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The name's Newman … David Newman
This weekend, American conductor David Newman is bringing the music of James Bond to the Royal Albert Hall, as he conducts a live orchestral world premiere of Skyfall in Concert
Buy Tickets – Saturday 5 October – Skyfall in Concert at the Royal Albert Hall (2:30pm and 7:30pm)
Thank you for your time David - our traditional first question, where in the States are you from?
I was born in Los Angeles, California and spend most of my time there still.
You come from a very musical family - how did being part of that family inspire your approach to music?
I think it gave me my aesthetic. My Father, Alfred Newman, was my biggest influence. He was a film composing pioneer. He arrived in Hollywood in 1930 and lived and worked there until his death in 1970. He ran the 20th Century Fox Music Department for 20 years. For me, that institution was second to none. Wonderful management, musicianship, and a fantastic full time orchestra. That orchestra, for me, was the sound or IS the sound I am always looking for.
Film scores have been a prominent aspect of your career - is there something about music for film which strikes a chord for you?
It's in my family's DNA. I didn't start out my professional life wanting to be a composer. But was eventually drawn in by it. There is nothing like scoring a movie. The sense of collaboration, the orchestra, the film itself, the excitement of getting your music to work and most important, helping the film to tell it's story. It can be a glorious job when everything works.
Do you have a favorite score you've composed over the years?
I never know how to answer that question. There are several I like very much. "War of the Roses", "Heathers", "Serenity", "Galaxy Quest", "Bowfnger". But there any many others as well.
How are you feeling ahead of conducting the world premiere screening of Skyfall with full orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall?
It's always very daunting to do these projects, especially if it's a premiere. And such a wonderful film like Skyfall. And what an orchestra — the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra — that will be performing. They are truly fantastic!
What strikes you most about the music of Skyfall?
It's so original, yet with many nods to the "Bond Theme". I love the way that Thomas (Newman) weaves in and out of the theme. And some absolutely beautiful sound design - something that Thomas excels at.
Do you have a favorite piece from the film that you're looking forward to conducting?
I like all of it. I am looking forward to doing the entire film.
As an American, how does it feel conducting music to a classic British film series, in one of the most iconic British music venues?
It's absolutely thrilling to work in this iconic hall, with this superb orchestra. They really understand film music. It's truly a pleasure.
What does a live orchestra add to the film watching experience?
That's hard to describe. It's a subject that needs some thought and perspective. For me it adds "everything". The liveness of orchestra music is so profound that one's experience watching a film like this is completely different than watching in a movie theatre. The communal aspect of watching with other people and all the performers on stage - everyone there to give the audience this unique type of film viewing.
What's next on the horizon for you?
Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.
Finally, what's the best thing about being David Newman?
Hard to say. But, I guess, who else could I be? 😄