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March 24, 2014
In Person: Narnia, Shrek composer Harry Gregson-Williams
Sundance Institute presents workshop series on film scoring by Jon Burlingame

Harry Gregson-Williams

Harry Gregson-Williams

LOS ANGELES—The Sundance Institute is sponsoring a pair of presentations at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, one of which is designed to demystify the film composer's process, the other of which is aimed at the emerging composer in Hollywood.

The first, called "ComposersLab: LA On Stage" and slated for 2 p.m. Sunday, March 30, at the Annenberg Center in Beverly Hills, will feature well-known composer Harry Gregson-Williams (Shrek, The Chronicles of Narnia, Kingdom of Heaven) talking about the film-scoring process and demonstrating how he scores a film scene.

A unique feature of the session will be violinist Hugh Marsh, cellist Martin Tillman and an eight-voice choir, demonstrating some of Gregson-Williams' compositional ideas. According to Sundance film-music program director Peter Golub, Gregson will bring some of his studio equipment "so that you can see how he works, all the different independent parts" of a score as he creates it. "It's like being in his studio. He's very open and generous about sharing his process," Golub adds.

Peter Golub

Peter Golub

Gregson-Williams is expected to discuss several of his films, and talk with director Zal Batmanglij (The East) about the director-composer collaboration. Golub will moderate the session.

Also, as a means of demonstrating the different dramatic approaches possible with music, Golub will screen examples of last summer's Sundance Institute work, as the participants re-scored a scene from Ben Affleck's 2010 film The Town. Then Gregson-Williams will show the scene the way he scored it for Affleck and discuss the specifics of his own approach.

"I think people are very interested in how film music works, how it's constructed, and the nature of the conversations with the director," Golub says. "This is a part of moviemaking that people are just fascinated by." The Gregson-Williams session is an outgrowth of one he did for the Sundance Institute in London; this marks its debut in the U.S.

The second event, "ComposersLab: LA" scheduled for April 12, is a day-long workshop aimed at composers, filmmakers, students and other industry professionals. Again, Golub will present a series of panels and discussions including one on film scoring with Thomas Newman (American Beauty), John Frizzell (Ghost Ship) and Anton Sanko (Rabbit Hole), and another on TV scoring with Jeff Beal (House of Cards), Blake Neely (Resurrection) and Trevor Morris (The Borgias). In addition, BMI senior vice-president Doreen Ringer Ross will lead a panel on composer career issues.

The workshop is an outgrowth of Sundance's annual summer lab, which affords 10 lucky composers the opportunity to work with top directors and have their work critiqued by professionals. "There are a lot of fantastic poeple who, for whatever reason, don't get in," Golub notes (there are 300 applications a year). "I wanted to make a part of the program available to them in a kind of condensed version," he says.

Tickets for the March 30 event are $45, for the day-long April 12 workshop $125. More information is at www.thewallis.org and www.sundance.org/programs/composers-lab-la. BMI is supporting both events.

©2014 Jon Burlingame
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