Joel McNeely is a composer for the show The Orville, writing music for the episodes About a Girl, If the Stars Should Appear, Krill, Into the Fold, and Mad Idolatry.

Background Edit

Joel McNeely is a composer and conductor with over 30 years in the Film and Television industry. Joel comes from a musical family and pursued an education in Music Composition and Performance.  After attending the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, Joel received a Bachelor of Music from The University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL and a Master of Composition from The Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY.

Joel’s filmography includes 76 credits as composer, orchestrator, or conductor on such work as The Wonder Years, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Dark Angel, The Polar Express, Air Force One, A Million Ways to Die in the West, American Dad and The Orville. Joel has been nominated for multiple awards and has won a Primetime Grammy for his work on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, an ASCAP (American Society for Composers, Authors, and Publishers) Film and Television Award for Air Force One, and a IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Award) for The Orville.

As a conductor he worked with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and Seattle Symphony Orchestra.

When Seth MacFarland was approached by Republic Records to do an album he asked Joel McNeely, whom he had worked with on American Dad, if he would like to work with him to produce an album of songs from the Great American Songbook, specifically the music of the 50’s and 60’s that encompassed Orchestral Jazz in the style of Frank Sinatra, Cole Porter and Billy Mays. Music is Better than Words was released in 2011. That album was nominated for a Grammy and Joel went on to work with Seth on his next three albums.  Holiday for Swing a collection of Christmas/Seasonal recordings and two more Orchestral Jazz albums, No One Ever Tells You (2015) and In Full Swing (2017) which were both nominated for Grammys. 

Joel continues to work on American Dad and is currently in pre-production as assistant orchestrator for John Williams on Star Wars Episode IX.  

McNeely frequently collaborated with Seth MacFarlane on film and television projects, including the movie A Million Ways to Die in the West and the studio album In Full Swing.

The Orville Edit

McNeely announced he was hired as a composer for the show in April, 2017, on his website.[1] MacFarlane hyped the upcoming show on Twitter by highlighting McNeely's work: "Joel McNeely, [fellow composer] Bruce Broughton, and a 75-piece orchestra-- @TheOrville is gonna sound pretty good".[2]

In an interview with Variety, McNeely commented: "Seth wants each show to be its own individual story, to think of it as scoring completely different movies from week to week."[3] He added in a second interview with Variety that "[t]he score never references the comedy; Seth wants it always to be played straight."[4]

Composing The Orville Edit

McNeely was given scripts of his episodes, but he later said that he paid little attention to them, preferring instead to examine its artwork for inspiration. A rough, temporary film of each episode was used as a framework to compose around.[5]

McNeely felt challenged by The Orville, composing a unique "palette" for each episode, which meant that he started an entirely new score for each one to find its "voice." "Last night I worked eight hours and wrote 12 bars," he told MacFarlane one night during Season 2.[5]

Each episode's score takes roughly three weeks to compose although an undisclosed Season 2 episode took five.[5]

Awards Edit

In 2018, McNeely, Broughton, John Debney, and Andrew Cottee collectively won Best Original Score for Television from the International Film Music Critics Association Awards for their music for Season 1 of The Orville.[6][7]

Interviews Edit

References Edit

  1. News. April, 2017. Last accessed April 4, 2018.
  2. @SethMacFarlane. "Joel McNeely, Bruce Broughton, and a 75-piece orchestra-- @TheOrville is gonna sound pretty good". Twitter. July 1, 2017.
  3. Burlingame, Jon. "Seth MacFarlane’s ‘The Orville’ Gets Movie-Style Scoring From Emmy-Winning Composers". Variety. Sept. 7, 2017.
  4. Burllingame, John. "Emmys 2018: The Orchestral Arms Race of TV’s Sci-Fi". Variety. June 4, 2018.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "The Orville Fan Podcast w/ Joel McNeely (27)". Planetary Union Network. Jan. 20, 2019.
  6. "IFMCA Award Nominations 2017". IFMCA. Feb. 8, 2018.
  7. "IFMCA Award Winners 2017". IFMCA. Feb. 22, 2018.
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