I played the French horn in middle and high school marching band. In front of a mirror, I practiced conducting with a magic wand to a collection of Leonard Bernstein records my parents gave me. I continued playing piano and later bought some drums. (Of course, yes, I was in a couple of high school garage bands.) I purchased my first synthesizers when I was 14 -- a Casiotone MT-40, a Moog Bass, and a Mirage DSK.

Attending the University of Texas in Austin, I failed to impress the music panel with my piano playing, so I received a nice letter informing me that I was not accepted into the School of Music and "should consider another career path." In hindsight, probably the best letter I ever received.

While in college, I had the good fortune to secure a summer internship at Disney Studios in their film music department. This lead to my first job after college for Disney's Hollywood Records. After two years, I moved to Disney Music Publishing and managed their print music division. In 1996, I began freelance work: arranging music and writing method books for Hal Leonard Publishing. I authored more than 25 instrumental method books, including the best-selling piano method, "Piano for Dummies," and the award-winning series, "FastTrack Music Instruction."

That same year, I began orchestrating for my mentor and friend, composer Michael Kamen. His guidance, loyalty and introduction to the world of film music put me where I am today. In 2000, composer Vangelis hired me to orchestrate and conduct a large-scale oratorio of his called "Mythodea,". This work, culminating with a huge PBS concert from the Temple of Zeus in Athens, gave me exposure as a conductor. I was soon after introduced to composer Hans Zimmer, with whom I've enjoyed many collaborations and a great friendship.

During this time, I also pursued composing through my concert works, having premieres here and there and winning some small composition awards and commissions. But my big break came in 2002 when Greg Berlanti took a chance and hired me to score his television series "Everwood," for the WB. In its first year, I was honored with my first Emmy nomination for my main title theme. My success with "Everwood," led to many more television and film projects.

Over the years, I've been fortunate to work with some of the best music-makers in the business: Michael Kamen, James Newton Howard, Hans Zimmer, Vangelis, George Michael, Metallica, Jessye Norman, Kathleen Battle, the Kirov Orchestra, the Kodo drummers, the London Metropolitan Orchestra, the Czech Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Northwest Sinfonia, and many more.

I've written music for the Queen of England, for the opening games of the Winter Olympics, and even for a shuttle to Mars. My work has taken me to some fantastic places around the world, including England, France, Greece, Korea, Japan, Russia and New Zealand. I've scored pirates, knights, presidents, astronauts, a giant ape, Samurai warriors, doctors, lawyers, nuns, superheroes, a mentalist and a mortician. I've even gotten Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson and Forest Whitaker to conduct with me. And once I conducted in front of a TV audience of one billion people (the 2002 FIFA World Cup Final Draw).

I enjoy what I do. I hope you enjoy what I write.

 

What's with all the cows?

1. "Cow on the Wall" is the name of my publishing company and studio.

2. The cow on the wall is a large carved teak wood longhorn head that hangs in my studio.

3. I added more cows on the wall by commissioning my crazy genius artist brother to paint a cow mural on my studio's machine room doors, which also became the basis of the artwork on this site.

4. I'm from Texas and my father was a rancher. I was around them a lot.

5. Who doesn't love cows?