Jonathan Elias is a multi-talented music industry veteran, as an Emmy Award-winning composer, advertising innovator, accomplished musician, and respected record composer. Driven by a love of all music, Jonathan remains committed to his original goal: to create music that moves, motivates and inspires.
At age six Jonathan began playing piano and was composing original pieces by age twelve, inspired by rock music, Broadway musicals, Béla Bartók, Igor Stravinsky, and Sergei Rachmaninoff. Aspiring to become a classical composer and conductor, he entered the Eastman School of Music before attending Bennington College. While still in school, Jonathan began to realize his goals by scoring the trailers for Alien, Blade Runner, Gandhi and Back to the Future – portending things to come.
In 1980, Jonathan teamed with his brother Scott to form the music and advertising firm Elias Associates – later to become Elias Arts. The company’s early success put it at the forefront of modern advertising innovations, including the crunching theme behind MTV’s “Moon Landing,” the Columbia Pictures logo theme, the first sound mark for Apple Computers, and the recognizable Yahoo! yodel. Elias is renowned for its ability to grow, launch or reposition enterprises through music’s emotional power. Today, Elias Arts is one of the world’s most honored music, sound design and audio identity production companies with over 700 major industry awards worldwide, including numerous Clios, Cannes Lions, and an Emmy Award for its Nike “Move” theme. Their clients have included AOL, MasterCard, PBS, Sony, AT&T, Honda, Intel, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Microsoft and eBay, among others.
After meeting James Bond soundtrack composer John Barry in the early 1980s, Jonathan began working with Barry on scores for films such as Jagged Edge and A View to a Kill. During this time, Elias scored soundtracks for films like Children of the Corn, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints and most recently Fighting. Through his work with Barry, Elias began writing and producing with members of Duran Duran, making his first forays into the pop world. Elias released his first solo venture, Requiem for the Americas: Songs from the Lost World. Featuring Duran Duran as his backup band, the album includes guest appearances from Grace Jones, The Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs, Toni Childs, Michael Bolton and Jon Anderson of Yes.
In 1999, Elias followed up his debut with the nine-part choral symphony The Prayer Cycle. Written and performed in twelve different languages, the album features James Taylor, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Perry Farrell, Alanis Morrisette and Salif Keita. The album introduced Elias’ knack for arranging unusual yet affecting collaborations and ingenious genre blending. “Having worked on so many different styles of music,” Elias reflects, “I feel it’s important to cross-pollinate in my own work.” The critically acclaimed album found an audience on National Public Radio and the ABC documentary series The Century. Elias blended his classical and pop instincts for 2004’s American River, an album combining piano and string quartet compositions, featuring spoken word performances from Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson, Roseanne Cash, and Johnny Cash. The album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best New Age Album.
Jonathan’s most recent solo album, Prayer Cycle 2: Path To Zero, focuses on the making and worldwide consequences of the atomic bomb. The album continues Elias’ longtime pattern of unusual collaborations and genre mash-ups, combining rock music, theatre and contemporary classical music. “With every succeeding project, as I work in various contexts in the music industry, I think I’m continuing to push the boundaries of what can be done with collaboration and combining various styles.” The album itself is a complete song cycle, featuring orchestral work, electronic music, and rock shades in both sung and spoken word performances from a star-studded set of guest artists. One track features Korn’s Jonathan Davis singing with the London Symphony Orchestra. Another track finds Sting and wife Trudie Styler reading excerpts of Richard Rhodes’ best-selling book The Making of the Atomic Bomb. An archival recording from the Doors’ Jim Morrison finds the singer reading a poem about the plight of Native Americans – whose land was violated during the creation of the atomic bomb in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Other contributors include Robert Downey, Jr., Salif Keita, Rahat Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Sinead O’ Connor, and System of a Down’s Serj Tankian. The album’s music was entirely composed and produced by Elias.
Whether pushing the limits in his own compositions, advertising work for globally recognized brands or movie soundtracks, Jonathan Elias continues to be an impressive role model for how much can be accomplished in today’s music world.
The Jonathan Elias Series for EVO consists of an initial seven albums available exclusively from FirstCom Music. Utilizing his unique ability to “score” emotions and perfectly complement a picture, the seven albums deliver the essence of the Elias sound and style for high-end advertising, film, documentary and emotional storytelling.