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Volume 26, Number 5 — May 2019

Orchestral Feature Film Score Produced in Asheville

Mark Hagerling in his studio.
Mark Hagerling in his studio.

September 27, 2007

ASHEVILLE, NC — For the first time, a full orchestral score has been composed and produced in Asheville for a feature film. The film is A Dance for Bethany and the composer is Mark Hagerling, a 12-year resident of

Many films have been shot in the Asheville area, some high budget Hollywood films as well as local independent shoestring-budget films. Typically, once filming is complete, the Hollywood filmmakers head back to Los Angeles
where the film eventually finds its way into the hands of the composer, preferably someone on the "A-List" like John Williams or Danny Elfman.

Between the work of the composer, a world-class orchestra and a good sized cadre of other related music business professionals, we end up with the great sounding soundtrack that I've become accustomed to hearing.

The small independent films, on the other hand, with little to no budget for music, may be limited to a couple acoustic instruments like the guitar or banjo or to the use of a synthesizer.

Composer Mark Hagerling set his sights on composing for the film industry as far back as 1994. However, he started off breaking the Golden Rule for any aspiring film composer which is: Move to L.A. He made the decision to stay in Asheville, believing that the industry would some day follow him there.

After the last 12 years of developing and honing his skills, he finally got his chance with A Dance for Bethany. The movie was filmed entirely in Asheville and is currently playing in three different theatres.

The film's producer, Marion Williams said, "Mark produced a score that's just as good as any L.A. composer could have done."

One film critic said about the film, "It has the look and feel of a Hollywood film."

Hagerling said, "I want this film and score to send a message around the world, that we can produce world-class films, from stem to stern, from screenplay to score, right here in Asheville. We don't have to limit our films to some Western North Carolina stereotype that some people may have. The orchestra has the ability to express the widest range of emotions which is why it continues to be the first choice of most filmmakers."


Hagerling grew up surrounded by classical music and the arts. His mother was a music teacher. His father was an artist and an opera singer and they lived close to the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. As a teen he became involved in popular music and, at the age of 16, was signed as a recording artist through Terry Knight, the producer of the popular rock group, Grand Funk Railroad. Paul McCartney, of the Beatles, once commented about one of Hagerling's songs, "Sounds like something I would have written."

Hagerling continued as a songwriter and performing musician for the next 20 years. In 1992 his early interest in classical music was rekindled and he began to fill the gaps in his classical training which had been interrupted
when he entered the popular music field. And so he began the transition from songwriter to composer. In the years that followed, Mark ventured into many interesting compositional situations including writing music for a ballet production of "The Wizard of Oz," custom arranging for some of the top horses in the U.S. in the sport of dressage as well as free-standing music for orchestra and concert band.

For more information, contact Hagerling at (828) 299-9828, e-mail, or visit

A! ExtraTopics: Film, Music