Chad Cannon is a composer interested in the intersection of cultures, history, and human stories. His debut soundtracks received global recognition: Paper Lanterns, lauded as “haunting, mystical” by The Japan Times, received an IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Awards) nomination for Best Original Score for a Documentary, while Cairo Declaration, co-composed with Xiaogang Ye, received China’s highest film prize, the Golden Rooster Award for Best Music. In 2018-2019 he scored the acclaimed Netflix documentary, American Factory, which won the Best Director Award for a Documentary at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and is the first release by Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground. The PBS documentary CyberWork and the American Dream, with a symphonic Americana score by Chad, also aired nationally in April 2019, while his score to Chris Meledandri (Illumination Studios)’s short animation, The Dog Days of Winter, featuring the Grinch (Benedict Cumberbatch)’s dog, Max, aired on NBC nationally on Thanksgiving weekend, 2018, and is included on The Grinch DVD, released internationally in February 2019.
Praised by The New York Times as “subtle, agile," and with “vividness of emotion”, Chad’s concert works tend to explore human emotion through the lens of cultural history, and often include visual or literary elements. The Dreams of a Sleeping World, an hour-long symphony with woodwind soloist and choir, is based on 10 paintings by Japanese-Brazilian painter Oscar Oiwa, and features poems from around the world by individuals who have experienced large-scale calamities firsthand. Hailed as “a provocative amalgamation of sound, sight, and syntax” (15 Bytes: Utah’s Art Magazine), the symphony was premiered in 2017 by Mate Bekavac with the Slovenia Philharmonic and Choir, and recorded by Vladimir Kulenovic and the Hollywood Studio Symphony in 2018. The recording and “symphonic film” were also featured as part of Journey to the Light, a summer-long solo exhibition by Oiwa at the 21st Century Museum of Art in Kanazawa, Japan, one of the country’s premier art institutions, in 2019. Other commissions and collaborations include: Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA, The Barlow Endowment for Composition, Hub New Music, Julia Bullock & Davóne Tines, Farallon Quintet, The Bridge Piano Quartet, Kyoshin-An Arts, Nuo Spiritual Dance & Art Foundation, Hollywood Chamber Orchestra, Qingdao Symphony Orchestra, Beijing Modern Music Festival, Thailand International Composition Festival, and Chamber Music Connects the World (Kronberg Academy). In September 2019 conductor Kahchun Wong and the Nuremberg Symphony will premiere Chad’s newest concert work, Himmelserscheinungen (Sky Visions), inspired by photographs of Antarctica by Christopher Michel.
Chad has worked with several of the world’s best-loved film composers as arranger and orchestrator. As chief arranger for Studio Ghibli composer Joe Hisaishi since 2017, Chad has created large symphonic suites for Kiki’s Delivery Service, Castle in the Sky, and Spirited Away, with dozens of performances by the New Japan Philharmonic (and other orchestras) throughout Japan and East Asia. He also created the arrangements for the traveling show Joe Hisaishi Symphonic Concert: Music from the Studio Ghibli Films of Hayao Miyazaki, which has been performed on four continents to continually sold-out audiences, including in Carnegie Hall. Chad’s arrangements also comprise more than half of the score to Hisaishi’s August 2019 animation release, Ni no Kuni (Warner Bros. Japan). In Hollywood, Chad has worked under Conrad Pope on scores by Oscar-winning composers Alexandre Desplat (Secret Life of Pets 1 & 2, Godzilla) and Howard Shore (The Hobbit trilogy). He is also credited under Tim Williams on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and the 2019 summer blockbuster, The Fast & The Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, both by composer Tyler Bates.
Fluent in Japanese, Chad is the founder of the Asia / America New Music Institute (AANMI), which promotes cultural diplomacy through contemporary concert music. With AANMI, Chad has produced chamber music concerts throughout Japan (including Okinawa), Korea, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, and the United States, featuring some of the world’s most impressive young classical talent, including Matthew Aucoin, Ryu Goto, Davóne Tines, Rachel Lee Priday, Kahchun Wong, Yuga Cohler, Kojiro Umezaki, Narong Prangcharoen, and Angel Lam, among nearly 200 other performing artists and composers. AANMI’s 2018 Japan Tour saw performances in Suntory Hall and several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Nijojo Castle in Kyoto and Dazaifu Tenmangu in Fukuoka. AANMI’s debut recording, Transcendent, produced by Chad alongside Grammy-winning engineer Matthew Snyder, was released on Delos Records in 2018 to critical acclaim (“…speaks volumes for the high level of creativity flourishing in the 21st century.” - Gramophone; “…music so new, so original, so contemplative, and so deeply felt that it makes you want to listen, and then demands that you listen again.” - Stereophile). AANMI’s mission and impact continues to grow, with upcoming programs in Japan, the United States, and Hong Kong. In addition, Chad has produced charity concerts for Midori and the United Nations in Japan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Nepal. Together they visited more than 20,000 individuals in hospitals, schools, prisons, refugee camps, community centers, and diplomatic venues on eight separate tours.
Chad is a cum laude graduate of Harvard University, where he studied music and Japanese, and Juilliard, where he studied composition. He is also an alumnus of the Sundance Composer Labs - Documentary (2016).