FROM GEORGETOWN TO HOLLYWOOD

Balancing a career in Hollywood while raising a family in SoIN

Consulting with the Los Angeles Philharmonic

Many who make their living working in the world of music, theater, television and movies have their homes in places like Los Angeles, Chicago or New York, where they’re close to the main action of these industries.

Then there are those who opt to live outside of these areas but continue to have highly successful careers. One of those people is Brad Ritchie, who works quite comfortably from his home in Georgetown, Indiana.

Ritchie is a professional music orchestrator, arranger and copyist. He’s also a dedicated husband and the father of two adorable children. Ritchie will tell you, straight off, that with his work in television, movies, video games and other projects, he is not the one who is composing the music.

“I get really, really defensive about this because one of the things I pride myself on is that for the most part on everything that I work on nowadays, I am just a member of the team. I have found over the years that brings me the most joy. I like helping other people get things done and getting it done right.”  

“I get really, really defensive about this because one of the things I pride myself on is that for the most part on everything that I work on nowadays, I am just a member of the team,” he explains. “I have found over the years that brings me the most joy. I like helping other people get things done and getting it done right.”

He says that the happy byproduct of the work he does is that he can remain in Indiana. “If I wanted to still be the composer, I would have to be in Los Angeles,” he says. “You have to be in the room with the directors, taking the meetings, doing the dog and pony show, taking the screenings — all that kind of stuff. I don’t have to do that.”

The amount and scope of work Ritchie has done in this industry is mind-boggling.“For a couple of years, I was writing tons of pops orchestra arrangements, like orchestra charts to accompany a rock band. Arranging can be anything. It can be full symphonic stuff like that, it can be writing stand-alone charts,” he says. “Last year, Teddy (Abrams) and the Louisville Orchestra asked me to write an arrangement of ‘Have a Little Faith in Me’ so that Andy Beshear could dance to it at the inauguration.”   

“For a couple of years, I was writing tons of pops orchestra arrangements, like orchestra charts to accompany a rock band. Arranging can be anything. It can be full symphonic stuff like that, it can be writing stand-alone charts,” he says. “Last year, Teddy (Abrams) and the Louisville Orchestra asked me to write an arrangement of ‘Have a Little Faith in Me’ so that Andy Beshear could dance to it at the inauguration.”   

Ritchie’s interest in music began when he was about 9 years old and learned to play the guitar. “I got the music bug early,” he says. “My dad and uncles played guitar and they’d play and sing around the fire at campouts.

”As he got older, Ritchie began playing the violin, he sang in the school choir, and he performed in musical theater at Floyd Central High School. While he was in high school, he began cultivating an interest in writing music, especially music for films.

As he got older, Ritchie began playing the violin, he sang in the school choir, and he performed in musical theater at Floyd Central High School. While he was in high school, he began cultivating an interest in writing music, especially music for films.

After graduation, Ritchie enrolled in the University of Louisville as a composition major. He says his real thrust into the world of working in music happened when he wrote an arrangement of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” for the University of Louisville Orchestra’s Halloween concert. He also did other work, such as writing string arrangements for local bands for their albums.

“But the moment that kind of got me into the ‘pickle’ that I’m in right now — one day I randomly instant-messaged a friend who I went to Floyd Central with,” Ritchie says. “He was up Ball State University in the media program, and I was like, ‘If you guys are ever working on anything, I’m really interested in doing this (writing music).’”

His friend responded, saying, “Well, as a matter of fact, we’re working on a film that we’re hoping to submit to the Student Academy Awards. Do you want to write the music for it?” Ritchie said he would. 

As a result of the work he had done arranging, Ritchie became very good friends with Kimcherie Lloyd, director of Orchestra Studies at the University of Louisville. One day, he expressed to her his desire to work with a large orchestra to record his music. Lloyd offered him the use of the school’s symphony orchestra for a four-hour block so he could record his 15-minute piece.

The film he worked on, called “Perspective,” was submitted to the Student Academy Awards, ultimately winning the Gold Medal in 2006 in the Alternative category. The icing on the cake is that Ritchie won an individual Emmy in 2007 through the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Lower Great Lakes Division for this score.

After graduating from the University of Louisville, Ritchie enrolled in the Scoring for Motion Picture and Television program at the University of Southern California. He was one of 20 students in the program that year. Over 400 had applied. He graduated with a graduate certificate from the program and decided to stick around L.A. to work, but that only lasted a couple of years as he longed to return to Indiana.

Ritchie returned to the University of Louisville, but in a professional capacity, working in the music department as an engineering stage technician. His duties included managing the concert hall, running concerts, and recording and producing the archive recordings. He stayed there until August 2019.

While Ritchie was working at the university, he began his own audio and video recording company in 2010 called Main Office Productions.

“This was supposed be a little side hustle that turned into this complete other full-time gig. I’ve worked with everyone from middle schools to high schools, bands, orchestras, choirs. I’ve worked with the Louisville Orchestra doing their recordings, I work with the Louisville Chamber Choir, the Louisville Youth Choir and the Louisville Youth Orchestra, and I do a lot of work with the Kentucky Music Educators Association to record all of the state conferences and assessments, things like that.”    

“This was supposed be a little side hustle that turned into this complete other full-time gig,” he says. “I’ve worked with everyone from middle schools to high schools, bands, orchestras, choirs. I’ve worked with the Louisville Orchestra doing their recordings, I work with the Louisville Chamber Choir, the Louisville Youth Choir and the Louisville Youth Orchestra, and I do a lot of work with the Kentucky Music Educators Association to record all of the state conferences and assessments, things like that. I’m heavily invested in that realm. I have 30 to 40 school clients I work with.”

Because of the trajectory his career has taken over the years, Ritchie says he should really brand himself as a “musical firefighter.” 

“That’s what I get called for a lot of the times. One of the advantages I have is I work very, very quickly,” he explains. 

Ritchie has definitely made his mark in the industry, keeping busy with various projects on a consistent basis.

“I was on the copying/editing team that did the Woody Allen film ‘Manhattan’ that premiered with the New York Philharmonic. I got to go to New York and go to rehearsals. That was crazy. I’ve also been working with a composer named Justin Hurwitz, who did ‘La La Land,’ but his first movie he worked on, ‘Whiplash,’ they’re doing a live-to-picture show of that. I re-orchestrated that whole thing and worked with him on that.”

“I’ve started doing a lot of work on live-to-picture shows, where the orchestra plays live with the picture playing over it,” he says. “I was on the copying/editing team that did the Woody Allen film ‘Manhattan’ that premiered with the New York Philharmonic. I got to go to New York and go to rehearsals. That was crazy. I’ve also been working with a composer named Justin Hurwitz, who did ‘La La Land,’ but his first movie he worked on, ‘Whiplash,’ they’re doing a live-to-picture show of that. I re-orchestrated that whole thing and worked with him on that.”

Ritchie says that he is fortunate to have learned, early on, what his strengths are in this business.

“People will ask, ‘Why don’t you like to write, why do you like arranging or orchestrating as opposed to composing?’” he says. “It’s like putting a puzzle together. I like putting a puzzle together, but I don’t like making the individual puzzle pieces.” 

Story by Julie Engelhardt

Photos submitted by Brad Ritchie

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