David Arnold is, without a doubt, one of the most fun composers in movies. He has a wicked, often dry wit — and yet takes his job very seriously. His five James Bond scores (from Tomorrow Never Dies to Quantum of Solace) took the series in new musical directions while maintaining a stylistic link with the classic John Barry scores of old. He was exceedingly generous during the writing of my Bond music book, giving me an entire day to discuss his music (and this was the morning after his stellar performance at Barry’s memorial concert in London). Here is a story I wrote in the aftermath of his acceptance of BMI’s highest award, when he was preparing to be musical director for the closing ceremonies of the London Olympics. And here is another, from 2002, that I wrote for BMI about his third 007 score, Die Another Day.
BMI asked me to profile Alan Silvestri during the summer of 2010. He was just about to start music for The A-Team, but I was anxious to talk about the role of technology in a film composer’s life, his wonderful Christmas carol for Andrea Bocelli — and the unique thing about Silvestri, which was the fact that he also owns a successful winery. (And those wines have won numerous industry awards.)
My love affair with Rachel Portman’s music dates back to the 1990s with scores like Emma, The Joy Luck Club and The Cider House Rules. She is a thoughtful, intelligent and wonderfully melodic composer, and her 2010 win of BMI’s career achievement honor was a chance to write about her work. Here is an overview of that night’s festivities and here‘s my piece for BMI that gave me a chance to quote such director collaborators as Doug McGrath, Wayne Wang and Robert Benton. In addition, here is a piece I wrote in 2005 about her opera based on The Little Prince.
Aaron Zigman, the multi-talented composer and arranger, has scored movies ranging from The Notebook to The Bridge to Terabithia. Here’s a look at Zigman and the unusual background that led him into films.
This was my first chance to meet composer Teddy Shapiro, who negotiates the very delicate path of scoring movie comedy better than almost anyone. His work on films like The Devil Wears Prada, Tropic Thunder and Marley & Me fascinated me. This was published in the BMI magazine MusicWorld. He has since been kind enough to speak to my scoring-program classes at USC.
Harry Gregson-Williams received BMI’s top honor in 2006, giving me a chance to review his career and include some salient quotes from directors whose films he has immeasurably enhanced. Harry’s Venice, Calif., studio was a marvel, and it was great fun to interview him there. Harry came up through the Zimmer ranks at Media Ventures and takes his job seriously — although not too seriously. He’s always fun to talk with. Here’s a review of the ceremony itself, which also saw a major award to TV composer Earle Hagen.
This was my first interview with Clint Mansell, who came out of British rock to become Darren Aronofsky’s go-to guy for music, creating a now iconic score for Requiem of a Dream and who was then working on The Fountain.
All those years covering this field and this was my first chance to meet Randy Edelman, whose music I’d been hearing since the days of MacGyver. He was about to win BMI’s Richard Kirk Award, so it was a wonderful opportunity to revisit such scores as Gettysburg, Come See the Paradise, Last of the Mohicans and The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. Directors Rob Cohen, Ivan Reitman and Ronald Maxwell are also quoted. And here’s another favorite piece, a Los Angeles Times story from 2002 explaining why Edelman’s obscure, cancelled-Fox-series theme wound up becoming famous for its use in Olympics telecast.
Thomas Newman accepted BMI’s highest honor, the Richard Kirk Award, in 2000. It was the perfect time to revisit a number of career highlights, and to quote several of his collaborators including Sam Mendes (American Beauty), Frank Darabont (The Green Mile), Gillian Armstrong (Little Women) and Jon Avnet (Fried Green Tomatoes) — and to talk with Tom about the famous Newman legacy and his own circuitous path to film-music success.