Bill Brendle (born in Santa Barbara, CA) is an award winning composer, orchestrator, arranger, producer, pianist/keyboardist, and music educator. He has had musical success in Film/Television, Theater, Recording, and Live Performance, traversing a wide musical landscape throughout his career.

A Musical Beginning

Bill began playing piano at age 3, sitting at the piano next to his father Hal Brendle (Band Director at UCSB), where they would play ear training games. Little did he know that Dad was teaching him to hear and distinguish melodic and harmonic intervals. Bill showed a natural ability for music, and a compulsion to learn, so he began taking piano lessons. But there were many other instruments in the house, and he was fascinated by the different sounds they made. Bill loved to be in the music room at home where he could play the piano, trumpet, trombone, banjo, guitar, mandolin, bass, and accordion for hours. There was also a very cool Sony 2-Track reel-to-reel tape recorder, where he would experiment making sound-on-sound recordings. These early experiences would prove to be valuable when he began studying orchestration and arranging from his father.

Education and Early Career

After 4 years of driving his High School band director crazy by playing a different instrument every year, Bill graduated from Riverside Poly High School, made a decision to focus on the piano, and set out to learn how to become a professional musician. He enrolled at Riverside Community College to study jazz with Roger Rickson. He flourished at RCC, played piano in the Jazz Ensemble, percussion in the Concert Band, and studied music theory and composition. In 1982 he earned scholarships for private lessons in piano performance and music composition, and was selected to play piano in the All-State Honor Jazz Ensemble.

After college, Bill began his career in Los Angeles as a pianist/keyboardist playing jazz/pop/rock/salsa/reggae/blues/funk (whatever had a groove) in cover bands around the city. His skills and versatility caught the attention of a group of LA studio musicians, and he began to get calls for recording sessions. In the studio, producers observed that he had the ability to quickly transcribe the recorded songs and write lead sheets, so he began to get calls from them to write charts for the sessions. He went from writing lead sheets to writing parts for the rhythm section, then added horn parts, and eventually was writing fully orchestrated arrangements for recordings and live performances. Then, a youthful wanderlust overtook him and he left LA to try living on the east coast. He stayed for three years (through 3 bitterly cold winters), continuing to perform and record while studying jazz piano with Andy LaVerne in New York. After thawing out, he returned to the much warmer west coast to attend Cal State LA where he happily played in the Jazz Ensemble under the direction of David Caffey and studied music composition and orchestration with William Hill.

Career Path (The Brazilian Connection)

Upon the completion of his time at Cal State LA, Bill moved to Japan for a year, where he performed as a pianist/vocalist and wrote jingles for a Japanese music house. While "lost in translation" in Japan (during a bitter, cold winter), he was befriended by a very warm group of Brazilian musicians who exposed him to the "real deal" Brazilian music, and he was hooked immediately. Bill dove deep into the ocean of Brazilian music and culture, and learned to speak Portuguese in order to better interpret the Brazilian groove (suinge bom). He had no idea that this crazy year writing Japanese jingles and learning all about Brazilian music and learning to speak Portuguese would forever change his life, but he would soon discover that life would be very different from then on.

Shortly after returning to California, Bill connected with the Brazilian music community in Los Angeles and was soon playing the sambas, bossas, and afro-brazilian music he had fallen in love with while living in Japan. He quickly established himself as a solid keyboardist on the LA/Brazilian scene, and connected with the energetic singer/songwriter Kátia Moraes. The two hit it off musically and they began to write songs together, with Bill's Brazilian inspired music combined with Moraes' poetic Portuguese lyrics. They teamed up with a skilled group of musicians from Brazil, India, Sri Lanka, and the USA who shared a deep affinity for Brazilian music to form the band Sambaguru. They performed together in LA and toured the USA with their energetic program for 10 years, The group released several albums including "Tribo", which made the short list for the Grammys in 1998. Brendle and Moraes' song "Não Va" won first place in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest (World Music category) in the same year.

Bill's reputation grew around LA, and after a few months of Brazilian gigs he received a call from Sergio Mendes to play keyboards for an upcoming tour to….Japan! This first tour lead to more tours with Mendes, which lead to orchestrating for Mendes' symphonic concerts with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and Los Angeles Philharmonic. Bill enjoyed working with Sergio for over a decade, and they collaborated on many recordings together, including the grammy winning Brasileiro, the latin grammy nominated Oceano, the latin grammy winning Timeless (produced by Will.I.Am.). As the assistant producer on Mendes' album Oceano, Bill traveled to Brazil and worked in the studio with Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Ivan Lins, Hermeto Pascoal, João Donato, and Guinga. While recording with Mendes, Bill was introduced to the renowned Brazilian producer/engineer Moogie Canazio, who brought Bill in to arrange and record keyboards for some of the most celebrated Brazilian artists including Simone, Sandy e Junior, Rita Lee, and Maria Bêthania.

A New Direction: Film, Television, and Theater

In the mid 90's Bill studied Film Scoring, Orchestration, and Conducting to Picture through UCLA Extensions. He began to score short films for student directors at USC and UCLA, and was soon hired as arranger/programmer by Clio Award winning composer Richard Druz. He collaborated with Druz on dozens of commercials for Nike, Suzuki, Honda, Mattel, and many other prestigious clients. This practical experience paid off in the year 2000 when he was hired to compose additional music for his first feature film, "Woman On Top" (Fox Searchlight), a romantic comedy starring Penelope Cruz as a Brazilian chef who comes to the USA (perfect assignment for BB!). His music was well received, and he subsequently went on to compose music for several more feature films from 20th Century Fox and IFC.

Then in 2003, an up and coming new show on the Fox Network called American Idol was expanding and needed orchestrators. The program's musical director Rickey Minor called Bill and asked him to join the team. The show became a sensation, and Bill continued to work on the series for 6 years (seasons 2-7). Rickey and the band then migrated to the Tonight Show on NBC (Jay Leno's second incarnation), and Bill went along with the team, where he continued arranging/orchestrating. It was during this time that he began to direct and compose music for theater productions at Viewpoint School in Calabasas, CA. He discovered that he loved the creative process and teamwork involved when creating a narrative score for live theater, and he delved deeper into the art form. He also loved working with the theater students, and was moved by their reaction to having original music in their productions.

Legendary Motown songwriter Lamont Dozier was composing music for a new musical production of The First Wives Club and looked to Bill to arrange and produce the demos for the staged readings. When the show opened at The Old Globe Theater in San Diego, Bill was on the team as the synth programmer and keyboardist. During the course of the production, he met Ron Melrose (musical director for Jersey Boys). Melrose was also putting together the musical team for a production of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (music by the Flaming Lips) at the La Jolla Playhouse in 2013, and he gave Bill his first opportunity to be on the creative team of a potentially Broadway bound show. Yoshimi was directed by Tony award winning director Des McAnuff (Jersey Boys). Bill's earned high praise for his work on Yoshimi, so a few years later when McAnuff and Melrose teamed up to create Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, they invited him to join the creative team as the Orchestrator/Music Sequencer. The show opened in the fall of 2017 at the La Jolla Playhouse, and after extending its run, was fast-tracked to Broadway. Summer (produced by Tommy Mottle and The Dodgers) opened on Broadway in the spring of 2018 at the Lunt-Fontanne theater to enthusiastic audiences. It received Tony nominations for Best Leading Actress in a Musical (LaChanze) and Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Ariana DeBose). Bill wrote the orchestrations for the cast of Summer's appearance on the Tony Awards Broadcast in 2018.