In the sleepy port town of Bellingham, Washington, sixteen-year-old aspiring composer Bear McCreary imagined and wrote his own films, just so he could score them. A chance encounter led him to film music legend Elmer Bernstein, who moored his boat in Bellingham harbor. The maestro recognized a passion for musical storytelling in the ambitious high school student, and encouraged him to study composition at the USC School of Music in Los Angeles, where he took him on as a protégé. Two decades later, McCreary has validated Berstein’s instincts, having proven himself one of the most versatile and in-demand composers in the industry.
McCreary recently collaborated closely with producer J.J. Abrams, scoring the Paramount Pictures and Bad Robot hit film 10 Cloverfield Lane. Time Magazine raved “The movie’s finest feature may be Bear McCreary’s playfully malicious score, a beehive of worried-sounding strings that channels the spirit of Hitchcock fave Bernard Herrmann.” USA Today praised the “fantastic wordless opening set to Bear McCreary’s roiling, glorious score.” McCreary’s incorporation of Blaster Beam, yialli tanbur and other exotic instruments into the gripping thriller drew upon his experience from his first job: scoring the influential and revered Battlestar Galactica. His music for that series was lauded by Variety as “innovative,” “like no other” by NPR, and earned him a coveted spot on Io9.com’s “Ten Best Science Fiction Composers of All Time.” From there, he quickly became one of the medium’s most sought-after talents. He currently scores AMC’s record-shattering global phenomenon The Walking Dead, as well as Joss Whedon and ABC’s hit series Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..
In recent years, McCreary has become increasingly recognized for his musical innovation. He won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Main Title Theme for his theme to David S. Goyer’s epic historical fantasy Da Vinci’s Demons. The theme itself a carefully-constructed palindrome (it sounds the same forwards and backwards), evokes musical homage to Da Vinci’s own writings. McCreary also received Emmy nominations for his work on the pirate drama Black Sails, from executive producer Michael Bay, Outlander, Ronald D. Moore’s smash-hit adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s acclaimed novels and Human Target. He has twice been awarded “ASCAP Composer of the Year – Television” by his peers.
Some of McCreary’s other film credits include Focus Features’ The Forest, Lakeshore Entertainment’s The Boy, Europa Report, and Disney’s worldwide hit Step Up 3D. His videogame credits include Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Syndicate: Jack the Ripper, Sony Playstation’s SOCOM 4: U.S. NAVY SEALs, and the groundbreaking television / videogame hybrid Defiance.
Never content to work only in a darkened studio, McCreary has always enjoyed performing in concert. He has conducted performances of his music throughout North America and Europe, appearing at Fimucité in Tenerife, and the International Film Music Festival in Úbeda, Spain. He has composed concert commissions for the Calder Quartet and Getty Center, the Hagen Philharmonic and Ballet in Germany, the Television Academy, and the Golden State Pops Orchestra. In July 2014, Maestro Gustavo Dudamel conducted a suite of McCreary’s music with the L.A. Philharmonic and L.A. Master Chorale at the Hollywood Bowl.
In quiet moments (few and far between), McCreary often wonders what his longtime friend and mentor Elmer Bernstein would say about his career. Sadly, he will never know. The iconic Bernstein passed away on the very day that McCreary began composing his original score for his first television series, Battlestar Galactica. McCreary says he will always look back with gratitude to the day when he first crossed paths with Bernstein. “Elmer’s guidance was a gift I can never repay,” McCreary said. “But I will spend my life trying to do so.”