harry gregson-williams talk, barbican cinema

Harry Gregson-Williams
Harry Gregson-Williams

Me and my lovely mate were meant to be going to see In The Beginning Was The End at Somerset House last week, but someone forgot to book the tickets!  I have to book to go and see that on my own now, as there only seem to be single tickets left.

Anyway, we already had the evening booked out together, so decided to see what else was on that night.  There was a talk on at the Barbican by a film composer – not the normal kind of thing we would have gone to, but we’ve been going to a lot of silent films over the past couple of years, and so film music has started to have a little more relevance to us.  and we’re both members of the Barbican, so it was just over £8…you can’t go wrong really, can you?

At first, we felt a little fraudulent – Harry Gregson-Williams (who I had never heard of) actually attended the Guildhall School, which is next to the Barbican, and I think the majority of the audience were budding musicians and many hopeful composers.

And us.

On the stage was a beautiful piano, a 16-piece choir, electric violinist Hugh Marsh and a huge amount of ‘mixing kit’.

Any discomfort we felt about being intruders soon disappeared when Harry started speaking.  His passion shone through and he was absolutely fascinating, as well as coing across as a thoroughly likeable chap.

Although he now resides in LA, he is originally from Sussex, and is an ex-choirboy.  He came across as a kind of cross between Hugh Grant and Eddie Izzard, and I don’t quite know what that might conjur up for you – but it was all good, honestly (and it helps that he was rather cute to look at too!) 😉

His scores include the entire Shrek series, the Chroniclaes of Narnia 1 & 2, Bridget Jones Edge of Reason, Arthur Christmas, the Total Recall remake, Cowboys & Aliens, Flushed Away and Gone Baby Gone (which I finally watched last weekend – brilliant film, and have only just seen that he did that score too!)

He gave little demonstrations of how he goes about composing, and played same scenes from the films, playing some of the soundtrack live, explained a lot of the process and relayed a lot of vignettes of his experiences.

I was really moved by his tales of Tony Scott who he seemed to work with a lot, and obviously held in high regard before his sudden suicide last year.

And then he played a scene from a film that I have always cried at, and always been annoyed with myself for crying at – the kidnap scene from Man On Fire, which is inexplicably a firm favourite film of mine.

His explanation of all the layers in the music for that scene that he put in, far from making it seem less impactful had the total opposite effect.  Especially as I had forgotten that the starting music is Debussy’s Clair De Lune which I chose for my uncle’s funeral last year.

So, I sat in a packed theatre, during a fascinating talk, watching a 3 minute clip of a film with tears rolling down my face.

Dead classy!

Anyway, it was a brilliant evening, totally different to anything I have been to recently (or maybe ever) and I will definitely look out for more interesting talks going on, even if I have never heard of the person speaking!


2 thoughts on “harry gregson-williams talk, barbican cinema

Add yours

  1. Interesting piece and great value.for money.

    I agree with your comments about Msn on Fire: a very endearing film with a big rewatch factor. For me the best thing we e had from Tony Scott.

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