Mark McKenzie studied composition with renown classical composers Pierre Boulez, Witold Lutoslawski, and Morten Lauridsen among others. After becoming the first Composition graduate at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire and earning his Masters and Doctorate in music composition at the University of Southern California, Mark was honored as “The Outstanding USC Doctoral Music Graduate.” He was kept on by the USC faculty to teach Music Theory while pursuing his love of film music. McKenzie’s first opportunities were orchestrations for movie composers beginning with Academy Award nominated Bruce Broughton on the Steven Spielberg / Barry Levinson film ”Young Sherlock Holmes.” That soundtrack was nominated for a Grammy Award and Mark quickly became the behind the scenes “go to” orchestrator for elite Hollywood composers such as Academy Award winning Jerry Goldsmith, John Barry, Danny Elfman, Randy Edelman, Alan Silvestri, John Powell and others. McKenzie has also worked with pop artists Michael Jackson, Nile Rogers, and Sir Paul McCartney. His credits include blockbuster films such as the Academy Award Winning Dances With Wolves, Good Will Hunting, Men in Black, Nightmare Before Christmas, Spiderman 1 & 2, Mr and Mrs Smith, Star Trek VI,VII and IX, The Patriot, A Few Good Men, Ice Age, Sleepless in Seattle and the hit Bungi game Destiny. Legendary Academy Award winning composer Jerry Goldsmith, in addition to relying on McKenzie to orchestrate his final 7 projects, called upon Mark to compose for him when time constraints and health issues required it. One example is a piece called “Prison Uprising” composed for Goldsmith’s score to The Last Castle. It can be heard by clicking on The Last Castle Album cover. Goldsmith collaborated closely with Mark repeatedly saying: “Mark is my godsend.” Paul McCartney called McKenzie “Brilliant.” Director and actor LeVar Burton wrote: “Working with Mark was truly a highlight and one of the best experiences of my career.”
As a composer, Mark’s film music creates a psychologically intricate subtle inner life to enhance the multi dimensions of characters and heighten the experience of the story. Directors speak of Mark’s “unerring instincts to capture the film’s emotional core” and “imbue each scene with nuanced music to knit together and propel the story, character and emotions” using words to describe it such as: “beautiful,” “timeless,” “epic,” and “intensely human.“ Mark is one of the very few composers who both composes and orchestrates every note himself. His latest original score (Max and Me) is about Polish priest Maxamilian Kolbe who died in the Auschwitz concentration camp starvation bunker. It was recorded at Abbey Road Studios with concert violinist Joshua Bell, large orchestra, choir and the London boys choir Libera and will be released on the Sony Classical label in 2017.
Variety’s “Eye on the Oscars” states: “Mark McKenzie’s commanding orchestral prowess puts him among the foremost symphonists in Hollywood.“ The Los Angeles Times, The Hollywood Reporter, and numerous film music periodicals call his music “strikingly original…soul-stirring…majestic…spiritual…deeply profound…filled with unfathomable beauty and power…some of the most beautiful, lyrical, and emotionally resonant music ever written for film.”
Variety writes: “McKenzie is finally grabbing the limelight thanks to an obscure indie Mexican 3D animated spiritual film called The Greatest Miracle (El GRAN MILAGRO).” THE GREATEST MIRACLE won the Hollywood Music in Media Award’s “Best Indie Score of the year.” It was doubly nominated as “Best Score of the Year” and “Best Animated Movie Score of the Year” by the International Film Music Critics Association. THE GREATEST MIRACLE was described by Movie Music UK as “…some of the most beautiful lyrical, and emotionally resonant music ever written for film.” While the score did not get nominated for an Academy Award, Mark and the score were featured in Variety’s “Eye on the Oscars.” The Greatest Miracle was repeatedly on “Top Ten Scores of the Year” lists.
Mark’s original music has been heard in every corner of the globe. He composed the opening and closing theme music to the longest running and most honored television series in history “The Hallmark Hall of Fame.” His original scores such as THE GREATEST MIRACLE, THE ULTIMATE GIFT, BLIZZARD, SAVING SARAH CAIN, THE DISAPPEARANCE OF GARCIA LORCA, DR. JEKYLL AND MS. HYDE, FRANK AND JESSE, numerous Hallmark Hall of Fame films are all available on compact disc and via digital download and streaming through most major soundtrack outlets. Mark’s original music has been featured repeatedly on the Academy Awards, underscored the Olympics, performed before the Pope, heard at Disney World, California Adventures, Wimbledon and in countless other venues. His choral work “Gloria,” first premiered at the 2000th Crystal Cathedral Hour of Power broadcast has become a perennial Christmas favorite around the USA.
Mark McKenzie is a member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Oscars), The Television Academy (Emmy), The Society of Composers and Lyricists (SCL), the American Society of Music arrangers and composers (ASMAC) and the BMI performing rights organization.