The opportunity to conduct pops music is a definite perk of being a conductor. Pops music provides an excellent way to reach and connect with our audiences in a different way. This music, whether from a particular musical, band, movie, or game, provides immediate transportation to the fond memory of a past experience. For me, any piece from Robert Reiniger Meredith Willson’s “Music Man” immediately catapults me back to the orchestra pit of the Amarillo Little Theatre where I first performed as a violinist in the pit orchestra.
Conductors of all ensembles have enjoyed countless performances of popular music by composers Leroy Anderson, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein, and Andrew Lloyd Webber as well as suite arrangements by Robert Russell Bennett in collaboration with Jerome Kern and George Gershwin. My guess is that most of you have conducted more recent movie suites such as “Pirates of the Caribbean” by Hans Zimmer or “Harry Potter” by John Williams as well.
When the Everything Conducting team decided to make February our Pops month, I was super excited to dive into this music and highlight various compositions and publishing information that music directors could quickly access by underrepresented composers. However, this task was trickier than I thought.
To start this process, I delved into several articles written about film music and several websites. Two particular articles by Laura Studarus (Shondaland, Feb 7, 2020) and Tim Greiving (New York Times, 1/10/2019) helped focus my search but also broach the subject of “balance” concerning disparity in the music in the film industry. The website Maestra, compiled by Shoshana Greenberg, has a mission to provide “online resources and partnerships that aim to promote equality of opportunity and address many historical disadvantages and practices that have limited women composers and musicians in the musical theatre.” It proved to be an excellent resource as well as an informative timeline of female composers on Broadway.
My original plan for this article was to offer various Pop titles, instrumentation, and links to publishing information for easy access for your Pop’s programming. However, what I found is that access to this music is not readily available. In fact (and to my surprise), I found that publishing concert music based on movies or games is simply not that practical or lucrative. What I discovered after numerous conversations was that unless there are dozens of ensembles willing to perform this music, publishing costs are too prohibitive.
As a result, for this 10 x 10, I am offering a slightly different approach. Included below is a list of Pops composers with two or three links of their movie music (so you can get a flavor for their style of writing). Then, if I was able to find other music available for performance, I include my usual pertinent information.
Though I enjoy conducting a variety of Pops repertoire, the publishing aspect (in addition to all of the rules that go along with both the rental and performance of these works) are new to me. After working on this article, I sincerely look forward to diving a little deeper on this subject and letting you know what I find out!
Entries will follow the following format:
1. Composer Name (hyperlink to additional info about the composer)
Title of Musical, Movie, or Game (hyperlink to additional info)
Instrumentation (if available)
Rental information (if available)
Title of Composition
Link to rental information via publisher or composer
Movie Score: Tristan and Isolde Sound link: Tristan’s Final Stand
Movie Score: Poldark: Sound link: Suite from Poldark
From movie: Dear White People Sound link: Coco’s Theme
Concert Piece: The Great Migration: A Symphony in Celebration of August Wilson (2018)
188.8.131.52 - 184.108.40.206 - timp+3, pf, hp, gtr – strings
Concert Piece: Delights and Dances (2007)
solo string quartet & string orchestra
Concert Piece: Urban Legends
String Quartet and 3(Pic).2.2.2 - 220.127.116.11 - timp+4, hp – strings
Concert Piece: Endangered (2012)
3.3(EH).3(bcl).1(cfg) - 4.3.1(b trb).1 - timp+2, hp, pf – strings
From TV Show: The Bad Seed Sound link: Main Title
From TV Show: Desolation Sound link: Magnificent 7 Demo (complete)
Concert Piece: 1001 for Orchestra and Electronics (2019)
3(P).3(EH).3(bcl).3(cfg) – 18.104.22.168 – timp+4, hp, pf – strings
Concert Piece: Sirens for Orchestra (2008)
3(P).3(EH).3(bcl).3(cfg) – 22.214.171.124 – timp+1, hp, pf – strings
Concert Piece: The Glorious Garden “Lily” (2018)
1.1(EH).1.1 - 126.96.36.199 - 2 perc, hp, pf – strings
Angela Morley (1924 – 2009)
From movie: Watership Down Sound link: Original Soundtrack
CODA: I would LOVE to find more performable pieces by these composers!
Elisabeth Lutyens (1906 – 1983)
From movie: Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors. Sound link: Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors
From movie: The Skull Sound link: The Skull part 1
Shirley Walker (1945 – 2006)
From movie: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm Sound link: Theme
From movie: Final Destination Sound link: Main Theme
From movie: Willard Sound link: We Need To Go
From Netflix: Bridgerton Sound link: We Could Form An Attachment
From movie: Green Book Sound link: Thank You For the Letters