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U of T alumnus wins Golden Globe award

Composer Mychael Danna wins for Life of Pi score

Mychael Danna's score for Life of Pi earned the composer a Golden Globe award Jan. 13 - one of three nominations for the film. (Photo via Life of Pi Movie Flickr.)

Composer and University of Toronto alumnus Mychael Danna picked up a Golden Globe award January 13 for best film score for the movie Life of Pi.

"I felt very blessed even before this —and I speak for the whole cast and crew— to be part of the whole Life of Pi experience," said Danna, in accepting the award. "I want to share this award with my director, Ang Lee."

Danna thanked his parents for giving him "the gift of music" and said he wanted to give a shout-out to his friends and "music crew" back in Toronto as well as his kids back in Toronto. He also thanked his wife, "in a room full of starlets, the most beautiful woman here".

Danna earned his Bachelor of Music degree in composition at the University of Toronto in 1986, where he won the first-ever Glenn Gould Composition Award and was exposed to the early music and world music techniques that would later influence his sound. Working with theatre groups on campus as a way to explore different compositional venues, Danna met and began to work with acclaimed film director and U of T alumnus Atom Egoyan.

"Since connecting with Mychael at U of T so many years ago, our collaboration has been essential to my work," said Egoyan. "Mychael is a brilliant musician and composer who is able to enhance any project he works on. He fully commits himself to every film, and his brilliant score for Life of Pi is an expression of everything that makes him so unique."

Danna went on to score Egoyan's films including Exotica, The Sweet Hereafter, Ararat and Chloe. Other acclaimed directors he's worked with include Terry Gilliam, Mira Nair, Joel Schumacher and Denzel Washington. He recently composed for films such as Moneyball, 500 Days of Summer, and The Time Traveler's Wife. Danna also previously scored for Ang Lee with The Ice Storm in 1997 and Ride with the Devil in 1999.

Returning to U of T in 2011 as the inaugural Louis Applebaum Distinguished Visitor in Film Composition, Danna coached composition students and gave a public lecture with Egoyan. During that time he was already working on the score for Life of Pi, released in the fall of 2012.

Composer and U of T professor, Christos Hatzis, worked with Danna during the Applebaum program and offered words of congratulations in a letter to the Golden Globe winner:

"I was glued on my TV set last night and thrilled to hear your name announced as the winner of the Golden Globe and to see you on stage accepting the award," wrote Hatzis. "Your beautiful and evocative music turns this masterful film into a magical experience. I feel very fortunate to have hosted you during your Louis Applebaum visit at U of T and will be keeping my fingers crossed for the Oscars. We are all very proud of you here at your Alma Mater."

Life of Pi, which tells the story of a young boy shipwrecked on the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger,  is based on the novel of the same name by Canadian author Yann Martel. Selections from Danna's score for the film can be found here.

Danna is also nominated for two Academy Awards for his work on Life of Pi. He is up for best score along with composers: Alexandre Desplat (Argo); Dario Marianelli (Anna Karenina); John Williams (Lincoln); Thomas Newman (Skyfall). With colleague Bombay Jayashri (lyric) Danna is also nominated for best original song (music) for Pi's Lullaby. They face competition from Suddenly (Les Misérables); Skyfall (Skyfall); Everybody Needs A Best Friend (Ted) and Before My Time (Chasing Ice).

The winners of the Academy Awards will be announced Feb. 24, 2012.