Master Classes

Making Music for Film & TV

Date: Mon Nov 28 2022

Time: 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Location: MacPhail Live Online

This is a free community event. All are welcome.

Please note: 7-9 pm (Central Standard Time)

Link to join roundtable (Goes LIVE on November 28 at 7pm.)


A Composer’s Roundtable Discussion

Join us online for an insider’s look into the process of creating music for film and television. The panel brings together three professional film/tv composers and a director to discuss their latest works and the creative process that goes into making music for film and TV.

Featuring MacPhail faculty, Barbara Cohen with special guests Marco D’Ambrosio, Ben Decter, and Craig Rice. Moderated by musician, educator, and MacPhail EMRA (Electronic Music Recording Arts) Director, Michael Cain.

Meet the Artists

Barbara Cohen

Barbara Cohen is an accomplished singer/songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer whose work embraces a variety of genres—from folk to trip-hop, electronica, world, and modern-classical music.

Her career as a recording artist includes co-founding the Virgin Records’ band, Brother Sun, Sister Moon, collaborating with England’s rave luminaries, Orbital, singing lead vocals for the French experimental duo, Air, and releasing critically acclaimed albums, both as a soloist and with Red House Record’s band Farm Accident and Girl & Her Monster Record’s band Little Lizard.  

Barbara’s ability to blend disparate musical elements extends to her scores for film and television: these range from the orchestral themes for the Academy Award-nominated documentary, Four Winters, to the South American influenced score for the Emmy-nominated POV documentary, The Judge and the General, to the dream-like cabaret-feel of the HBO feature, Habana Eva and the guitar driven score for the MTV feature, Pedro. Her Middle Eastern influenced scores play an intrinsic role in the feature documentaries The Lost Dream PBS/POV and Al Jazeera America’s Words of Witness. 

Her awards include admittance to the prestigious Sundance Film Composer Lab Fellowship, BMI Conducting Workshop, the Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship Grant for Artistry and Composition and the Minnesota Music Awards for Artist of the Year & Vocalist of the Year.

As an educator Barbara Cohen is a faculty instructor for the EMRA (Electronic Music Recording Arts) program, at MacPhail Center for Music. She also taught for over twenty years at Musicians Institute in Los Angeles California, and has guest lectured at the University of Southern California’s Cinematic & Animation Arts, Art Center College of Design Pasadena, CA and was a Panelist for CILECT Sound Conference at Chapman University, Orange CA.

Marco d’Ambrosio

Marco d’Ambrosio is a composer, conductor, music producer, instrumentalist and all-around noise maker. He has worked on many award-winning films, documentaries, animation, games and theatre projects including scores for the anime classic Vampire Hunter D Bloodlust, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures, Haiku Tunnel, The Rape of Europa and We Live In Public. Marco has also composed and/or conducted on numerous projects by 20th C. Fox, Lucasfilm, Dreamworks, Sony, Disney/ABC, Microsoft Studios and Blizzard.

Some of his more recent scores include, “Inequality for All”  and “ Saving Capitalism” both with Robert Reich, “Holy Silence”, ”The Levys of Monticello” and the dark comedy “Bitter Melon”. Currently, Marco is scoring “Empowered” a series that introduces us to brilliant minds across the energy industry who are powering us toward a carbon-free future. Additionally, Marco is a regular session conductor at Skywalker Sound. He holds an adjunct faculty position at the San Francisco Conservatory and is a lecturer on film scoring at Stanford University.

Ben Decter

Ben Decter is an Emmy Award-winning composer and songwriter who has created a diverse body of music for television, theater and film. Ben’s Emmy resulted from his score for the Academy Award-nominated film “Operation Homecoming.” He recently completed the sixth and final season of Netflix’s “Lucifer.” Other recent projects include “Bless This Mess” (ABC), “Lethal Weapon” (FOX), “Shadowhunters” (Freeform), and “Shut Eye” (HULU).

The range of his work includes the lush, orchestral score to Shonda Rhimes’ ABC drama, “OFF THE MAP”, the procedural drama, “CSI: Cyber” (CBS), the soundtrack to Frontline’s “Fast Times at West Philly High” and “FREQUENCY” on the CW. Ben’s music is an integral part of NFL FILMS. He scored the Emmy-nominated Peter Jennings/ABC News Special celebrating Martin Luther King’s March on Washington. Ben also co-created the score to “WE LIVE IN PUBLIC”, a Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize winner.

