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Film Music Review (Volumes 1-7)






Music composed and conducted by William Ross

16 Tracks (Playing Time = 45:11)


Album produced by William Ross and Ford A. Thaxton. Executive Album Producers: Ford A. Thaxton and Mark Banning. Orchestrations by William Ross. Score recorded by Armin Steiner and Tim Bryson. Digital Mixer: Larry Mah. Digitally Edited and Mastered by James Nelson. CD Art Direction: Mark Banning. Score recorded at the Newman Scoring Stage, 20th Century Fox, Capitol Studios, Robert Irving Studios.

BSX Records BSXCD 8830

Limited Edition of 1000 Units

Rating: ***1/2


William Ross is a film composer, conductor, arranger and music director. He has received an Emmy and several other awards as well. Still, he may not be known to many filmgoers. But he should be better known. He has composed some good scores, such as LADDER 49 and MY DOG SKIP. He has also been very active as an orchestrator for more than 100 films.

His latest film score is for SEPTEMBER DAWN is another fine score, with a finely etched series of cues exhibiting the strong emotions accompanying the film's somber story which depicts the Mountain Meadows Massacre in Utah on 11 Septmber 1857, when most of a group containing men, women and children travellers on their way to California were slaughtered by Mormons disguised as Paiute Indians. This remains a controversial subject today with the Mormon Church, because their leader, Brigham Young, may have been involved in the cover-up of this massacre. Obviously this is a highly charged film story. A composer might have chosen to feature a robust score full of heavy brass and percussion. But instead, Ross has wisely chosen to keep it quiet and reflective with just a small group of musicians employed. The soloists featured are: Bruce Dukov, violinist; Steven Erdody, cello; Dean Parks, guitars; Jim Walker, flute; Windy Wagner, vocals; and William Ross, piano.

The opening Main Title (2:44) features the solo cello accompanied by a repeated piano pattern and then changes to a livelier dancelike tempo featuring flute, guitar and orchestra. The quieter moods are employed more and pretty much sets the stage (no pun intended) for most of the score. The use of darker instrumental colors works quite well in this score. For example on track, "Meeting the Saints" (track 7, 2:02), or the lovely serene theme heard in "Love at First Sight" (track 8, 2:32), and also probably the most poignant cue on the CD for "Emily and Jonathan" (track 11, 4:53). Another highly emotional track is the longest one, titled "Elegy" (track 13, 5:10), with a fine cello solo performance and featuring a wordless vocal by Windy Wagner.

The entire score is well recorded and the sound is very clean.

The CD notes are on the skimpy side but do give a brief summary of the composer's background and about the film relevance to today's religious fanaticism. Also this comment from the film's director, Christopher Cain: "The art of composing is to enhance the emotion of the images on the screen. Nobody does this better than Bill Ross." Certainly this score is a good example of his talent as a film composer who is sensitive to the film's story.

SEPTEMBER DAWN is a very subtle and beautiful score and can be enjoyed even without the film visuals and dialogue.

William Ross has provided a most agreeable listening experience if you are in a contemplative frame of mind.

This is not one of those loud action scores. Instead, it is a very good example of poignant music accompanying an emotionally charged film story.



--Roger L. Hall, 22 October 2007

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