Last year, BAFTA inaugurated its Conversations with Screen Composers series, which proved a popular one: it’s always nice to see industry groups highlighting its artists outside an awards context, particularly in a forum that’s open to the public. Rachel Portman, the first woman to win a scoring Oscar, was the most prominent of three composers whose work was discussed and performed in a showcase at London’s iconic Royal Albert Hall. The format was successful enough that it’s being repeated this year with two significant film composers: Dario Marianelli and George Fenton.
Of the two, Marianelli has been in the spotlight a little more of late. Earlier this year, the 50-year-old Italian composer racked up his third Oscar nomination for his ornate orchestrations in Joe Wright’s “Anna Karenina,” which also landed him his second BAFTA nod. Yes, the American Academy has been a little kinder to Marianelli than the British one: BAFTA passed over his lovely “Pride and Prejudice” score in 2005, and while he won the Oscar for his clever, typewriter-interpolating “Atonement” score in 2007, he’s still waiting for his first win from the Brits. (BAFTA’s music branch, somewhat surprisingly, preferred “La Vie en Rose” that year.)
Anyway, BAFTA’s making up for it now: on November 25, he’ll take the stage at the Albert Hall’s Elgar Room to discuss his career at an evening event punctuated by live performance and film clips. Count on hearing his Joe Wright collaborations in some detail, but I hope room is made for his less widely celebrated work — including what I maintain is his career-best (if wholly unrewarded) score for Cary Fukunaga’s 2011 “Jane Eyre.” Among other titles, Marianelli’s upcoming work includes the score for Paul Haggis’s Toronto-bound “Third Person.”
It’s been a little longer since George Fenton’s golden period. The 62-year-old, London-born composer racked up five Oscar nominations — for “Gandhi,” “Cry Freedom,” “Dangerous Liaisons” and “The Fisher King” — in the decade between 1982 and 1991. There have been fewer notable film credits of late (can you hum the score for “The Bounty Hunter,” by any chance?), though Terry Gilliam’s Venice-bound “The Zero Theorem.” Some of Fenton’s most distinguished recent work, however, has been on the small screen, with his scoring of assorted David Attenborough series (most recently “Frozen Planet”) earning him Emmys. TV has earned him three BAFTAs; he has yet to win one for film. His BAFTA event, meanwhile, will be on September 23.
More details on the events can be found on the BAFTA website here.