News and Features

The DSO Goes Hollywood — in a Big Film-Score Kinda Way

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra announced today that it will present a two-year, pops concert series that will feature  DSO-commissioned world-premiere works plus multi-media retrospectives by five leading film composers — and Sir Anthony Hopkins.  “The Masters of Film Music” are James Newton Howard (The Dark Knight), George Fenton (Gandhi), Theodore Shapiro (Tropic Thunder), Michael Giacchino (Up), Harry Gregson-Williams (The Chronicles of Narnia)  and Hopkins, who has composed and conducted scores for a number of films recently. The Hopkins evening will be an “All-Time Great Music of Film” concert, which will include Hopkins himself. Hopkins’ new work will be conducted by DSO music director Jaap van Zweden. Howard, Fenton and Giacchino will conduct their own world premieres.

Tickets will go on sale in February.

If anything, the series is an achievement in scheduling and finagling. The series will be split between the 2010 Pops concert season and the 2011 Pops concert season. Onstage at today’s press conference in the Meyerson Symphony Center, van Zweden congratulated DSO Chief Marketing and Entertainment Officer Stephen Cook for putting together the entire undertaking. Also onstage with Cook and van Zweden were three of the composers, Fenton, Shapiro and Gregson-Williams.

When asked what kind of music he was thinking for this new work — whether he would stick with his film-score traditions or venture into something more ambitiously orchestral — George Fenton said that he felt part of the purpose behind the series was to honor the industry he works in. Nonetheless, he said, the commission clearly would demand something extra. Without a film to distract the eyes or inspire his composition,  “There’s nothing to hide behind.”

Gregson-Williams said that no limits had been imposed on the composers — in length or in size of orchestra or chorus. In fact, he was impressed by the presence of the giant Lay Family organ in the Meyerson and was considering what could be done with it.

Not, he added, that he actually promised to use it.

“Oh, I thought it sounded like a promise,” quipped Shapiro.

The “Masters of Film Music” series could be dubbed “Everyone But John Williams” — in terms of its breadth and sweep through the movie industry. Howard is known for his big, dark, rock-’em, sock-’em action and suspense blockbusters, such as The Sixth Sense, King Kong, I am Legend and The Fugitive. He has received eight Oscar nominations.  British composer George Fenton is more the art-house specialist and thoughtful-TV master with scores for such films as Dangerous Liaisons, The Madness of King George and the TV series, The Blue Planet. Theodore Shapiro has made his career with comedies, including Marley and Me, The Devil Wears Prada and several Ben Stiller-produced films, including Blades of Glory and Dodgeball. Emmy Award-winner Giacchino has composed for landmark Pixar animation films, notably The Incredibles and Ratatouille but he’s also created the scores for Star Trek and the TV show, Lost. For his part, British composer Gregson-Williams has also composed the soundtracks for animated films (all three Shreks) and action epics like Wolverine and the forthcoming, video game-inspired, Prince of Persia.