Christopher J. Wills
Composer, Arranger, Orchestrator, Pianist/Keyboardist
Christopher J. Wills is a composer and pianist based in sunny Southern California. He has performed and recorded for film and television productions including Columbia Pictures’ Spider-Man 2 (the finest of Sam Raimi’s three Spidey movies, dare one say), toured in concert with singer and actress Lorna Luft (daughter of Judy Garland), Jim Curry (the nation’s leading John Denver artist) with the Pacific Symphony under Richard Kaufman, Houston Symphony under Michael Krajewski, Cincinnati Pops under Stephen Reineke and dozens of other orchestras at major venues such as Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheater and Irvine’s Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, and more. Wills frequently performs for colorful Broadway musicals and revues at venues such as the Carpenter Center (Disney’s The Little Mermaid under John Glaudini) and Candlelight Pavilion (Salute to Tony Bennett). He recorded in sessions with the lovely Dale Kristien from LA’s Phantom of the Opera and Jordan Bennett from Les Misérables.
Recent performances include a concert currently airing on AXS TV and planned for PBS Soundstage broadcasts: the star-studded Colorado Music Hall of Fame (entitled “The Rocky Mountain Way”) featuring Garth Brooks, Amy Grant, Vince Gill, John Oates, Joe Walsh, the Lumineers, and Grammy-winning Gold-record artist and modern cowboy Michael Martin Murphey—a sold-out event at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheater that attracted 20,000 concertgoers. No pressure whatsoever. Wills also performed with Steve Amerson (“America’s Tenor”) for a Progeria research event with Hollywood actors Ted Danson and wife Mary Steenburgen, and father of Sam Berns (featured in an HBO documentary). Other artists with whom Wills has been fortunate to perform include author Joni Eareckson-Tada, Elvis Presley’s guitarist James Burton, gospel singers Buddy Greene and Lillie Knauls, the twin sons of Ricky Nelson, Ingrid Chun and Ingrid Hutman (violinist and violist from the Los Angeles Philharmonic), jazz saxophonist Justo Almario, oboist Tom Boyd, singer Marsha Skidmore and drummer David Owens (Franklin Graham Crusades), percussionists Richie and son Roland Gajate Garcia, singer/songwriter Tommy Walker, crooner Frank DiSalvo at Agua Caliente, and American Idol’s bubbly redhead Carrie Jo Hubrich.
Recent composition projects include animation film trailer music for Colossal’s Hollywoodland. He served as composer-in-residence with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic at SUNY (State University New York). He won Hollywood and national composition awards including the Kenneth Davenport National Competition for Orchestral Works which featured world premiere performances at the Bardavon Opera House under conductor Randall Craig Fleischer, broadcasted for radio programs and reviewed in various newspapers. He also twice won the ASMAC Irwin Kostal Memorial Award for Composition, presented by legendary film composer John Williams at the Beverly Hilton. Wills composed an original work entitled A Centennial Tribute to celebrate the 1908 founding of Biola University. He has also worked with Invisible Children’s Jason Russell (KONY 2012 viral video), scoring, conducting and recording his USC master’s thesis film entitled Fly at the Steven Spielberg Scoring Stage (currently named after John Williams) and screened at the Norris Cinema Theatre. He has also written radio theme music for HCJB World Radio hosted by Eric Skattebo, and a documentary entitled Ability, which was screened at Fox Theatre for the Christian Youth Film Festival. He is currently composing a work for brass quintet to feature bass trombonist Ilan Morgenstern of the Vancouver Symphony.
Currently, Mr. Wills is working on writing arrangements and orchestrations for the Moody Blues in concert with the Philly Pops (entitled Go Now! with Gordy Marshall), a recording project with Persian pop star Hafez Nazeri and the London Philharmonic Orchestra and a concert with the Pacific Symphony (Nowruz, Persian New Year). Wills has been commissioned by orchestras including the Boston Pops, Philly Pops, Seattle, Houston and Dallas Symphonies, and the Atlanta Symphony and Chorus to arrange for programs such as Epic Hollywood Soundtracks at Verizon Hall and Pop Legends in Symphony at Meyerson Center, A Very Merry Pops holiday shows featuring Broadway stars Ashley Brown and Montego Glover, The Sounds of Simon and Garfunkel concerts which are currently touring around the country, featured on public radio and reviewed in local papers, and Tapestry: the Carole King Songbook conducted by maestro Michael Krajewski, featuring Tony-nominated Liz Callaway (the voice of Disney’s Anastasia) with the Boston Pops. Wills recently arranged and orchestrated 17 charts for the concert series Space Oddity: Tribute to David Bowie presented by David Brighton (a regular on AXS TV), recently performed by the Toledo Symphony, Dayton Philharmonic and Bangor Symphony orchestras. Wills also contributed to the album and film project Great Voices Sing John Denver with Placido Domingo.
Mr. Wills was contracted as an arranger for Lillenas Publishing for which He Sends the Snow was selected as “Editor’s Choice” at J.W. Pepper, sold in bookstores around the country such as LifeWay, and recorded in Nashville. Wills arranged the Americana Suite for the Glendale Symphony at Alex Theatre, and Capistrano Symphony at Mission San Juan Capistrano, working with guitarist Del Casher (dubbed the “papa of the wah-wah pedal”). Wills is also currently arranging for an orchestral video game music series entitled Game On! featuring cellist sensation Tina Guo (who toured with Hans Zimmer and served as the musical voice of “Wonder Woman”). He recently worked with composer Lee Holdridge to orchestrate Neil Diamond songs for concerts with Orchestra Kentucky featuring Jack Wright, conducted by Jeffrey Reed. Wills also wrote a number of USC master’s thesis and short film scores recorded at the Spielberg Scoring Stage.
Mr. Wills has taught as Professor of Music at Azusa Pacific University, Biola University, Vanguard University, California State University Long Beach and Citrus College (Early College Program at Azusa High School), diligently laboring over his students and seeking to pass on his love for music to the next generation. He has authored five textbooks on musical academic subjects and developed two online ear training courses. Last but not least, for over 30 years he has served as a music director and pianist accompanying worship teams, choirs and orchestras at First Evangelical Free Church of Fullerton (with Darin McWatters, Mike Erre and Dale Burke), Mosaic (with Erwin McManus), Eagle Rock Christian Assembly (with Tommy Walker) and Covina Presbyterian. Responsibilities also included writing arrangements and orchestrations and providing conducting leadership for the ensembles.