Movie music in the concert hall seems to be, as they say, “trending” — it’s more popular than ever, and in many different forms. For the lead story in this week’s Variety “Music for Screens” section, I interviewed three composers (David Newman, who recently conducted the New York Philharmonic in sold-out Star Wars shows ; Ramin Djawadi, whose Game of Thrones tour was so successful he’s planning another; and Hans Zimmer, whose European and American tours transformed the traditional “film music” show into more of a rock concert); and three producers, including Steve Linder and Jamie Richardson from Film Concerts Live! and Richard Kraft, who has produced a number of concerts of Danny Elfman and Disney films.
A new film on the craft of creating music for movies, Score: A Film Music Documentary, opens this weekend in New York (and next weekend in Los Angeles). It features new interviews with composers including Hans Zimmer, John Powell, Quincy Jones, Brian Tyler, John Debney, David Arnold, Rachel Portman and others; footage from earlier films featuring John Williams and Thomas Newman; and commentary from critic Leonard Maltin, agent Richard Kraft, Disney executive Mitchell Leib, record producer Robert Townson, director James Cameron, and many more. I am on camera from time to time to offer historical perspective. Filmmaker Matt Schrader filmed numerous scoring sessions in Los Angeles and London, and the result is a fast-moving, illuminating look at the art and business of movie music. You’ll see me in the trailer, which is here along with the New York Times‘ rave review.
For the second installment of the American Youth Symphony’s “Danny Elfman Project,” I interviewed Elfman’s longtime agent Richard Kraft and author Jeff Bond (Danse Macabre) after a performance of the composer’s “Overeager Overture.” The evening concert offered a wide-ranging selection of Elfman music including Milk, Alice in Wonderland, Big Fish and Spider-Man, all brilliantly conducted by David Newman (seen here at right).
One of the most contentious, and complex, issues facing Hollywood studio musicians is the role that the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) plays in their lives. If a movie production company or studio isn’t legally bound to score in Hollywood (only major studios and networks are), then they often choose to go overseas to record their music. A growing number of musicians are unhappy about this, and many are urging the AFM to agree to concessions in order to keep more recording work in L.A. This story reports what many had to say at a meeting in Santa Monica in late 2012. (The headline, incidentally, is misleading; it’s not so much about the composers but rather about the musicians who play the music.) And here’s a followup story from January 2013 on the issue.
The third and final installment of the American Youth Symphony’s three-year “Goldsmith Project,” saluting the music of Jerry Goldsmith, was in many ways the best yet. The afternoon symposium began with a new 10-minute suite from Under Fire (1983), after which I moderated a panel with frequent Goldsmith collaborators Joe Dante and David Anspaugh plus longtime music editor Kenneth Hall, mixer Bruce Botnick and agent Richard Kraft. Conductor David Newman debuted, for the first time ever in concert, music from Jerry’s Legend (1985) as well as a new 10-minute suite from Poltergeist (1982). Here is a thorough rundown of the Sunday program; the symposium was sponsored by The Film Music Society.