ACADEMY PARTNERS WITH MERCURY STUDIOS TO LAUNCH
JONAS GWANGWA MUSIC COMPOSITION INITIATIVE,
A CAREER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM FOR BLACK BRITISH MUSICIANS
Year-Long Program to Foster Broader Representation in Film Music Composition
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in partnership with Mercury Studios, today announced the launch of the Jonas Gwangwa Music Composition Initiative, a one-year career development program for Black British musicians interested in composing music for film. In celebration of the late South African musician, composer and Oscar® nominee Jonas Gwangwa, the program will provide real-world experience, one-on-one mentorship and networking opportunities, beginning in October 2022.
Part of the Academy’s ongoing Aperture 2025 global outreach and engagement efforts, the Jonas Gwangwa Music Composition Initiative aims to foster broader representation in film music composition, with an emphasis on Black British talent. Its creation was spearheaded by UK-based Academy members Gary Yershon (Music Branch), Misan Sagay (Writers Branch) and Nainita Desai (Music Branch).
“This initiative seeks to correct an imbalance. In contrast to the major contributions Black musicians are making to the music industry in the UK, their presence in the UK film industry is significantly lacking,” said Yershon, Sagay and Desai. “Through this program, we seek to build community amongst Black artists in the UK by highlighting opportunities to bridge film and music careers.”
The program is open to UK-based Black artists and composers with at least three years of work experience as a musician. Two participants, selected through an application process, will receive access to Academy members across various branches in order to gain an understanding of the filmmaking process; one-on-one mentorship with a member of the Academy’s Music Branch to learn about the practical aspects of composing for film; access to Academy events and screenings in London; and introductions to leading practitioners from all areas of film music, among other mentorship programming.
Participants will be matched with a filmmaker who is in the process of making a short film and will be given the opportunity to compose music for the film. The composition work will be funded by two grants from Universal Music Group’s Mercury Studios, a full-service, global production film and television studio, and Decca Records. Additional programming and support will be provided by Abbey Road Studios.
Gwangwa, who died in 2021, was a prominent South African jazz musician and composer. He received Oscar nominations for Original Score and Original Song for his work, with George Fenton, on “Cry Freedom” (1987).
Applications for the Jonas Gwangwa Music Composition Initiative are currently open. For more information visit https://oscars.org/learn/jonas-gwangwa-initiative.
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ABOUT THE ACADEMY
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a global community of more than 10,000 of the most accomplished artists, filmmakers and executives working in film. In addition to celebrating and recognizing excellence in filmmaking through the Oscars, the Academy supports a wide range of initiatives to promote the art and science of the movies, including public programming, educational outreach and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.
ABOUT MERCURY STUDIOS
Mercury Studios is a full-service production studio originating, producing, selling, distributing and investing in scripted, unscripted and live content. Editorially independent, Mercury Studios is powered by Universal Music Group and represents the world’s leading catalogue of music-related content.
ABOUT ABBEY ROAD STUDIOS
A global music icon and the world’s first purpose-built recording studio, Abbey Road Studios has been home to countless landmark recordings and pioneering advances in music technology over the last 90 years. The studios’ phenomenal history encompasses celebrated work by artists from The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Fela Kuti, Kate Bush, Oasis and Radiohead to Sam Smith, Florence + The Machine, Kanye West, Lady Gaga, Frank Ocean, Amy Winehouse, Brockhampton and Little Simz, as well as scores to films from “Raiders of The Lost Ark,” “The Lord of The Rings” trilogy and many of the “Harry Potter” and “Star Wars” movies, to “Gravity,” “The Shape of Water,” “1917,” “Black Panther,” “Black Widow” and “Avengers: Endgame.” Since stereo was patented at Abbey Road in 1933, the studios have been home to numerous innovations in recording technology and continue to innovate today with Europe’s first music tech incubator, Abbey Road Red. Abbey Road Studios is part of Universal Music. Discover more at www.abbeyroad.com.
ABOUT DECCA RECORDS
Established over 90 years ago, Decca is one of the world’s most iconic record labels having been home to countless legendary musicians including Luciano Pavarotti, Dame Vera Lynn and Bing Crosby. Today, Decca provides the platform for a new generation of ambitious artists at the forefront of their scenes – names such as Andrea Bocelli, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Melody Gardot, Max Richter, Aurora, Jacob Collier, Nicola Benedetti, Ludovico Einaudi and Isobel Waller-Bridge, who continue to represent the label’s cultural legacy. Discover more at: decca.com.