The recent reopening of the Henry Mancini Institute in Maimi, FL inspired me to write some remarks on my experience with this summer music festival during its years in Los Angeles. “HMI” was founded by family and protégés of the great film and jazz composer Henry Mancini and provided young orchestral players, jazz musicians, and composers the experience of life in Los Angeles studio, jazz, and film music. All participants were given full scholarships and mentored by some of the best musicians in Los Angeles.
As a composer participant for two seasons (2002 and 2004) I was commissioned to write orchestral pieces combining jazz with classical elements to be performed during the summer concert series at UCLA (University of California Los Angeles). The music can be heard and seen elsewhere on this site (see the Downloads page and this video). These summers afforded the chance to observe rehearsals with legendary Hollywood composers David Raksin, Johnny Mandel, Alf Clausen (of The Simpsons fame) and others. Musicians I met at the Henry Mancini Institute include Gordy Haab, Kyle Newmaster, Jack Smalley, Vince Mendoza, Justin DiCioccio.
In December 2002 following my first summer at HMI, Ginny Mancini, Henry’s wife of 43 years, presented me with the ASCAP Mancini Scholar Award at the ASCAP Awards at Lincoln Center. Incidentally, Stephen Sondheim received a lifetime achievement award at the same ceremony, slated to be the final event of the evening. Due to a blizzard my plane was hours late, and I wound up arriving just in time to follow this titan of music theater onto the stage at the last possible moment. Mr. Sondheim and I have never met, but I always felt I owed him an apology.
My connection to Henry Mancini through the circle of Indiana-based musicians who toured with him for decades, including Dick Dennis, Mike Lucas, Jack Gilfoy and Al Cobine contributed to making “HMI” an important part of my training in both composition and conducting. The Henry Mancini Institute closed in Los Angeles after the 2006 season and has recently reopened as a year-round program of the Frost School of Music, University of Miami.