Ruth Mendelson

Assistant Professor
Affiliated Departments

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Career Highlights
  • Award-winning composer, producer, arranger, and/or music director for theatrical film, documentary and television productions on HBO, Discovery, Disney, Animal Planet, the Smithsonian, PBS, ABC, NBC, and others
  • Producer of podcasts and audio books featuring elaborate soundscapes, most recently Jane Goodall's updated classic, My Life with the Chimpanzees (premier release: fall 2017)
  • Location sound engineer for U.S. and international documentaries, most recently in spring 2017 when recording location sound on the high plains of Mongolia for the documentary film series Mongolian Chronicles; will also score the series in spring 2018
  • Member of One Human Family (OHF) international gospel choir and has been on several tours in Europe, India, and Brazil; OHF performed at the United Nations opening ceremony in Geneva, Switzerland
  • Featured multi-instrumentalist on a variety of recordings produced in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, as well as in Europe and India
  • Founder (in partnership with Jane Goodall) of Eagle Vision Initiatives, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the community via the arts
  • Keynote speaker, author, and humanitarian
  • Instruments include piano, keyboard, bass, drums, guitar, and flute
  • Emmy nominee
  • American Documentary Showcase award winner
  • New York Times Critic's Pick: Film Composer

The following awards were won more than once:

  • Cine Award
  • Telly
  • CINDY, Cinema in Industry
  • Golden Eagle
  • Hugo
  • ITVA Golden Slate Award
  • Time Inc. Health FREDDIE Award
  • NHIA, National Health Information Award
  • NCFR, National Council on Family Relations, first place
  • Parent’s Guide Award
  • Will Solimene Award of Excellence
  • HeSCA, Health Sciences Communications Association
  • B.M., Berklee College of Music
In Their Own Words

"All we can really do as teachers is to help our students become life learners. They need factual, tangible knowledge, but the truth is, those facts are probably going to change in a couple of years. It's important to have the confidence and the innate ability to learn, to grow, to adapt, and to change, so I encourage students to be willing to stretch in terms of applying their talents in new and innovative ways."

"There is nothing as gratifying as watching the creative spark flourish in my students. When they work hard, a window opens into a completely different realm of music where they begin to hear things they've never heard before. There is nothing in the world like being in that centered place, where ideas are just ripe for the picking. That's the beauty of trusting—in oneself, in the creative process, and in the music itself. The music is bigger than anybody; our job is to stay out of its way."

"It's important to understand what it is to cultivate the human imagination. Imagination without craft is just entropy. Craft without imagination is just mechanics. To create is to remain open and teachable; it is an act of receiving. If our only references are what we see physically before us, it's not a full picture. Part of what it means to be a visionary is to look beyond that."

"I want my students to learn to trust their intuition. I've gotten all my major breaks by trusting my intuition; plus, life provides a magic of its own. The Amazing Jellies CD came about after I scored the music for a jellyfish exhibit. I only decided to release a CD after getting email requests from all over the world. It's now being used in hospitals, even helping kids in autism clinics. Never in a million years would I have thought that the soundtrack would be used in that way."

"When the universe gives us these assignments, the question is, do we have the courage and vision to follow through? As I was making Well Wishes and Blessings—a CD of kids in the U.S. talking honestly to kids in Iraq, cutting through the war zones—I kept getting told it was impossible. But my intuition told me I had to do it. Now infants are being airlifted out of Baghdad to India for surgery because that CD connected medical communities. That's the magic of life I'm talking about."

"One of the greatest reasons for having talent is to be of service to others, so I want my students to trust their intuition and imagination to come up with ways to make a living within that. Part of creative conviction is to understand: Who are you really? What are you doing on this earth? These are very big questions, but with the privilege of being an artist comes the responsibility to address them. Otherwise, how do you grow into yourself?"