November 1999 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

Edmund CHOI Wide Awake   Composed and Conducted by Edmund Choi  PROMOTIONAL ECCD-01 [42:14]

About Promotional CDs

This promotional disc features Edmund Choi's debut studio score to the 1998 family film "Wide Awake," about a Catholic schoolboy in search of life's meaning. The music matches the finest relations to the genre by the likes of Alan Silvestri, Bruce Broughton, and Lee Holdridge.

I say that as one who firmly believes that comedies are difficult to score. Music is not intrinsically funny, so bringing humor up front by way of a full symphony orchestra 'playing it straight' is a fair accomplishment. Dramatic comedies are a greater worry, creating the need for a juggling act between laughs and tears; bad timing can ruin the whole shebang. And children's dramatic comedies are possibly the ultimate composing challenge, for little ears are receptive to anything that rings falsely, and the music must never condescend. Thus Choi achieves what some top film composers never have: filmusic that is light, fun, youthful, yet complex enough to hold the interest of weary adults.

The thematic elements possess a freedom from artificiality, containing broad melodic contours, and buoyant passages. The disc features some solid choral music for The American Boychoir (singing ably, though the enunciation gargles from time to time!), and the soundtrack's themes are extremely sweet. So, one of my peers at another site says the music is obvious. While that may be true, accessibility is always an unwanted creative habit. If 'The Bucket Chase' (the album's clumsiest track) and its explicit nod to "Mission: Impossible" can work, the rest of the score surely does.

I will agree that Mr. Choi could better exploit his dramatic knack. Although well written and entertaining, the music lacks the maturity and intricacies of those for other contemporary family films scored by John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Patrick Doyle, Danny Elfman, etc. The large sections of musical naiveté are undoubtedly intentional, but the orchestrations barely avoid making them sound prosaic.

I imagine that many years from now a tough filmusic buff may look at his soundtrack collection and see this disc alongside dozens of other scores by Edmund Choi, the music possibly ripening in technique as time goes by. Everything good about "Wide Awake" sets the right groundwork for it to happen, and if (or when) that happens, what an achievement it will be.


Jeffrey Wheeler

Ian Lace is more enthusiastic:

This is a thoroughly entertaining score and quite an accomplishment. Yes it is derivative. Yes one can detect Bond, Flint and the Mission Impossible material in ‘The Bucket Chase’ and John Williams’s Stanley and Iris and Empire of the Sun in much of this score. So what, there are so many good things here. The boy choir might not be perfect but they sing with spirit and Choy’s settings of the Gloria and Hosanna are appealing enough. Choy’s score for Wide Awake is so tuneful, so brightly and imaginatively orchestrated and heart-warming in its soaring melodies that criticism is disarmed.


Ian Lace

We were recently sent a number of PROMOTIONAL soundtrack music CDs to review:-

Promotional Albums offer lesser celebrated film composers the opportunity to bring their work (often of good quality but unsung [if you will forgive the pun]) to the attention of prospective producers who might be interested in contracting them for film scoring assignments. Another market opportunity is for short films, trailers, commercials, and other theatre and TV projects where producers with limited budgets might be interested in buying material "off the shelf." Lastly, film music buffs who have admired the scores but hitherto have never had an opportunity of acquiring the music now have an opportunity of buying scores they have admired. For instance anybody who liked Hummie Mann's music for Mel Brook's farce, Dracula, Dead and Loving It (with Leslie Nielsen) can now buy it from specialist sellers such as

P.O. Box 500
Linden, VA 22642-0500
PH: (540) 635-2575
FAX: (540) 635-8554

Specializes in soundtracks, and carries some of those scores you just won't find anywhere else.


12072 Brookhurst Street
Fountain Valley, CA 92840-2815
Voice: (714) 636-8700
Toll free: (800) 997-2434
Fax: (714) 636-8585


Jeffrey Wheeler

Ian Lace

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