Film Fest Gent presents James Horner Tribute Concert

James Horner header
News 27 Mar 2024
On 17 October 2024, Film Fest Gent will pay tribute to the legendary American composer James Horner with a unique night filled with his iconic scores. A selection of his work will be curated with the assistance of Simon Franglen. The World Soundtrack Award for Discovery of the Year 2023 recipient was an integral part of Horner's team on the scores for among others Titanic and Avatar. Maestro Dirk Brossé will lead the Brussels Philharmonic in this musical celebration. “James Horner was one of the icons of film music, a man who created some of the most memorable and emotional scores we have ever heard.”

Film Fest Gent and live music go hand in hand. To celebrate this special relationship the festival organises the yearly World Soundtrack Awards Ceremony & Concert and the WSA Film Music Days, where industry professionals and passionate audiences unite to celebrate the best of film music. Each year, a thematic concert is held to pay homage to a composer, a country or a genre.

This year's concert revolves around the work of legendary composer James Horner, whose scores were featured in some of the biggest blockbusters of the last four decades. His legacy includes two of the top box office films of all time - Titanic (1997) and Avatar (2009), and some many other iconic scores such as Apollo 13 (1995), Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan (1982), Legends of The Fall (1994), Aliens (1986), A Beautiful Mind (2001) and many concert works. James Horner’s wife, Sara, is hoping to be in attendance.

James Horner

Born in L.A. in 1953, James Horner grew up to become one of Hollywood’s most renowned composers. The score album of Titanic, a monument in film history, remains one of the highest-grossing instrumental soundtrack albums of all time. Leaving an immense musical legacy, he served as a composer on three Oscar Winners for Best Film (Braveheart, 1995; Titanic and A Beautiful Mind) and won two Academy Awards for his work on James Cameron’s 1997 epic film.

In his youth, Horner was surrounded by classical music, and he started playing the piano at the age of five. At only ten years old, inspired by a performance of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony, he decided to become a composer. Horner moved to London to study at the Royal College of Music before transferring to the Hamburg University of Music and Theatre, where he found a mentor in the Hungarian-Austrian composer György Ligeti. With Ligeti, Horner studied Renaissance music, which would greatly influence his later work. Returning to California in the 1970s, James Horner obtained a graduate degree in Music and a PhD in Music Theory and Composition at UCLA. During his college years, James Horner composed several concert pieces (Conversations, Spectral Shimmers).

His pivot to film music happened by chance. In 1978, James Horner was offered the opportunity to write music for student films at the American Film Institute (AFI). Witnessing his music come to life on the big screen made him fall in love with the medium. His fascination with the narrative potential of music finally found its perfect match in the world of film. His (commercial) breakthrough came a few years later when he composed the soundtrack for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan in 1982.

In the subsequent years, James Horner composed soundtracks for the films of Ron Howard (Cocoon, 1985; Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind), James Cameron (Aliens, Titanic, Avatar), Jean-Jacques Annaud (The Name of the Rose, 1986; Enemy at the Gates, 2001; Black Gold, 2011; Wolf Totem, 2015) and Martin Campbell (The Mask of Zorro, 1998; The Legend of Zorro, 2005; Beyond Borders, 2003). In 1997, Horner was awarded two Academy Awards (for Best Original Score and Best Original Song) for his work on Titanic and its accompanying song “My Heart Will Go On.” Additionally, he won three Grammy Awards for this work, bringing his total wins to six (and fourteen nominations). The IFMCA nominated him for Film Composer of the Year four times, among other nominations for his work. In 2002, James Horner was nominated for Soundtrack Composer of the Year at the WSA for his score for A Beautiful Mind. He was nominated three more times at the WSA for his compositions for Troy and Avatar in 2004 and 2010, respectively.

Simon Franglen vierkant
“James Horner was one of the icons of film music, a man who created some of the most memorable and emotional scores we have ever heard. I’m very much looking forward to this wonderful concert to celebrate my friend's work.”
Simon Franglen

Practical Info

On 17 October 2024 the Brussels Philharmonic and Maestro Dirk Brossé will pay tribute to this unforgettable composer at the James Horner Tribute Concert in Muziekcentrum De Bijloke, where a selection of his scores will be performed. Longtime colleague and friend of James Horner, Simon Franglen, will be in attendance. Franglen assisted on several of Horner’s scores, including Titanic, Avatar, The Karate Kid (2010) and The Amazing Spider-Man (2012). Following the passing of James Horner in 2015, Simon Franglen completed his score for The Magnificent Seven (2016). Succeeding his mentor and friend as composer for the Avatar franchise, Simon Franglen composed the score for Avatar: The Way of Water (2022), for which he won the WSA Discovery of the Year Award 2023. Franglen will return to the WSA Ceremony & Concert on 16 October, where a suite from his “Way of Water” score will be performed.