The Herald Magazine - - Arts MUSIC -


If you’re a film afi­cionado or a clas­si­cal con­cert-goer, chances are that at some point in re­cent years you have at­tended a film screen­ing with live or­ches­tral ac­com­pa­ni­ment or a con­cert fea­tur­ing a pro­gramme of iconic movie scores.

Film mu­sic has be­come big box of­fice busi­ness and, over the last few years, we in Scot­land have been spoiled for choice – the BBC SSO de­voted a week­end to the mu­sic of Bernard Her­rmann, the John Wil­son Orches­tra vis­its ev­ery win­ter with songs from the great mu­si­cals and all the film fes­ti­vals tend to in­clude some sort of cel­e­bra­tion of movie mu­sic.

But it wasn’t al­ways thus. In the 1990s, af­ter a se­ries of an­nual screen­ings of silent movies with mu­sic per­formed by the RSNO, and con­ducted by com­poser Carl Davis, some­thing mag­i­cal hap­pened: Hol­ly­wood it­self be­gan to come to Glas­gow thanks to record pro­ducer Robert Town­son, who came to work with the RSNO to pro­duce de­fin­i­tive record­ings of im­por­tant scores from Hol­ly­wood his­tory.

No­body who wit­nessed the movie gi­ant Elmer Bern­stein con­duct­ing his own, ma­jes­tic and catchy mu­sic for The Mag­nif­i­cent Seven or his exquisitely del­i­cate and be­guil­ing themes for To Kill a Mock­ing­bird at one of his birth­day con­certs with the RSNO in 1997 and 2002 could for­get how thrilling it was to be in the pres­ence of Hol­ly­wood his­tory.

Town­son re­calls that, on the day the RSNO was to record To Kill a Mock­ing­bird, its first Bern­stein work, the com­poser was “trot­ting to the podium when the horn sec­tion started play­ing The Mag­nif­i­cent Seven theme”, much to his de­light.

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