“Another Big Day”, Ben’s much-loved children’s CD (a collaboration with Dave Nachmanoff) received national recognition and critical praise. Ben also records as Paley Jones and as one-half of Emalazarus, a folk-electronica duo.

Born in Manhattan, and raised in New Jersey, Ben graduated from Harvard University, where he majored in political science and met his future wife, Jackie Sloan– the founder of The Children’s Ranch.

Craig Rice

Craig Laurence Rice is a long-established award-winning internationally recognized filmmaker with a distinguished career in the film, video, television, theater, and music industries.

He was Executive Producer / Director of the widely revered documentary Half Past Autumn: The Life and Works of Gordon Parks (HBO) which was nominated for three Emmy awards, winner of the Tree of Life Award from The Friends of the Motion Picture Academy, NAACP Image Award, it was also selected to the Museum of Television and Radio in the year 2000.

He has various credits serving as a Second Unit Director and Assistant Director on about 20 productions, long-form and feature-length films including Graffiti Bridge, Purple Rain, Brother From Another Planet, and Joe Somebody.

Notable television credits include Producer of We Teach Our Children (CBS), PBS variety show The Prairie Home Companion 30th, and Producer for New Dramas for Television for The Eugene O’ Neill Theater Center for 4 seasons. He was also the executive Producer of the nationally syndicated series Million Dollar Idea.

As a commercial award-winning director and producer, Rice has helmed over 50 commercials for clients such as Amoco, Nike, Target, Kraft, United Way, McDonald’s, and the Partnership for Drug-Free America. Most recently, he produced two Silver Clio award-winning spots for General Mills.

Rice has directed 30 music videos with artists including Prince, Mavis Staples, Mazarati, Patti LaBelle, and Sounds of Blackness.

He holds degrees from the University of Southern California Cinema Department, Filmmaking and Photography at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design, and a Liberal Arts degree from Minneapolis Community and Technical College and studies in theater and filmmaking at the University of Minnesota.

Michael Cain

After moving to New York in 1990, Cain became a first call pianist, working with drum legend Jack DeJohnette for nine years, as well as Dave Holland, Steps Ahead, Ravi Coltrane, Bobby McFerrin, Stanley Turrentine, Lauren Hill, Joshua Redman, Pat Metheny, Charles Neville, Christian McBride, John Scofield, Robin Eubanks, and Meshell N’degeocello, among others.

His numerous awards include a 2006 Grammy nomination for Dance of the Infidel, Meshell N’degeocello’s release on which Michael is pianist and co-arranger. He has recorded several records as a leader including Circa, a 1996 ECM release which featured Ralph Alessi and Peter Epstein, and served as producer for several recordings including Ron Blake’s Shariya, and Brian Landrus’ Traverse and Capsule.

Other Notable projects include serving as musical director for the Jose Limon Dance Company, scoring the films Maybe and Real With Me, by director Carl Ford for Black Nexxus Films, and composing the music for the Broadway play View from 151st Street, which ran at the George Papp Public Theater in New York in the fall of 2007. Most recent, Michael produced the Western Canadian recording “Rebirth of the Cool” for Cellar Live Records. During the summer of 2018 Michael toured with legendary trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard.

As an educator Michael has been a Professor at the Eastman School of Music, the New England Conservatory of Music, the University of Minnesota, and Brandon University in Brandon, MB, Canada.

Michael’s latest release is entitled Hoo Doo and is available on iTunes and other platforms.

Thank you to our presenting partner, FilmNorth

FilmNorth, formerly known as Independent Film Project, serves as the largest filmmaker’s service organization in the Upper Midwest, and one of the largest in the nation. Through fellowships and fiscal sponsorships, FilmNorth helps artists bring their projects to life. Each year, FilmNorth sponsors 50 fiscal sponsorship projects and administers several similar programs, including four competitive McKnight Media Artist Fellowships. Annually, over 250 new, emerging, and established filmmakers seek access to low-cost editing suites, classrooms, meeting space, and filmmaking equipment. More than 4,000 audience members attend screenings, workshops, and seminars each year. 

FilmNorth is located at 550 Vandalia St., Suite 120, St. Paul, MN 55114. To learn more, visit or call 651-644-1912.

Electronic Music Recording Arts at MacPhail

Learn more about developing and expanding music technology skills and creativity here!
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