One of the most significant developments in the music community this year has been the advancement of women composers active in the visual media. For the lead story in this week’s special Contenders edition of Variety, I interviewed four composers with films opening in the last quarter — Anne Dudley (Elle), Lesley Barber (Manchester by the Sea), Mica Levi (Jackie) and Heather McIntosh (Rainbow Time), at least two of whom may well be up for honors during the coming awards season. I also report the shocking statistics about female composers scoring studio films; and interviewed composer and new Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences governor Laura Karpman and leading music supervisor Tracy McKnight about the strides being made, and what still needs to be accomplished in order to even out the playing field.
It’s rare that a dramatic score for a television series becomes a full partner in the storytelling process. That’s one of the reasons I have so enjoyed Anne Dudley’s music for Poldark, the period drama currently playing on PBS’s Masterpiece series (which has already become a sensation in the UK after the BBC aired it earlier this year). Dudley, who was also responsible for the delightful music for another British TV classic, Jeeves & Wooster, talked with me about the Cornish folk-music roots of her score for Poldark — and why the violin plays such a key role.