My Week With Marilyn

By October 24, 2013No Comments

A mere month and a half ago, Conrad received an unexpected and exciting phone call from Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein to compose the music for his new film, “My Week With Marilyn.” Almost immediately the work began, as Conrad worked day and night, cue by cue. During this time I worked in an adjacent studio, helping him musically in any way needed. That included transcribing orchestra parts from MGM musicals which would be recreated in this film; writing an arrangement of “Old Black Magic”, Brazilian-style, for star Michelle Williams to sing in the film; helping Conrad finish big band cues thrown at him at the last minute when he was too tired to care; and taking a 2 bar melody he had written for Emma Watson and turning it into a full-length ballad for an “Emma/Colin date” scene. Lastly, Conrad played every cue he had written for me, asking for my input and opinion on its effectiveness in the scene as well as musicality.

When it was determined that Conrad would be conducting the orchestra at Abbey Road, he asked me to accompany him and “sit the booth”, as it is called—meaning I would be the second pair of ears listening for performance problems, note mistakes, approving takes, trouble-shooting with the director, etc.

At this point I should interject that—on top of all of these musical contributions I was making—I still had to carry on with the day-to-day duties of running a household, taking care of my 4 kids, driving, shopping, cooking, cleaning, and being the emotional support for Conrad as he navigated the sometimes rocky waters working on a high-profile Hollywood film. And of course, maintaining the goddess-like allure that Conrad attributes to me!

So….after I made arrangements for the kids while I was going to be away, I got myself ready, packed, and we headed for London.

The first session was a night of big band music, and I had a delightful surprise: one of the trumpet players had been on a “Glenn Miller reunion” tour in England with my Dad back in 1989, and he told me some very heartwarming stories. And since Conrad had presented me to the band as the daughter of a Tommy Dorsey Sentimentalist and a Glenn Miller clarinetist, I was treated like royalty.

The next two sessions were with orchestra—large string section, woodwinds, brass, percussion, piano, harp and celeste. Conrad had hired the most brilliant orchestrator in Hollywood to interpret his music—himself! The music sounded glorious—full, rich, melodic, and emotional. It couldn’t have been better received by everyone in the booth, from engineer Pete Cobbin, music supervisor Dana Sano, Director Simon Curtis, and all of the others working on the project. Conrad had a great rapport with the musicians from the podium, and most of them knew him from his previous work on “Golden Compass” and the last two “Harry Potter” films. It was clear that they were happy for his success and delighted to play such well-crafted and beautiful music.

Finally, the coup de grace was the evening appearance at Abbey Road of the well-known classical pianist Lang Lang, whom Harvey Weinstein had brought in to perform on the score, Lang Lang charmed everyone with his easy going demeanor and lack of pretentiousness. Conrad judiciously selected the solo theme passages for Lang Lang to play, which he did with great emotion and soul. His participation in this project will certainly help soundtrack sales!

In short, Conrad hit a grand slam, and as his wife, friend, and colleague in the trenches, I couldn’t have been more proud of him. He has waited so long for this opportunity, always in the background making every other composer look good with his expertise, and now, having been given the chance, he has risen to the occasion and surpassed everyone’s expectations.

Bravo to my very deserving husband! –