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Armed with a synthesizer, advanced digital performance software and a background in spontaneous jazz performance, an Old Dominion University music professor has composed the film score for "The Boys of H Company," airing this month on the Discovery Channel.

The documentary, from Dominion Pictures of Virginia Beach, tells the story of the young men, ages 18-20, who stormed the beaches at Iwo Jima. The film interviews survivors, including one local resident, and shows actual footage of the fighting, which is completed by the powerful score created by John Toomey, University Professor of music.

"The Boys of H Company" will run on the Discovery Channel at 1 p.m. Sept. 16 in HD on Discovery HD Theater. It was filmed in high definition and Dolby surround sound 5.1. Listen to a clip of the music at http://www.odu.edu/oduhome/news/mp3.html.

"In order to score a film I literally sit and watch the whole thing, minute by minute, and as the director tells me where he wants music, I begin composing on the spot," explained Toomey. "Being a jazz performer, I'm used to creating in the moment, so that works for me." He scored the film in Virginia Beach at Earworks Studios, where he worked with owner Robert Smith.

A recipient of both the SCHEV Outstanding Faculty Award and the TELETECHNET Professor of the Year Award, Toomey teaches classes in Jazz Studies and Music Technology at Old Dominion.

"My master's-level students are learning to do what I am doing for films," Toomey said. "I use a digital performing sequencing program with a keyboard and when I'm finished it sounds like the music is coming from a live orchestra. I use the same program in teaching my classes at ODU."

Prior to joining the faculty at Old Dominion, he was music director and keyboardist for jazz trumpet legend Maynard Ferguson, with whom he recorded two CDs.

Toomey is still an active performer, touring the world with such artists as Mark Murphy and Rene Marie, and has performed in Africa, Portugal, France, Japan, Switzerland and the Dominican Republic. He has also composed several soundtracks for features and documentaries for the History Channel, the Discovery Channel and NBC. Toomey holds a master's degree from the Eastman School of Music.

Toomey's other film scoring credits include: "Tuskegee Airmen, American Heroes" (NBC), "Barbarians: The Battle for Rome" (History Channel) and "Jamestown Rediscovery: A World Uncovered" (Discovery Channel). He has won two Telly Awards for music composition. Toomey has been featured on "Weekend Edition" with jazz vocalist Rene Marie and performed at the Attucks Theater for the NPR "Jazz Christmas" program. Several cuts from his recording "Refraction" have been utilized by "All Things Considered."

This article was posted on: September 8, 2006

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