"Milk Teeth" Soundtrack Released!
The score to Felipe Vargas’ fantastical drama-horror short film, “Milk Teeth” has been released as a soundtrack album on all digital streaming platforms.
The music utilizes both soft and sentimental melodies and wildly intense textures, all held together by a simple theme for the film’s young hero and his counterpart, a devilish, cajoling monster. The score is highlighted by a few of USC’s most talented musicians, recorded at the legendary John Williams Scoring stage.
Off to the Fair!
Several months ago, Maffe teamed up with talented director, Logan Dellinger (Moose: The Movie (2015), Sudsy Slim Rides Again (2018)) to score a promotional ad for the Alaska State Fair. The music is written in a classic adventure style with a grand melody, accompanying the exciting visuals of a family's escapades at the fair.
The Western Fairs Association in Reno, Nevada has awarded them with both the first and second place recognition of excellence award in a television advertising series.
The Master's Screen
The first semester of Maffe’s USC Master’s studies yielded nearly an hour of diverse new music. A selection of these pieces, including both live recordings and meticulous ‘mockups’ has been made available exclusively on this website.
“USC’s program has allowed me to hone my voice in the traditional symphony orchestra, and has also pushed me to expand my sonic palate in electronics all while working under tight deadlines and thorough criticisms from professors,” Maffe says, “It’s an ideal situation for a composer, and a privilege that might not be as readily available outside of an academic setting. To be here, I feel very blessed.”
"Milk Teeth" Premieres to an Audience of 400
Felipe Vargas’ newest short film, “Milk Teeth,” premiered alongside three other student films today at the Norris Cinema Theater to an audience of around 400.
The vision of Milk Teeth was an interesting genre crossover which saw period drama and fantastical horror collide in what may be best described as a modern Brothers Grimm fairytale.
Maffe says, “I am indebted to the inspired directing of Felipe Vargas, who allowed me to bring my musical voice to his beautiful film.”
Jerry Goldsmith (1929-2004) was indisputably one of the greatest forces of film music in the 20th century. He was known for his ingenuity in modern symphonic writing as well as the integration of state of the art technology and electronics in his music.
Following in his footsteps, Sterling Maffe has composed a piece of music that takes advantage of hybrid scoring techniques (mixing recordings of live musicians with sampled instruments). This homage to maestro Goldsmith features a 16-piece ensemble and woodwind quintet recorded at East West Studios and Capitol Records, respectively, and is a lovely musical visit to one of Maffe’s favorite genres, science fiction.
"Nightlight" Released Online
A new short film, two minutes to be exact has just been released on Audience Awards. It was created by Kianna Bliven (Sunsprite, Mort.) with her usual partner in crime, Townsend Dick, and is about a young girl with a physical injury who loves past appearances and makes an unlikely friend.
The film has been entered into the She Directed Filmmaker Contest and is vying for votes from its viewers in pursuit of a $10,000 prize.
The music is subtle, but has the same warm, spirited feel that Maffe is known for.
Silvestri's Seal of Approval
According to tradition of the USC Screen Scoring program at Thornton School of music, a committee of faculty (SCOR) rates the candidates upon their acceptance into the Masters program. This year Sterling Maffe has been selected highest-rated of over 150 aspiring composers. Because of this, film scoring giant Alan Silvestri (Avengers, Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, etc.) and his wife Sandra have generously gifted Maffe a partial scholarship to attend the program.
"Mr. Silvestri is one of my greatest influences," Maffe says, "and it is such an honor to have his support as I follow in his footsteps toward a career in film scoring."
Alan Silvestri adds his approval on a recent social media post, "Congratulations, Sterling. You're on your way!!"
"Four Elements" Released
Following last week's release of the soundtrack of original music to Sunsprite (2019), Maffe has put out another album, this one in the classical tradition and written for solo piano.
A programmatic suite illustrating the four elements, The Four Elements is a 30-minute composition consisting of four movements. Each movement characteristically describes its respective element: In I. Air, there is much floating and soft, sweet melodies; II. Water takes a minimalist approach, similar to the simple, always-moving nature of water; III. Fire is chaotic and unpredictable but still retains a certain charm; and Earth is a portrayal of nature in all its mystery and grandeur in surprisingly simple musical terms. 'Elements' will no doubt conjure images of beauty, sophistication, and sometimes unrest.
Sunsprite Soundtrack Released
The soundtrack of original score to Townsend Dick's Sunsprite (2019) has been released on all digital streaming and downloading platforms. It features about 30 minutes of symphonic orchestra music that is warm and familial, reminiscent of the Spielberg/Williams collaborations of the 80s. It is a welcome diversion of Maffe's usual bombastic and sometimes verbose writing style and is just as enduring as the film it accompanies.
Film plot summary: After finding and old radio in his grandfather's shop, Alder begins receiving mysterious coded messages. With the help of his childhood friend, Lacey and Grandpa Art - he embarks on a quest to make a stranger's last wish a reality.
Biola's 2019 Outstanding Musician Award to Maffe
Maffe's career at Biola is given the capstone of 2019 Outstanding Musician Award in the Composition Department. This award is given to the student of highest merit for his or her endeavors as a composer of the 2018-2019 school year both in academia and extracurricularly.
Maffe also won the award in 2018.
"Patchwork Grey" and The Artisan Crowned Best of Biola
For the second year in a row, Maffe takes home both first and second place in the annual Biola Composition Competition. "Patchwork Grey," a solo harp piece performed by Gretchen Sheetz won first place. It is characterized by its colorful chromaticism despite the practical limitations of the instrument's pedals (listen here). Second place was claimed by
The Artisan, Maffe's epic musical self portrait which illustrates the dichotomy of commercialism and pursuit of artistry in the life of a composer (watch the performance here).
This anonymous competition was judged this year by Steven Hartke (2013 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition), widely recognized as one of the leading composers of his generation, whose work has been hailed for both its singularity of voice and the inclusive breadth of its inspiration.
New Film Premieres from the Makers of Mort. (2017)
A new film (titled Sunsprite) premiered from the makers of the award-winning short, Mort. on April 6. Sunsprite features the same charming storytelling of Kianna Bliven and the stunning visuals of Townsend Dick. The film was well received and featured a lively Q&A after with the cast and crew of the film.
The movie stars Danny Izzary (Alder), Breanna Raquel (Lacey Watts), and Donald Pitts (Grandpa Art) and had production design by Ashley Popiwchak.
Music was composed by Sterling Maffe.
Maffe Accepted into World's Number One Film Music School
The Screen Scoring Masters degree program (formerly a certificate) at USC's Thornton School of Music has long been considered the best program for film music in the world. It has also long been Maffe's desired post-graduate destination. He applied in November of 2018 and was just notified of his acceptance.
"It's quite and honor. I feel very blessed to be given this opportunity. It's been a goal of mine to attend this program for nearly a decade, and so to see it coming to fruition is exciting and even a bit surreal," the composer says.
World Premiere of "Fanfare for the Vanguard" a Success
In celebration of the fifth anniversary of the Southern California Brass Consortium, Maffe was commissioned to write the opening for a concert which featured some highlights of the band's performances from over the years.
On February 16, "Fanfare for the Vanguard" was premiered. The piece features feverish trumpet rhythms, soaring melodies, and a grand finale fitting of the momentous occasion.
Some other composers featured on and present at the concert: Rossano Galante, Craig Safan, and Costas Dafnis.
Undoubtedly, more collaborations between Maffe and the SCBC are on the horizon.