- For Stage and Screen: A Conversation with Howard Shore
Good afternoon, and welcome to Part II of “A Conversation with Howard Shore.”1 Again, our moderator is NYU artist faculty Paul Chihara. Dr. Chihara founded the UCLA Film Scoring program, has composed scores for ninety motion pictures and television shows, as well as having sustained a rich career as an award-winning concert composer.
Our guest of honor today is Howard Shore, who continues to be one of the most individual, influential, and diverse compositional voices for well over forty years. He has composed freely across the array of musical genres from jazz to classical to pop, for film, live television, and live performances as conductor, player, and bandleader. His body of film works are extraordinarily diverse from The Silence of the Lambs2 to Mrs. Doubtfire3 to Ed Wood4 to The Lord of the Rings.5 Howard has collaborated with David Cronenberg6 on fifteen of the director’s films including Videodrome,7 The Fly,8 and Naked Lunch.9 His compositions for [J.R.R.] Tolkien’s10 world of The Lord of the Rings11 and The Hobbit12 stand as his most acclaimed to date, awarding him three Oscars, four Grammys, and two Golden Globes. He was one of the original creators of Saturday Night Live,13 having composed its theme music, and served as musical director for that show for the first five years.
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Other film works include Hugo,14 The Departed,15 Gangs of New York,16 and After Hours17 all for director Martin Scorsese.18 For Jonathan Demme,19 he scored The Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia.20 Other scores include Se7en,21 Big22 (you may recall Tom Hanks), and the Academy Award-winning Spotlight.23 His opera The Fly24 premiered at [End Page 3] the Théatre du Châtalet in Paris and at the Los Angeles Opera. Other concert works include the piano concerto Ruin and Memory25 for the world-class pianist Lang Lang26 in 2010; the cello concerto Mythic Gardens27 for Sophie Shao28 in 2012; and the song cycle A Place Upon the Ruins29 for mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano30 in 2014.
Howard, your music and compositional ethos have had an ongoing impact on our NYU Screen Scoring program and students over many years—and a number of our graduates have been fortunate to work for you over these past twenty years. I am delighted to welcome you back to NYU [applause]. Let’s begin with some of Mr. Shore’s music for the screen. I would introduce this initial film, but there is surely no one who will not know what this is, so shall we simply run the clip?
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) – The Lighting of the Beacons (46:35–49:53)]
So welcome, Howard and Paul.
Thank you. Thank you for the introduction.
I myself requested that we begin with Lord of the Rings—not that you haven’t done ten million other things— but, of course, if we don’t have that to begin with, I think we’d all—myself included—be very disappointed and you chose a magnificent moment. Even in the theater as I watched it, I remember being thrilled by those choices and the music is terrific. I wish all my composition students would emulate your orchestration style, one of the few composers in Hollywood that does his own orchestration. Certainly, you could afford to have a whole team of people, but it’s so much better when you do it because of your background and your breadth. Anyway, it’s a pleasure to be able to speak with you and to talk to you and tell you how much I like your music.
Thank you, Paul. Thank you for the suggestion. That wasn’t actually on my list of clips to show today, but Paul wanted...