Emmy Award-winning composer, WVU grad Jay Chattaway donates 'Star Trek' music collection to alma mater
For almost 20 years on Star Trek, the starship Enterprise soared through the galaxies to the musical motifs of composer Jay Chattaway, a graduate of West Virginia University’s College of Creative Arts.
Now, as part of a new enterprise, Chattaway has presented his entire “Star Trek” music collection to the WVU School of Music.
Plans are under way for the Emmy Award-winning composer to be a visiting artist at WVU, beginning next fall, and also to work with music students online, teaching them about the commercial music field and how to compose for film and television.
“Jay Chattaway is one of our most cherished graduates, and his work as one of America’s premier composers for film and television makes him a tremendous role model for our students,” said WVU President Jim Clements.
“I am deeply grateful for his extraordinary gift of his musical scores and materials, and I join the College of Creative Arts in our heartfelt thanks,” Clements said. “This gift will help our current and future music students learn the art of arranging and composing from one of the greatest in the field. We are just blown away by this unique and valuable gift.”
Chattaway’s gift includes materials related to the music he composed for Seasons 3-7 of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Seasons 1-6 of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Seasons 1-7 of Star Trek: Voyager and Seasons 1-4 of Star Trek: Enterprise.
During the run of these shows, 1987-2005, Star Trek was the only weekly series on television to use a full orchestra.
Fifteen boxes of Star Trek materials have already been delivered to WVU and are being catalogued and preserved at the West Virginia & Regional History Collection. They contain scripts and videos of the shows, timing notes, sketches of music, musical scores, and original songs and soundtrack CDs.
The songs include a Klingon aria from Season Six of Star Trek: The Next Generation and “San Antonio Lady” from Season Six of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
There is also the famous penny whistle solo from the episode titled “Inner Light” from Season Five of Star Trek: The Next Generation. This episode won a Hugo Award from the World Science Fiction Convention for most dramatic presentation. The “Inner Light” lullaby is one of the most requested musical selections in the entire Star Trek catalogue.
“There’s going to be more,” Chattaway said. “I have also composed the music for 30 motion pictures. I’m giving this gift to the School of Music because WVU is my alma mater, and the place where I learned my craft and where I was fortunate enough to study with great teachers.”
Born in the Pittsburgh suburb of Monongahela, Pa., Chattaway started composing music in junior high school and came to WVU on a music scholarship, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1968 and later with a master’s degree. He also studied at the Eastman School of Music. In addition to playing in the Mountaineer Marching Band, while at WVU, Chattaway joined with other School of Music students to create Abductors, a popular cover band.
“He was one of my real mentors at WVU back in the late 1960s,” Chattaway said. He encouraged us to study jazz at a time when there was not much jazz coursework at the Creative Arts Center. So I contacted him to congratulate him, and we talked about establishing some kind of educational program. He was really the spark for the whole thing.”
Chattaway studied piano at WVU, but majored in composition and music education. His other influences at WVU included Thomas Canning, who was composer-in-residence in the 1960s, and Bud Udell, who was director of bands.
“When I was at WVU, I had the opportunity to write for the Percussion Ensemble, which was directed by Phil Faini, and they actually played my music live,” Chattaway said. “That is a rare thing. At most schools, students write music and never have the chance to hear it played live. Maybe they hear it on a computer or something, but they are not able to stand up in front of an ensemble and listen to their music being performed.
“WVU is a place where this kind of thing happens.
“It’s not just about the notes,” he said, “but how you communicate as a writer and as a performer for an audience.”
Chattaway is now working with Dean Paul Kreider and the School of Music to develop ideas for the program, which will teach students how the commercial music industry works. Materials from Star Trek and other collections will be valuable teaching tools.
“The College of Creative Arts is indeed grateful to Jay for his incredible gift,” said Dean Kreider. “Additionally, we are also excited about Jay’s commitment to come teach students starting next year, further sharing his talents and his music.
“We are so appreciative when our alumni come back to benefit our students. That is what completes the cycle of education.”
Chattaway said there are many more possibilities for employment in the commercial music field now than when he started back in the 1970s.
“Back then, we didn’t have satellite TV or the video gaming industry,” he said. “Today there are hundreds of satellite TV stations and all kinds of video games and all of them require original music.
“Also, things will change dramatically in the next 10 years, as Apple and Google start doing their own original programming.”
Chattaway enjoys success today as an internationally acclaimed composer with more than 200 commissioned and published works, including 30 published jazz compositions. His work has garnered him four Grammy nominations for jazz and instrumental arranging and composing and four Gold Albums.
As head of Artists and Repertoire for CBS Records and later Columbia Records, he worked with artists such as Carly Simon, The Talking Heads, David Byrne, Bob James, Herb Alpert and Maynard Ferguson.
His arrangement of “The Theme from Rocky” (“Gonna Fly Now”) for Ferguson resulted in his first Grammy nomination and a Gold Album. For Ferguson’s album “Conquistador,” he also arranged a jazz version of Alexander Courage’s “Star Trek” Theme, which became a hit single.
In 1979, after forming Tappan Zee Records with colleague Bob James, he left the recording industry to score films, first in New York and then in Hollywood.
In 1989, he was asked to serve as guest composer for an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and in 1991 was hired as a regular composer for the series.
He received nine Emmy Award nominations, mostly for his work on the Star Trek series, but also for The Shark Chronicles (1990) and Thirty Years of National Geographic (1995). He won an Emmy Award for an episode of Star Trek: Voyager titled “Endgame,” Parts 1 and 2.
He has composed and arranged original music for advertising clients such as Coca-Cola, DuPont and California Fruits. His interest in world music and his love for the sea have also led him to compose musical scores for several National Geographic specials and Jacques Cousteau’s “Rediscovery of the World: Australia” and “Rediscovery of the World: Alaska.”
In spite of his demanding schedule, Chattaway still makes time to share his knowledge with young musicians. He has published more than 100 works for the educational market and has travelled around the world as a guest conductor.
Because of today’s new technology, he says, composers no longer have to be located in major metropolitan areas such as New York City or Hollywood to become successful.
“This can happen in West Virginia, or anywhere else in the world now,” he said. “The sky’s the limit.”
The Jay Chattaway gift was made in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University. The $750 million comprehensive campaign being conducted by the WVU Foundation on behalf of the University runs through December 2015.
CONTACT: Charlene Lattea, College of Creative Arts
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