concert to feature original composition by UW-Eau Claire alumnus Mark
1979, Mark McKenzie was UW-Eau Claire's first music theory and
composition graduate. Apparently, not even 17 years of success as
a Hollywood composer and orchestrator have clouded his memories of
where it all began.
On Sunday, Dec. 8, those who attend
UW-Eau Claire's 28th annual Holiday Concerts will hear the debut
performance of "Blizzard Christmas Suite," which McKenzie
derived from the score he has composed for the movie "Blizzard,"
to be released in November 2003. McKenzie, who lives in San Pedro,
Calif., finished composing and recording the score just weeks ago.
He created "Blizzard Christmas Suite" as a gift to the
"My intention was to make a beautiful,
warm, melodic celebration of life and Christmas," McKenzie said
of the suite, which will be performed by the UW-Eau Claire Symphony
Orchestra and Women's Concert Chorale.
"The performance of ‘Blizzard
Christmas Suite' at the 2002 Holiday Concert will be the premiere
performance in a new and unique tradition of commissioned works for
the music ensembles at UW-Eau Claire," said Gary Schwartzhoff,
associate professor of music and theatre arts and Holiday Concert
"Blizzard," a G-rated Christmas
movie, is directed by Le Var Burton and includes Whoopi Goldberg,
Christopher Plummer and Kevin Pollak among its cast members. While
the film's original release date of November 2002 has been pushed
back a year, McKenzie suggests it will be worth the wait for moviegoers
of all ages.
"It is a beautiful and timeless
family Christmas movie that one could take any child to with pride
and confidence that they will both enjoy it and have their lives enhanced
by the story," McKenzie said.
In addition to his gift of "Blizzard
Christmas Suite," McKenzie and his wife, Susan, a 1978 UW-Eau
Claire music therapy graduate, have given a financial gift to the
UW-Eau Claire Foundation to establish the Baker, Cunningham and Lunde
Music Composition Fund. The fund will be used by music faculty to
commission original compositions for performance by UW-Eau Claire
The McKenzies' gifts are contributions
to UW-Eau Claire's Fulfilling the Promise of Excellence
campaign, part of the university's effort to progress toward
its long-term goals in spite of fiscal challenges resulting from the
state budget crisis. The campaign seeks $35 million in private support
by July 2005 for UW-Eau Claire's people and programs.
"The generous gift presented to
the Foundation by Mark and Susan McKenzie will serve to enrich the
education of the music students at UW-Eau Claire for generations to
come," Schwartzhoff said.
McKenzie said he hopes the music composition
fund will provide inspiration for young composers, "causing
new music to be written and enjoyed that might not otherwise exist."
The fund is named in honor of three
UW-Eau Claire music and theatre arts professors, David Baker, Michael
Cunningham and Ivar Lunde — all of whom taught music composition
"I feel grateful for many of my
UW-Eau Claire professors and particularly for these three fine composers,"
McKenzie said. "I studied music composition with each of them,
and each made valuable contributions into who I've grown to
become as an orchestrator and composer."
Over 17 years, McKenzie has had orchestration
credits in more than 75 films and composition credits in 12 films.
Last summer he achieved a personal record when he had credits in four
films during one season. Those films, for which he had orchestration
credits, included "Spider-Man," "The Sum of All
Fears," "Lilo and Stitch" and "Stuart Little
Samples of McKenzie's music can be heard
on his Web site, www.markmckenzie.org.
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In Brief Calendar
of Events Faculty/Staff News
Liz Wolf Green, Editor
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
· Diane Walkoff,
Editorial Assistant ·
May 23, 2003