Through his work with movies, Ted Hinckley knows well the impact of music.
It's amazing, he says, to see a film without music and then to see it with the music added. "I've seen first-hand how it all comes together, and through that experience, I know that music has incredible power."
In his film-scoring work, Hinckley has been particularly drawn to classical music. "Of all music, that has stood the test of time. I've worked a lot with pop music, but you find it is often fleeting. What was popular one year is gone the next."
Classical music works nicely for film scores, he says. "This is stuff that has already passed the test."
But as he began looking for classical music to use in music, he had difficulty finding just what he wanted. So, he began doing some recordings of his own. "I found that new recordings sounded a lot better than what I could license."
He went to Prague for his first recordings, working with the City of Prague Philharmonic, which turned out to be less expensive than doing it here. "My idea was to build a library of classical music that could be used in films," he says.
But what started as a personal library of music has grown into a larger project. "Bob Ahlander at Deseret Book heard about what I was doing, and he came up with the idea of putting some of the music on CDs. He thought it would be nice to focus on some of the more peaceful selections."
The result is a four CD collection of "Classics for Sunday Morning." Handel, Bach and Mozart each have their own CD, plus there is one piano piece that draws from a number of other composers. The discs include well-known pieces as well as some that may be less well-known to many listeners.
It has been an incredible project, Hinckley says, not only because he has been able to go to Prague about 40 times since 2000, but also because "I have really come to love and appreciate these composers. I truly feel they were inspired men, who created inspired music."
Hinckley has also met many musicians who "play with inspiration. The city of Prague loves Mozart in particular, and you can feel that love when the orchestra plays his work. They play him incredibly well."
Hinckley also knows that listening to the music can be inspiring. So, he says, "there's a whole chain of inspiration, and being part of it has been an amazing experience."
Over the past 20 years, Hinckley has been involved with some 67 movies, working both locally and at times in Los Angeles.
He grew up with music in the home — "my parents played a lot of classical music, and the Texaco Opera was always on" — and he played trumpet and French horn in school orchestras. But he didn't plan on making music or film scoring in his life.
"I was going to go to law school. But after I returned from my mission and was at BYU, I found an apartment over a studio. I could live there free if I worked in the studio, so I started messing around with music."
He met Kurt Bestor and Sam Cardon, who were beginning their own film-scoring careers at that time. "And the computer was just coming in. I learned how that worked, and that led to other relationships. I did some engineering. I learned music editing for film. The Sundance Institute was just starting up, and I became an assistant engineer at their lab, where I got to work with some of the biggest names they brought in."
Hinckley became so busy, in fact, that he left school without graduating. "I did go back and finish in 1999, and I'm very glad I did, especially now that I'm a father. It'll be easier to get my kids to go to college," he says jokingly.
His first trip to Prague was in 2000. "I went the first time for the price, but I've kept going back because of the talent. They are incredible musicians." That's not to say there isn't a lot of talent locally. "I work with a lot of musicians here and love them, too. But I've developed relationships in Prague that work really well for what I do."
For example, one of the pianists on the piano CD played the young Mozart in the movie "Amadeus." "He's now known as a Scarlatti expert."
Music is never far away in Prague, Hinckley says. "The city is about the same size as Salt Lake, but every night you can find about three operas and two symphonies and 10-20 other things going on. There are lots of chamber groups. And when you ride the subway, you always see musicians carrying their instruments. Music is a deep part of the culture."
In fact, he says, sometimes the hall where the City of Prague Philharmonic plays "is so busy, the only time we could book it was from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. Being in an empty concert hall at 2 a.m., there's a bit of 'Phantom of the Opera' feel to that. Especially when we're recording Bach on the organ there."
Hinckley hopes the first four CDs will be followed up with more. He'd love to do some of the Czech composers, such as Smetna and Dvorak, as well as Beethoven, Brahms and others.
What he really hopes for, he says, are discs that "families can listen to and enjoy together."
He believes his film-scoring background is an asset in creating accessible music. "These are mixed as film scores. I really believe that if Mozart were alive today, he would be scoring films. That would be the best way to reach a lot of people."
He thinks is it important for young people to be exposed to classical music. "If they grow up listening to it, they will feel its power."
And, he says, the circle of inspiration will be perpetuated for another generation.