Devoted “When Calls the Heart" fans have countless scenes of the Hallmark Channel drama committed to memory. They not only know the names and lines of every cast member, but they can also even remember where a teakettle was placed, the color of Elizabeth Thornton’s dress, and of course, whether a red serge is worn correctly by Hope Valley’s new Mountie. Composer, John Sereda, is a huge part of why so many “When Calls the Heart” episodes remain memorable. The irony is that this distinguished musician didn't start out destined to score notes.

From the law library to the lure of sound

In an interview feature with the Deseret News on May 21, John Sereda related that he was “well into becoming a lawyer when music sort of took over my life.”

For the Edmonton, Alberta, Canada native, the siren call of music didn't rise from any life-changing encounter at a concert, or an epiphany in the night. Like many youths, John Sereda bought a bass guitar and joined a band.

He began helping out a friend by composing music for theater productions, and slowly, his passion was born. As with most artists, “I can't really explain it,” Sereda says of the experience.

That small start soon gave birth to creating music in “support of a larger vision” for Sereda, who has contributed crucial notes to 40 films, seven documentaries, and six dramatic series, per his website. There was a spirit to “When Calls the Heart” and its creators that drew the composer to the drama set in the rugged Northwest Territory.

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Despite his own impressive credits, John Sereda had big shoes to fill in taking the reins from the original acclaimed series composer, Lee Holdridge, after four episodes in Season 1. A call from Shona Miko, a “When Calls the Heart” postproduction supervisor, changed the future for Sereda. The musician describes that a good bit of his TV and film work was on the “dark and edgy” side (like his work on “The Inquisition”) before meeting Michael Landon Jr.

and another current showrunner, Alfonso Moreno. The hopeful vibe of the scripts immediately drew Sereda to create music, and Moreno admits that his own “teary-eyed” response to scenes was due to John Sereda’s scores. He now has a roster of 60 “When Calls the Heart” episodes, and remains “grateful for that [first] call.”

Music truly matters

Only after scenes are filmed does John Sereda start his magic.

With editing done, scenes are “locked,” and the master allows the visual components to “percolate” in his spirit before conjuring music. The composer reiterates that “screen music is powerful, and almost exclusively about feeling.” He refers to his score as “a mirror to the scene,” one that reflects the emotion of the scene back to viewers, and sweeps them up into the same emotion.

Each episode takes between 10 and 14 days to complete, complete with choosing the perfect music for the list of scene cues that Sereda makes.

In crunch situations, probably like the filming during the recent “creative hiatus,” the process is cut to seven days.

John Sereda often shares travel vistas, like a recent one from Egypt, to “When Calls the Heart” followers. For the leading lady, Erin Krakow the sentiment and spirit of the drama seem to follow her, even in a shot taken on a sidewalk.

Both the composer and the beautiful star agree that the highest compliment either can get is for fans “to continue watching and support the show,” as Sereda relates.

By that measure, “When Calls the Heart” and the music that heightens its emotional tug is sure to be staying for many seasons to come.

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