Centenary alumnus composes new film soundtrack

SHREVEPORT, LA — Centenary alumnus and Shreveport native James Eakin '00 will return home for the August 4 world premiere of the movie Cut to the Chase, for which he wrote the soundtrack. Eakin lives in California and composes full time for film, television, and the concert hall. The Cut to the Chase score is his seventh music-to-picture project.

"The process for film scoring is quite different than the music I compose for the concert hall," explains Eakin. "In the concert hall, I'm generally given full artistic freedom within the confines of time or the theme of the concert. For film, after I’ve read the script, I sit down with the director and discuss my initial thoughts on the musical style. Once we are on the same page, we 'spot' the film, deciding where music needs to enter and exit in a given scene – this is the biggest difference between composing for film and composing for the concert hall."

Cut to the Chase is a southern noir thriller following a petty criminal as he searches for his missing sister through the criminal underworld of Louisiana. The film, starring Blayne Weaver, Lyndie Greenwood, Erin Cahill, Patrick Day, and Lance Henriksen, premieres on August 4 at 7:00 p.m. at the Strand Theatre in Shreveport. On July 19, Eakin's soundtrack album for the film was ranked #16 on iTunes Soundtracks.

Eakin credits the music education he received at Centenary's Hurley School of Music with giving him knowledge and skills that he still uses on a daily basis as he composes, including a strong background in music history that is invaluable when working in film.

"When I take on a film project, my research begins with the script," says Eakin. "Where is the film set? Is there a type of music associated with the film’s location? Is the film a period piece? Does it take place in 1780 or the 1980s? There are even times when a director might want to juxtapose modern music on a film set in ancient times. Whatever the answers to the questions are, having a thorough knowledge of music history is a must."

After graduating from Centenary with a bachelor of music in composition, Eakin received his M.M. in composition from Southern Methodist University and a DMA in composition from the Conservatory of Music, University of Missouri-Kansas City. He studied with John Corigliano, Jeff Rona, and Michael Czajkowski at the Aspen Center for Composition Studies and was director of the Film Scoring Program at the Aspen Music Festival & School in 2008. Eakin also acted as the Electronic Music Studio coordinator at Aspen from 2004-2007.

Eakin has taught Choral Arranging and Composition at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and was composer-in-residence for several prestigious groups, including Resounding Harmony and the Turtle Creek Chorale. He is currently composer-in-residence for the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. His awards include a nomination for "King of False Alarms" as the best folk/acoustic song at the Hollywood Music in Media Awards in 2014 and numerous American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Standards Awards. Eakin was also a Barr Institute Fellow at the Conservatory Of Music, University Of Missouri-Kansas City.

Eakin has maintained his connections with Shreveport and Centenary as his career has grown. The Centenary College Choir premiered Eakin’s work Flowers over the Graves of War on February 12, 2012, in Shreveport. The Choir then continued on to New York to perform in the premiere of Flowers at Carnegie Hall on February 20, 2012. The Shreveport Symphony has commissioned Eakin to write his first symphony, which will premiere in Shreveport next year.

Tickets for the Cut to the Chase premiere are available now at thestrandtheatre.com. The soundtrack is available on iTunes and on Amazon as well as on Spotify and Google Play. You can learn more about Eakin at jameseakin.com.