Scoring Engineers: Glenn Neibaur and Aaron Gant
Released by BRC Imagination Arts 1997
the restricted areas of the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral,
Florida, and being in total awe of what I’m witnessing, the last thing I
anticipated was coming across some of the best music I’ve heard in 1999. One
portion of the tour is the Apollo/Saturn V Center which opened in December
of 1996. It is a divided into
three powerful segments. The
first is purely a film documentary. The
second is an incredible mixture of film and live reenactment of the Apollo
8 launch. Last, is the actual
exhibit where, among other incredible sites, one of the three remaining
Saturn V rockets lies horizontally suspended about 10 feet from the
ground. Through each section
of this exhibit is David Kneupper’s astounding score.
makes this a unique score is that it not only serves as score for the film
elements of the exhibit, but also as mood music as you stand flabbergasted
in front of the Saturn V, lunar landers, and other incredible vehicles. Thankfully,
within the exhibit is a gift shop that, as a direct answer to prayer, sold
copies of the score!
CD is broken up into two sections: The Firing Room and The Lunar
Theatre, which coincide with two sections of the exhibit.
section of the tour is a "live" experience from the control room
during the launch of Apollo 8. The CD begins with The Early Years
which is strongly reminiscent of James Horner’s Apollo 13 main
The overall mood of the score is not unlike Apollo 13 in
many ways, but incorporates music styles of some other familiar film
composers as well. David
Kneupper uses strong percussion and brass like some of the best film music
magicians out there. Track 1
switches from its heroic beginning to a much more foreboding mood as the
challenges and tragedies of the US space program are documented; however,
a return to the solo trumpet finishes out the track.
2,Kenned Charts the Course , brings back the glorious main fanfare
but quickly dives into a much more militaristic motif- one full of
persistence and determination.
Here, the main theme weaves in and out played by the brass section
and woodwinds. Finally, it
reaches a crescendo as the strings percussion hold a steady rhythm.
This track is equally as pleasing as its predecessor.
The mood changes substantially as track 3. Apollo 1,
begins with a very beautiful theme played by the flutes and
strings. It has the playful
innocence of Horner’s Searching for Bobby Fisher, but
unfortunately, is extremely short – under one minute. Track 4, Rebuilding, is a serious bit of music.
It chronicles the rebounding of the Apollo program after the Apollo
1 tragedy. It begins quite
forcefully, but ends, again, with the solo trumpet theme.
The heart of the CD is reached in tracks 5 and 6.
Launch Day – December 1968, track 5, has an eerie quality to
it. While it begins with the
majestic style of the previous tracks, it quickly retreats to a darker
mood of anticipation. Kneupper
introduces the reverberating bell that begins to hold a tight-rope of
consistency through the entire track.
This track builds and builds, very much like The Launch from
Apollo 13, but it is no rip-off.
Kneupper creates his own sense of expectancy, urgency, hope, and
triumph, through percussion, strings, and brass.
Again, like Horner’s The Launch, it is one of the longer
tracks of the CD. Liftoff,
track 6, continues the motif of track 5, and one wouldn’t even realize
that is was a different track if the track listing didn’t say so.
The Lunar Theatre
Yet another portion of the exhibit is the Lunar
Theatre. This is a 400 person theatre that depicts the Apollo 11
mission and the
first-ever landing of Man on the Moon. Here, one is in for a real
dynamic experience and Kneupper’s score plays a vital role in this as
well. As the first
lunar landing is chronicled before one’s eye’s Kneupper’s music
saturates the ears. Track 7, Preparing
to Land, starts off mildly with timpanis and woodwinds.
Also, the bell introduced earlier continues to ring its consistent
tone of unwavering determination. This
track moves into high gear with drums, congas, and other various
percussion instruments and takes on a bit of a Hans Zimmer feel.
Shortly into track 8, a choir very much in the line of Hans
Zimmer’s Crimson Tide or even Goldsmith’s 13th
Warrior makes a brief appearance and reappears with a bit more force
later in the track. Even with these notable styles present, Kneupper
doesn’t lose the Horner-like style that permeates the entire score.
is one of the best tracks of the CD. Since it incorporates elements from three of the best film
composers out there, how could it not be?
One Small Step for Man, is a triumphant blast of
brass that is as heroic as music gets.
Once again, it is a very short track that leaves one begging for
more. It concludes with the
piano playing the main theme and strings accompanying it.
Simply gorgeous! It
flows seamlessly into the final track of the CD, The Future of Space. Track 10, sums up the entire experience.
It is playfully optimistic. It
is profoundly simple, yet magical. It
replays the main themes in a wondrous arrangement that casts one’s
imagination out of this world and into the possibilities that lie in the
It is hard to imagine any composer doing a better job than
David Kneupper for this experience. If
this were a score to feature film instead of an obscure CD released
in 1997, I’d have no trouble watching David Kneupper receive an Oscar
for his work. Comparing this score to the likes of Horner, Zimmer,
and Goldsmith only offers the highest praise to Kneupper and emphasizes
the highest recommendation.
Track Listing and Ratings
Charts the Course
Day - December 1968
Lands on the Moon
Small Step for Man
Future of Space