From the time he began playing the drums at five years old, Ross School alumnus Forrest Gray ’10 found comfort and joy in music. In the years since, Forrest has molded that passion, drawing on aspects of his Ross education along the way, into a career as a composer that is gaining traction.
Forrest credits two Ross institutions with inspiring him to pursue his path. Playing in Ross School’s jazz band under the direction of renowned musician Hal McKusick, who had worked with such giants in the field as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, led to discovering the art of musical composition. A film class taught by longtime Ross teacher Therese Lichtenstein connected him with composing for cinematic purposes.
“The American Cinema class with Therese Lichtenstein influenced my decision to pursue a career in film scoring,” Forrest said. “It was a renaissance in how I viewed film, because we watched classics I’d never been exposed to.” He took the class for three consecutive years, and it helped him to uncover a passion for the marriage of his two favorite things: film and music.
At 16, he was invited to submit a composition to And Everything Is Going Fine, a documentary by award-winning director Steven Soderbergh covering the career of Forrest’s late father, artist Spalding Gray. His six-minute piece “Sunset”—which Soderbergh described as elegiac yet uplifting—played during the film’s final scene and credits.
Following his graduation from Ross, Forrest earned a degree in film scoring with a minor in conducting from Boston’s Berklee College of Music, where he was awarded a prestigious BMI Student Composer Award. Since then, his work has been included in diverse venues ranging from a theater adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s Galapagos to arrangements on pop artist Mike Posner’s sophomore album At Night, Alone.
Most recently, Forrest has been creating the music for Limited Space, an animated musical series currently in development by Bento Box Entertainment, the company responsible for Bob’s Burgers and the Hulu original series The Awesomes. If all goes well, the show will be picked up by a network.
Forrest is also intent on sharing his passion for music with others, in part due to his educational inspirations. Next month, in an embodiment of Ross’s motto, “Know thyself in order to serve,” he will travel to Greece as part of ART Angels Relief Team, an organization that provides arts education to refugee children from Syria. “I have no idea what to expect,” Forrest said. “But I think there’s a moral imperative to donate some of your time to serving others if it is within your means to do so.”