Hollywood music star returns to alma mater and hometown

Former Coug has been involved in music for major motion pictures

BLAINE ROSS, Evergreen reporter

Once upon a time in a galaxy far far away from Pullman, Paul Henning was a WSU Cougar.

“I actually grew up in Pullman and went to Pullman High School and went to WSU 94-98 before moving to LA in 1999,” he said. “I came back to Pullman quite recently because I come back to Pullman twice a year for Christmas and Fourth of July. I haven’t been back though when students were here, so it’ll be kind of exciting.”

Musician and composer Paul Henning with give several lectures for WSU students.

Henning has strayed far from his roots as a Cougar and has made it in Hollywood, working on projects, such as “The Fantastic Four,” “Frozen,” “Moana,” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” Henning’s most recent projects have been composing music for documentaries and helping John Williams create the music for Star Wars Episode VII.

Henning has worked on more than 50 feature films and has worked on concert suites from major films such as “The Passion of the Christ,” “Spiderman” and “Peter Pan.”

When asked about what it’s like to work on more high-profile projects like the “Star Wars” films, he said that the stakes get higher.

“The expectations get higher and the deadlines get worse,” he said. “The demand for accuracy is much, much higher, but it doesn’t really feel that much different.”

Not only has Henning been successful in the film world as a composer and an arranger, but he has also been successful in the classical music world, arranging music that has been performed by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, LA Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony and the London Symphony.

After all of this success, Paul is coming to the Palouse in a true homecoming manor, having grown up on a 125-year-old wheat farm just outside of Pullman.

He will discuss life as an LA studio musician and composer at 3:10 p.m. Wednesday in the Kimbrough Music Building, Room B48. He will put on an entrepreneurial and networking workshop at 11 a.m. Thursday in the Kimbrough Music Building, Room 115. And finally, Henning and the WSU Symphony Orchestra will be play music from his debut album “Breaking Through” at 8 p.m. Thursday in Bryan Hall Theater.

“The intention of the event organizers are to have me tell the story of how I went from being in Pullman to going to LA, where I knew no one and eventually working on projects like Star Wars,” he said.

In his talk Monday, he said he plans to discuss the twists and turns involved in going from knowing nobody and then working on these major pictures.