Female Composers, Where Art Thou? The lack of Female Film Composers is not a secret, it is very rare to see a Female credited for scoring a ‘huge’ movie. Debbie Wiseman says: “I think there are so few female composers in the industry for exactly the same reasons there are fewer female directors, camera operators, editors, etcetera. The media as a whole is quite male-dominated, but this is changing all the time and I’m delighted that I’m working regularly with more female producers and directors.” So, here are a few notable composers who you should most definitely know about.
Rachel Portman, an English composer who started off at the young age of 13, was the first female composer to win an Oscar, this was in 1997 for ‘Emma’. She is best known for her work on The Cider House Rules (1999), Chocolat (2000), and One Day (2011). Portman’s film scores are dominant in strings and wind instruments; the style is most prominent in Emma (1996) and Chocolat (2000). In 2010, Portman was awarded an OBE for her services to the film industry.
A British Composer; Conductor and Radio and Television Presenter. Debbie Wiseman is said to be one of the UK’s most successful female music ambassadors and was awarded an MBE in 2004 for her services to the film industry. Wiseman is known for her work on Wilde (1997), Flood (2007) and Vampire Killers (2009). She uses medieval instruments such as a Theorbo, a Vielle, a Harpsichord, and more modern instruments such as a Cor Anglais, but draws the line at a Piano, telling Sinfini music “It wouldn’t be right at all”.
American composer, Wendy Carlos has worked on Stanley Kubricks ‘A Clockwork Orange (1971) and The Shining (1980) as well as Walt Disney’s Tron (1982). Carlos is known for her use of electronic instruments to play classical music. She is an important name in the field of synthesizer music and won the SEAMUS Lifetime Achievement Award “in recognition of lifetime achievement and contribution to the art and craft of electro-acoustic music”.
Suzanne Ciani is an Italian American Pianist and Music Composer. The artist first started off recording albums in the new-age genre, using a mix of electronic and traditional instruments, she then went on composing for films such as Late Bloomers (1996), The Incredible Shrinking Woman (1981) and Mother Teresa (1986). Ciani has been nominated for many Grammy Awards and won an American Federation of Independent Music award in 2006.
Deborah Lurie, composer; string arranger and producer from Boston, Massachusetts, USA, is known for her composition work on Footloose (2011), Dear John (2010), Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (2011) and many more successful movies. Lurie was born with a condition called ‘Synesthesia’ which means she has perfect pitch and can “see” musical notes as colours, this rare ability enables her to transcribe music easier and quicker than most other musicians. Lurie combines technical knowledge with her love of popular music; she works with different genres.
English Composer and Pop Musician, Anne Dudley has worked on a number of brilliant films, including American History X (1998) and won an Oscar for Best Original Music for Comedy Score for her work on The Full Monty. As well as composing, she has worked as a music producer on films including Les Misérables (2012). Dudley has also won a Grammy, a Brit and been nominated for an Ivor Novello several times. Dudley is most probably best known for her synthpop band ‘Art of Noise’ but has worked in both the classical and pop genres.
Laura Rossi is a British composer, who was 1 of 2 women to make the shortlist for Best Original Score at the 2014 Academy Awards. She has worked on films such as Unfinished Song (2012), London to Brighton (2006), The Cottage (2008) and The Firm (2009). Rossi has written music both for Film and Television, The Eichmann Show and Song for Marion being on her list. She has quite a powerful style, and has had her music recorded and performed by many successful orchestras.