Hey folks - just wanted to chime in with some notes on a great concert that the wife and I experienced last week. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has a new Art & Music Series based on pieces in their permanent and special exhibitions. Last Thursday was an evening of music from the film "Pollock", which was scored by Jeff Beal. Jeff conducted and played trumpet, with an ensemble of 19 players. The first half consisted of "Pollock Suite", which was a piece that brought together the main title theme as well as the "One Man Show" theme. The other selections where actual cues from the score - with some pieces played with one of Pollock's works displayed on screen, with others performed along with the corresponding film clip. Once the first half of music was complete, there was a discussion panel with Jeff, the screenwriter (Barbera Turner) and film editor (Kathryn Himoff). It was a very interesting exchange among the panel, and the Q&A session was very informative - with a great deal of candor and openness from all participants. The Bing Theater at LACMA is a relatively small house with great acoustics and a comfortable feel. It was a really good turnout for a concert on a weekenight, and the attendees were rewarded with a evening of great music, inspiring film and artwork, as well as a dose of Jeff's good humor as he MC'd the evening.
As you would expect, the players were all top-notch. There were four violins, two violas, two cellos, one double bass, one harp, two woodwinds (including sax), trombone, a guitar/banjoist, two percussionists and a piano. Anyone that has seen "Pollock" knows that this is a film that is perfectly suited to a small ensemble score like this. There were some real surprises, both in the passages that were more overtly expressive as well as the rhythmic challenges that the score presented in some of the inner lines. The players performed as though they'd been playing the score for years - but only two were in the original ensemble that recorded the score several years ago. Bing Theater is the kind of place where you get hear *everything* that's going on in the music - and there's absolutely no place to hide. And at the same time - they were able to produce a remarkably full sound. Jeff also played trumpet solos from the conductor's position, many times after leading the ensemble through the opening statement of the cue. That was truly inspiring - to see a composer that could conduct and actually play as well as the players around him. And I think that this is one of the reasons why things were so tight - this was "musician's music" that also fit perfectly to the film - and it eminated from every player on stage.
Aside from being thoroughly enjoyable, this concert was a great learning experience - a level-set for the type of score that has a well-definied interior. Anyone who's interested in developing a film score for small to mid-sized ensemble owes it to themselves to check out "Pollock" and the rest of Jeff Beal's music. If you're not careful, you'll forget that you're learning something and will start to just enjoy the experience.
Jeff - if you're reading this - thanks for a great show, and for doing such inspiring work.
Thanks for your post, for coming (!), and great summary of the evening - I had a wonderful orchestra and we really had a good time. The most challenging part for me was conducting to picture (with no click or streamers) but we hung together w/the movie quite well--
Hey Jeff - Now that you mention it, I was surprised to see the film clips free-conducted - but the performance punctuated the hits and scene changes really well - another testament to your conducting and your players.
Scott - it's a bummer that you're so close and missed this concert. I found out about it through an event email from the Society of Composers and Lyricists - otherwise I would have missed it too. Now that we've been there, Julie and I are going to be checking out more of those concerts, and will be making our way into LACMA more often.
Boy, Jeff is a real hot property these days, with two hit shows, "Monk" and "Ugly Betty"! Way to go Jeff.
Pollock was released in 2000 - so he's not only *hot* but he creates work that "has legs".
The better half and I just discovered that the first season of "Rome" was recently made available on HBO In Demand, the score for which is another great body of work that Jeff created. We're going to stretch out watching the series again between now and the premier of season two in mid-January.
You know, I've been going back and forth with whether or not to join. Guess I should add one more "pro" to the list.
For whatever it's worth I think the SCL is a great organization - both for emerging and more established composers in Hollywood. The network of screenings and other events is really worth the cost of membership alone-