Rossano Galante received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Trumpet performance from SUNY Buffalo in 1992. That same year, he was accepted to the University of Southern California’s Film Scoring Program where he studied with the late Jerry Goldsmith, who won an Academy Award for his film score for The Omen.
In 1999, Mr. Galante moved to California to pursue a career in composition and film orchestration. Since then he has worked with two-time Oscar nominated composer Marco Beltrami, Christophe Beck, Brian Tyler, Christopher Lennertz and Wolfram de Marco.
Mr. Galante has composed music for the films Bite Marks, The Last Straight Man, Monday Morning and Channels. He has served as orchestrator for over fifty studio films including, The Mummy, Logan, Smurfs: The Lost Village, Ben Hur, Fantastic 4, Avengers: Age of Ultron, The Wolverine, A Good Day to Die Hard, Final Destination 5, Max Payne, The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning, Alvin and the Chipmunks, among many others.
His published compositions for large-scale Wind Ensemble are often commissioned by many wind bands and ensembles, and are very popular with both musicians and audience.
When and why did you start composing?
When I was in elementary school, our class was taken on a field trip to listen to the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. I was amazed by the sound of this ensemble. I thought to myself, “how does someone do this?”.
In 4th grade, I started studying trumpet and eventually joined the band, I was fascinated by what all the other instruments were playing. I wanted to write music and create beautiful sounds.
In 8th grade I wrote my first composition and invited about fifteen friends over my house to have a rehearsal of my brilliant music… my music was the opposite of brilliant, it was the worst music ever heard by human ears. My friends saw how upset I was and they said, “yes Rossano, it was awful, but your next piece will be a bit better”. I listened to my friends and decided not to quit.
When I was in 12th grade, my high school band sight read one of my pieces, and it was a success! That’s when I knew that composition was my greatest passion. Hearing your musical thoughts being performed by musicians is the greatest feeling ever.
Who are your influences? How did they inspire you in music writing?
The first score I actually saw was Debussy’s ‘Afternoon of a Faun’ which looked fantastic. I am influenced by many composers such as Mozart, Beethoven, Stravinsky, Brahms, John Williams, James Horner, Alan Silvestri and Jerry Goldsmith. I was inspired by the epic grandeur and romanticism of their music. I’m also a huge fan of concert band music!
You have composed several film music, and served as orchestrator for some. Do you feel your film experience helped you in writing for band?
Before I started my career as a film orchestrator, I was always a fan of film music. The heroic and romantic scores of the 80’s inspired me to compose in that cinematic style. I love music that can tell a story or take you on an adventure. When I finally started orchestrating movies, I would say it has helped me very much as a band composer, especially the utilization of mixed meter such as 5/8 and 7/8.
How different is writing for wind band as compared to film music? Do you often incorporate film music elements into your wind band compositions and vice versa?
Composing music for film can be very restrictive as the composer has to make sure his music doesn’t distract from the scene. Composing band music on the other hand does not have these restrictions.
When I’m composing concert band music, I’m not really thinking about a film, I’m thinking about a musical or an emotional story. Since most film music is in the tonal language, it makes sense that my concert band music might have that cinematic flair.
Where do you get your ideas from? Do you think of the audience when writing new music?
Tough to answer this one.
All I can say is that I sit at the piano and just start playing. Maybe I’ll come up with an attractive chord progression and then set a melody to it, or vice versa. It’s all emotional when I compose. I think of heartbreaking moments in my life and use them to create romantic, emotional themes. I always think, ‘will the listener enjoy this?’.
My theory is that if I like something I compose, then I would hope an audience would like it as well.
What would you consider the most challenging aspect of composing music?
The most challenging aspect is starting a new piece from nothing. It is very daunting. I struggle very much when I commence a new work. I power through but it is emotionally draining at times.
Do you have any favourite wind band works of your own?
I love ‘Russian Christmas Music’ by Alfred Reed – so fun to play and it’s a beautiful piece; it’s a classic. Of course, I also love a multitude of band works by Persichetti, Sheldon, Balmages, Mackey and many others.
What are some of your newer works that you have written or projects that you are working on? Could you talk about them?
I am always working on commissions – I take on at least 6-8 commissions a year.
My most recent releases are, ‘Life Eternal’ on Alfred Publications, a ballad inspired by the passing of a young musician, and ‘Phoenix Ascending’ on Hafabra Music, a cinematic adventure seen through the eyes of the Phoenix.
I have also orchestrated a few movies this year titled, ‘The Curse of Bridge Hollow’ and ‘Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Ranger’.
Lastly, do you have any advices for young composers?
Get as much composition education as you can, and study theory, counterpoint, form, harmony. Make sure you get live humans to play your music, it’s the best way to learn. Study other composers and follow their scores. Absorb as much music as you can and that will help you create your own style.