Residence: United States of America
Official site: Mark Kilian
: (Updated 2021-02-06)
Mark Kilian was born in Benoni, South Africa. He studied piano and guitar at school, and then continued his studies at the University of Natal in Durban under Professor Darius Brubeck. After graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Performance (cum laude and Dean's commendation) in 1990, he continued his studies in Natal working on his thesis, 'The relationship between music and sound effects in contemporary popular Hollywood film.' A synopsis of this thesis was published in the Society of Composers and Lyricists publication, 'The Score,' in Los Angeles. He graduated with a Master of Music degree in composition in 1994.
While studying, he lectured at the Department of Music's Gerald LaPierre electronic music studio and taught piano at the Shell School for underprivileged children. In 1994 he was chosen to be on the board of directors of the PWV Music Academy in Johannesburg. He has also lectured in electronic music at Occidental College and USC in Los Angeles.
His awards include the South African International Composers Competition (twice), the SAMRO (South Africa's ASCAP) overseas scholarship for pianists, the Creative Arts Foundation of South Africa's Composer's Scholarship, the Harry Oppenheimer Memorial Trust for overseas study and a Special Citation Award for outstanding musicianship at the International Association of Jazz Educator's convention in Miami, Florida.
His concert work has included the symphonic Scenes from a Forthcoming Attraction and So Who Was Here First? His African-influenced String Quartet #1 was recorded in Los Angeles and his chamber works include Mismatch This Match and A La-la La-la Long Time We Have Waited, both of which are competition winners.
During the early Ď90s, Kilian spearheaded the popular Durban band Shades, which was one of the foremost club jazz bands to break the color barrier in South Africa at the time. He went on to perform with artists like Shirley Bassey, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Airto Moreira and the Brubeck brothers. He toured the US and Europe and recorded two albums with Darius Brubeck as Gathering Forces and the NU Jazz Connection. He also arranged many shows for big band in and around South Africa including Sammy Davis Tribute and Tom Waits Review Show.
With his eye set on studying film music composition in America, Mark enrolled into the graduate program Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television at the University of Southern California. After leaving USC, he was recruited by well-known film composer Christopher Young. Mark spent almost 3 years with Chris during which period he worked on many big films as electronic score producer and composer's assistant. Some of them include Species, Copycat, Virtuosity and Hard Rain.
In 1998, Mark was hired as a staff composer by Machine Head in Venice, California. He scored and wrote music for hundreds of high profile TV commercials for Apple, Toyota, Budweiser, Microsoft, Mastercard and United Airlines.
In 1997 Mark scored his first film, Lovergirl starring Sandra Bernhard. Since then he has written music for many features including King Solomon's Mines, Icon, Blind Horizon, Skulls 3, The Animatrix and Raise Your Voice. His TV credits include ABC's Daybreak and Jake in Progress, Kitchen Confidential (Fox), FX: The Series (Rysher) and Boarding House: The Northshore (WB). He has also provided music for the video games The Matrix: Path of Neo and Full Spectrum Warrior. Mark has worked as orchestrator, arranger and conductor for Paul Oakenfold, Rob D and Juno Reactor on the Matrix: Reloaded film. His special affinity for percussive music led fellow composer Christophe Beck to hire him to record and produce the electronically manipulated percussion element of the score for Elektra.
In 2004 Mark went to South Africa to score Tsotsi for writer-director Gavin Hood along with South African composer Paul Hepker. The film won the 2005 Academy Award for best foreign film. Mark and Paul went on to score Gavinís next film Rendition, traveling to Morocco and South Africa to research and record the music. They also scored The Bird Canít Fly, a Dutch-South African co-production.
In 2007 Mark traveled to India to record the music for Santosh Sivanís Before the Rains. He also wrote the music for Michael Skolnikís award winning documentary Without the King which was recorded in South Africa.
In 2006 Mark wrote and recorded strings for the new Glenn Hughes album Music for the Divine, produced by Chad Smith. Recently, Mark has released his first solo album under the name The Gravy Street entitled Daisy Confused. He is working on his second album.
Mark is currently writing the music for Traitor starring Don Cheadle, Guy Pierce and Jeff Daniels. It will be released in the fall of 2008.
Mark's deep understanding and appreciation of South African music, jazz, electronica and modern classical music has formed a musical style which has been described as rhythmically sophisticated, evocative and driving, while retaining a raw emotional simplicity that draws on the creative use of everyday sound.