When Jay Chattaway left West Virginia University in 1968, he spent seven years in the U.S. Navy Band in Washington, D.C., diverting him from the path he thought he wanted – a professorship at his alma mater. That diversion took him on a journey he couldn’t have predicted and opened a road from Morgantown to Hollywood, where he earned a Grammy for producing and an Emmy for composing.
Chattaway, a trumpet player who majored in music composition and music education, returns to Morgantown this weekend for the first time since graduation to conduct the WVU Marching Band as it performs his original work Jubilee 150, written in honor of the University’s 150th birthday for WVU’s Homecoming.
He predicts the tune will be a crowd-pleaser. “It’s melodic and loud,” he said. “It’s going to sound great.”
Coming at the beginning of the Homecoming half-time show, it will be the first public performance of the composition.
“We are excited to have Jay Chattaway back in Morgantown and to share the field with him at halftime on Saturday” said Scott Tobias, WVU director of bands. “The Pride of West Virginia is honored to be premiering his new work, Jubilee 150, written in honor of WVU’s 150th anniversary.”
After his assignment as chief music arranger and composer with the Navy Band, his Hollywood career began with CBS Records, where he earned four gold records and a Grammy for producing Maynard Ferguson’s “Rocky.”
He’s also produced music for 35 feature films, including “Missing in Action” and “Silver Bullet.”
But it is the “Star Trek” television shows that have been the foundation of his successful career. He’s composed and conducted the music for “The Next Generation,” “Deep Space Nine,” “Voyager” and “Enterprise.”
“I wrote ‘space music’ for 18 years,” he said. “Voyager,” one of 10 nominations, produced the Emmy win.
For the cultural phenomenon’s 50th anniversary, Chattaway conducted the premier performance of music for the “Ultimate Voyage” with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in Royal Albert Hall in London.
His WVU time was a good one, he said, and the smaller class sizes allowed students to not only write compositions, but have them performed. Chattaway offered that kind of practical music experience to WVU students when he donated the scores of his “Star Trek” compositions to the WVU Libraries. Composition students are able to not only read the scores, but to see the music performed as the score goes by onscreen, taking the experience from the ethereal to the concrete.
For all the experience in the music industry, Chattaway admits to being a little nervous about this particular performance.
It’s not “coming home,” it’s not the music. It’s the brisk 220-beat-per-minute march through the tunnel and the climb up the ladder to his post as conductor that’s giving him pause. To get ready for the march, he’s been working out and running.
Chattaway spent three days this week at the College of Creative Arts teaching several classes, including a master’s class, and he practiced with the band Thursday afternoon.