College Faculty: Jazz Composition
Chris Hajian is a composer, trumpet player and educator based in New York City. His artistic world involves storytelling and expressing himself through the compelling mediums of film composition and jazz. His love for education led him to New York University where he teaches private compositions lessons and scoring techniques to students spanning across several musical styles and backgrounds.
Born and raised in Queens, New York, Chris Hajian began his musical education at the age of five, studying trumpet under his father, Edward, a professional musician in New York City. Chris’s formal training started at New York’s “Famed” High School of the Performing Arts, and continued at the Manhattan School of Music where he studied classical composition. His film composition roots began during the indie film movement of the ’90s. Most notably, he composed the score to Ten Benny starring Adrian Brody, which was selected for the 1996 Sundance Film Festival. He then composed the score for the compelling black and white drama Mr. Vincent that premiered at Sundance the following year. Other feature films of note include Yonkers Joe, directed by Robert Celestino, which starred Chazz Palminteri and Christine Lahti, as well as The Take, directed by Brad Furman, starring John Leguizamo and Rosie Perez. The film received rave reviews.
In addition to substantial Indie dramatic work, Chris continued to work in the family/adventure/comedy genre, composing many scores for popular sequels for major studios such as Inspector Gadget 2 and Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2. In 2016, Chris found himself reunited with director Brad Furman to score the feature film The Infiltrator. The film stars Bryan Cranston and Diane Kruger. It is a high stakes thriller set in the ’80s about Robert Mazur, a U.S. customs agent who uncovers a money laundering scheme involving Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. The score is a very unique blend of ’80s synths and ambient textures mixed with a string section. It is a tension-filled and very internal, emotional musical journey. The film saw a wide theatrical release on July 13th, 2016. Lakeshore Records released the full score which received much critical acclaim.
Chris has scored two seasons of the television series Start Up for Sony/Crackle, created and directed by Ben Ketai. The series stars Martin Freeman and launched in August 2016. In 2018, Chris scored City of Lies, a feature film that stars Johnny Depp and Forrest Whitaker and is directed by Brad Furman. This music-centered story investigates the murders of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls and is based on the book Labyrinth. He also scored the indie feature film Critical Thinking, directed by and starring John Leguizamo. It premiered at the 2020 SXSW Film Festival and is currently streaming on various platforms. The film has been praised by critics, has reached a large audience and has a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Chris’s most recent documentary film scores include Raul Julia The World’s A Stage (PBS Masterworks) directed by Ben DeJesus, Laddie directed by Amanda Ladd, and In Balanchine’s Classroom, directed by Connie Hochman. Laddie is a documentary about the life of iconic Hollywood producer Alan Ladd Jr. In Balanchine’s Classroom explores the glory years of George Balanchine’s New York City Ballet through the remembrances of his former dancers and their quest to fulfill the vision of a genius. Hajian’s score is a captivating modern and lyrical representation Balanchine’s quest for self expression.
Previously, he composed scores for the acclaimed feature documentary First Position, directed by Bess Kargman and Unraveled, a film about the life of corrupt lawyer Marc Dreier, directed by Marc Simon. In 2013, Chris released a compilation album of his documentary scores titled Perspectives.
In addition to his composing career, Chris was a long time steering committee member of the Society of Composers and Lyricists in NYC and was the force behind their very successful mentor program. He is also very involved in various music advocacy groups, including being a board member of The Council of Music Creators.
He has his own publishing company Moving Picture Music (ASCAP) and frequently licenses his music to film production companies while retaining his publishing share. Chris teaches film composition at New York University Steinhardt. In addition to private one-on-one lessons, he teaches Scoring Techniques, a class that connects young, bright film composers with Tisch School filmmakers.
Chris also takes on a select amount of private students outside of the university. Finding the connection through storytelling is something he is very passionate about and facilitating an open dialogue is incredibly beneficial in the development of the students. He is very proud of his students and has great joy in watching their careers grow and develop.
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