Mark Orton's melodic horn and guitar themes aurally paint America's flyover states and the dramatic tension between father and son in Oscar® winning filmmaker Alexander Payne's Nebraska. The film follows booze-addled curmudgeon Woody Grant who makes a road trip from Montana to Nebraska with his estranged son David (Will Forte) to claim a million dollar sweepstakes prize. Nebraska has recently collected a number of accolades including the National Board of Review and Indie Spirit nominations. Nebraska – Music from the Motion Picture is available on Milan Records.
Orton's association with Nebraska began after the composer learned that the film's music editor, Richard Ford, used a number of the composer's cues from his previous works, including tracks from Sweet Land, a foreign language film he previously scored. Payne became smitten with Orton's canon, which includes music from his folk bluegrass collective Tin Hat, and tapped the composer to contribute additional music.
"I responded musically to the overall character arcs in the film, specifically the way Woody's character is revealed, not through his own doing, rather through the eyes of his family and supposed friends," explains Orton, "much of the score is a spare acoustic arrangement, reflecting the characters as well as the landscape." In addition to writing fresh cues on Nebraska, Orton also performed on various stringed instruments and percussion. Other instruments heard in Nebraska include dobro, strummed piano, celesta, harp, toy piano, reed organ, accordion and Stroh Violin.
In the wake of Nebraska, Orton's film scoring talents are heavily in demand. A graduate of the Sundance Institute's composer lab, Orton scored an electric guitar-based score for Sydney Freeland's 2014 Sundance Film Festival premiere Drunktown's Finest. For the Kevin Kline-Kristen Scott Thomas-Maggie Smith upcoming feature My Old Lady, Orton relied upon violin, cello and accordian in musically telling the tale of a man who inherits a Parisian apartment with an unexpected occupant. Other upcoming credits include the southern road trip dramedy Big Significant Things starring Harry Lloyd (Game of Thrones) and the neo-western Redemption Trail starring Lily Rabe (American Horror Story).
In addition to film scoring, Mark Orton also writes radio drama and concert music. He is a multi-instrumentalist, performing on all manner of guitars, keyboards, and percussion. Tin Hat, the San Francisco Bay Area based music collective he co-founded, has released five critically acclaimed albums. He has scored more than a dozen film scores including the Jennifer Aniston arthouse hit The Good Girl and the Slamdance winning documentary The Real Dirt on Farmer John. Inspired by his father who was a conductor and music professor, Orton studied composition at an early age under the instruction of Danny Deutsch (who also mentored Oscar®-nominated composer Marco Beltrami) and attended The Hartt School of Music and the Peabody Conservatory. Orton has also worked with several notable musical artists including Willie Nelson, Tom Waits, Sonic Youth and Laurie Anderson.