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Emmy® award-winner ASHLEY IRWIN is one of Hollywood's most versatile composers and arrangers.
He won his first Emmy (“Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction") for his work on the 1992 ACADEMY AWARDS presentation and again in 1998 and 2003. In fact, Ashley has been providing arrangements for the Oscars since 1990 and his work has been nominated for Emmy's on almost every occasion.
In 1998 he won the most coveted award for film music in his native Australia when his score to the restored 1926 German classic "THE WHITE HELL OF PIZ PALÜ" collected top honors from the Australian Guild of Screen Composers. Among his other awards are gold and platinum record albums, a slew of advertising awards and the 1989 IMMEDIA Award for "Composer/Producer/Arranger of the Year" in Australia.
When Sydney-born Ashley moved to Los Angeles in 1990 he came with a considerable body of work covering nearly all aspects of the music industry; film, television, advertising, theatre. He has since expanded even further, adding video game music to his arsenal with the G.A.N.G. award-winning score for The Godfather video game for Electronic Arts.
Born into a musical family – his mother had been a singer with the Trocadero big band and his father a drum major in the Australian Army Band during World War II - he was brought up in a household rich with the sounds of Louis Armstrong, Glenn Miller, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra. It was no surprise that Ashley was introduced to music early with piano lessons at age three. He had been learning singing and tap-dancing from the age of 18 months (yes, it seems hard to believe) and he made his first appearance at two years old on a TV show called "SMALL TIME" which was hosted by Chris Bearde, who eventually left Australia and went on to create shows like "LAUGH IN" and "THE GONG SHOW" in the U.S.
Ashley continued singing and dancing lessons until he was six at which time his interest in playing music began to take over. He had started taking drum lessons at the age of five and continued playing drums until he was 16 years old. He was still studying classical piano but felt the need to learn more contemporary and pop styles. He studied with prominent Australian jazz pianist Harry Lynn, for a little over two years until Harry refused to continue teaching him for fear of having Ashley merely emulate his teacher’s style rather than developing an individuality of his own. While shattered at the time, in hindsight Ashley admits it was one of the most honest and gracious things any of his mentors have ever done for him.
While attending Trinity College in Sydney Ashley had begun to play the cornet in the Army cadet brass band, and had developed an interest in arranging music so he entered the New South Wales Conservatorium of Music to study arranging and composition. His teachers were jazz guitarist George Golla and trombonist/arranger William Motzing. As fate would have it, some 20 years later, Bill Motzing was living and teaching in Germany when Ashley went to Berlin in 1994 to record his score to "THE EXPERT" and he invited Bill to conduct the Babelsberg Film Orchestra in order to share the experience of working with one of his teachers.
Upon his graduation from Trinity, Ashley was offered a position as one of three keyboard players in the Australian production of "JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR" and toured Australia for over a year. When "SUPERSTAR" closed he took the position of Musical Director for the Australian version of the Broadway show "LET MY PEOPLE COME". At 18 years old Ashley was the youngest M.D. in Australian theatrical history. He continued working in theatre for a few more years and it was during his tenure as Associate Music Director/Conductor for the Adelaide Festival Centre Trust's production of "NED KELLY" that he met his future wife Beverley who was playing the role of Kate, Ned's sister.
Ashley's talents as an arranger and musical director were soon being called upon by the recording industry and after arranging and producing an album for prominent Australian artist, Col Joye he was appointed the in-house producer and A&R manager of Colin & Kevin Jacobsen's independent label, ATA RECORDS. He left ATA in 1980 and produced the hit record "KISS ARMY / NORMDRUM" for comedian Norman Gunston and musically directed his national stage tour.
Between 1981 and 1984 Ashley firmly established himself as an arranger at the forefront of the Australian recording industry working the entire gamut of films, records, commercials and documentaries interspersed with the occasional live performance. It was at this time that he also began to devote more attention to composition.
In 1984, Ashley was commissioned as the Music Recording Supervisor for the film "THE COOLANGATTA GOLD", during which he met Academy Award-winning composer Bill Conti who had been chosen to compose the score. Bill was so impressed by Ashley's work he asked him to mix the soundtrack album and produce the single from the movie, "HEARTBEAT". This association blossomed into both a close friendship and a strong musical relationship, and eventually led Ashley and his family to relocate to America. After his work with Conti, international markets started to open up for Ashley, working with the likes of Maurice Jarre and Peter Matz. Bill Conti's recommendations enabled him to produce records in the U.S. for such acts as The Spinners, Ashford & Simpson and Roberta Flack.
In 1986, aside from traveling exhaustively producing various acts for an assortment of record and publishing companies Ashley was commissioned by FAIRLIGHT INSTRUMENTS to create and record their acclaimed library of orchestral instrument samples for their SERIES III Computer Musical Instrument. He was also a consultant to the ROLAND CORPORATION of Japan for 7 years.
Over the next few years, became the “go-to guy” for music on Australian TV. Many of his shows have been released throughout the world (including "E STREET", "RICHMOND HILL", "ALL THE WAY"."WILLING & ABEL" and "CHANCES").
With the downturn in the Australian film and TV industry in 1989, due in part to the financial over-commitment of entrepreneurs, the time seemed right for Ashley to relocate himself, his family and his recording studio to the States and continue his career. After receiving a Visa of Distinguished Merit from the U.S. government, he took up residence in the Los Angeles in 1990.
Since his arrival in Hollywood, Ashley has scored over 20 feature films in his own right and lent his talents to many more as orchestrator, arranger and/or music producer. He has also provided his services extensively as composer, musical director and/or arranger in television, as well as for arena events and theme parks around the globe.
Meanwhile, Ashley’s original orchestral scores to famous silent film restorations continue to be performed extensively in film-live concerts throughout the world.