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Blake Neely (PHS Class of ’87) began playing the piano at age four and by high school he was playing rock and roll (and new wave) in garage bands. In all likelihood, Blake will never be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but with Blake you can’t rule that out either. Instead, at the University of Texas Blake sought to impress the world with his piano playing. Even though the music panel did not accept him into the school of music, he still impacted thousands of lives by teaching others to play piano when he wrote “Piano for Dummies”
Growing up, Blake played the guitar, drums, keyboard and French. His ever expanding repertoire of instrument led to his even more popular and acclaimed series of books called “FastTrack Music Instruction” which included books on how to play the guitar, drums, bass guitar and harmonica to name a few. With 25 books published in multiple different languages, Blake has essentially taught people all over the world how to play musical instruments.
While sharing his knowledge was great (and profitable), Blake became much more interested in orchestrating and composing. In 1996 he began orchestrating music for his mentor and friend, the late Michael Kamen who was an Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe winner. Kamen’s legendary musical scores include Mr. Holland’s Opus, Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and 101 Dalmations just to name a few. The guidance lead to composer Vangelis hiring Blake in 2000 to orchestrate and conduct a huge piece called “Mythodea” that culminated in an enormous PBS Special concert at the Temple of Zues in Athens, Greece.
Click Below to Watch Blake Conducting Mythodea
From that moment on, Blake hit his stride working regularly with Hans Zimmer (of Pirates of the Caribbean, Lion King, the Dark Knight fame), composing film scores and even received an Emmy nomination for this the to television show “Everwood”.
“I’ve written music for the Queen of England, for the opening games of the Winter Olympics, and even for a shuttle to Mars. My work has taken me to some fantastic places around the world, including England, France, Greece, Korea, Japan, Russia and New Zealand. I’ve scored pirates, knights, presidents, astronauts, a giant ape, Samurai warriors, doctors, lawyers, nuns, superheroes, a mentalist and a mortician. I’ve even gotten Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson and Forest Whitaker to conduct with me. And once I conducted in front of a TV audience of one billion people (the 2002 FIFA World Cup Final Draw).” Blake writes.
Blake at work
With dozens of film and TV projects under his belt Blake, continues to make us proud of his accomplishments. Read more about Blake:
Thank you to Dan Glasserman at ScoringSessions.com. Check out his website to see more on Blake and other conductors/composers