Composing a career

 

Mohawk graduate, Lorenzo Castelli ‘08 has had an incredible career composing theme music and scoring for dozens of popular children’s TV shows.

By Emmett Steele ‘22 (Journalism)

Music has a profound impact on the lives of many. Lorenzo Castelli ’08 is one. His journey as a musician has brought him to new heights and success that most people can only imagine – conducting an orchestra, composing television theme songs, and even having his music heard across Canada.

Lorenzo’s journey starts at Mohawk College, where he graduated from the Applied Music program in 2008. When he started as a student at Mohawk, Lorenzo couldn’t have guessed where his career would lead.

“My time at Mohawk is all fond memories,” said Lorenzo. “Seeing the enthusiasm of the professors for teaching music was infectious, the passion that they had for the content made you value what you were learning. It really upped where I was as a musician. It was a game changer.”

Lorenzo credits Mohawk with helping him become the musician he is today. “I went into Mohawk trying to learn anything,” said Lorenzo. “I was young and naïve, but I had enough confidence that I was up for the challenge. That’s what took me from hobby rock musician to learning theory and history and other genres of music. Discovering music theory and harmony really made me want to compose.”

According to Lorenzo, the industry leaders and professors at Mohawk built the foundation for his career in music. “It was such a big part of my growth as a musician,” said Lorenzo. “It was the growth. It was the birth of me as a composer.”

One of the aspects he found most valuable as a student was all the resources available at the college that helped him succeed. “At Mohawk there was always a room for you to practice,” said Lorenzo. “There was always a piano, if not a grand piano, available for you to play. The resources were there, the facilities were there, and that was huge. It provided me all the elements I needed to work on my craft.”

When Lorenzo graduated from the Applied Music program in 2008, he knew he didn’t want his education to stop there, so he became one of the first students to take advantage of Mohawk College’s articulation agreement with Berklee College of Music.

Through the articulation agreement, many of the credits Lorenzo had earned at Mohawk were able to carry over, and he could complete the degree at Berklee in just two years. “I auditioned and was able to get a scholarship, and then studied film scoring at Berklee,” said Lorenzo.

Once he began his studies at Berklee, the foundation he built at Mohawk allowed him to thrive. “I was awarded the film scoring student of the year in my final year,” said Lorenzo. “For that award I had to write an original piece, on top of my course load, for a 40-piece orchestra.” The piece was approximately seven minutes in length.

Lorenzo regards composing for the orchestra as an opportunity of a lifetime. “It was incredible. My family and friends flew to Boston to watch as I conducted the orchestra, it was very cool.”

Lorenzo was able to successfully complete his degree and returned to Canada upon graduation. “After Berklee, I came back to Toronto and hit the ground running,” said Lorenzo. Through his network he was able to secure a job with the post production audio house, Eggplant LF.

Lorenzo has been steadily composing music since he was hired by Eggplant LF, known today as Pop Sound. “It’s been mainly kids animation that I’m working on,” he said. “I’ve worked on 50 or so different projects with varying requirements of theme songs, episodic songs and underscore.”

You may be familiar with his work, if you have kids who watch cartoons, odds are you’ve heard some of it. “I’ve worked on Carmen Sandiego, there’s a new reboot on Netflix. Magic School Bus Rides Again, another reboot. I’ve also done a bunch of songs for Thomas and Friends. Currently there’s some shows airing on CBC such as Molly of Denali and Dino Ranch.”

One of his favourite projects so far has been Molly of Denali. “Molly of Denali is about this girl Molly who lives in Alaska,” said Lorenzo. “It’s all about her Indigenous family and her community. I wrote the shows theme song, and score, and we had Indigenous singers come from Alaska who were incredible. It was great to dive into that world.”

While much of his work has been on children’s media, he has composed music that thousands of Canadians may be able to recognize. “There were  also the federal leaders debate in 2019 that I wrote the music for,” said Lorenzo. “That was kind of neat, on that night it played on five or six different networks in Canada including Global, CBC, CityTV, CTV, and more.”

Looking back on his career since Mohawk, Lorenzo has some advice for future and current music students. “Try and network as much as possible outside of school,” he says. “I was very focused on school, which isn’t bad, but in this kind of industry there’s a benefit to starting that networking while you’re still in school.”

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