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Scottish film composer to celebrate his famous scores at two upcoming shows

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Music on screen is storytelling – and in many cases is the first thing we think about when a film is mentioned. Think Jaws. See, you heard that theme in your head…

The greatest film composers can also have the scores taken off screen and played in an orchestral setting and among those is Scotland’s Patrick Doyle.

This month Patrick Doyle’s Music from the Movies sees the RSNO play selections from his scores over two nights, in Edinburgh and Glasgow, with the shows MC’d by Richard E Grant and Peter Capaldi, helping to celebrate Patrick’s considerable contribution to film music.

The National: Richard E Grant will co-host the show with Peter CapaldiRichard E Grant will co-host the show with Peter Capaldi (Image: The Herald)

There will be selections from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Brave, Murder on the Orient Express, Whisky Galore and Jack Ryan among many others.

Part of the celebration is Uddingston boy Patrick’s 70th birthday but there is more to celebrate. He feels it’s time to give something back and over the next year he will be working with the RSNO in the Composers’ Hub, where young composers have the opportunity to gain experience with real life clips in real life situations.

On Zoom from home, Patrick Doyle is friendly and open and, despite his time away from Scotland, his West of Scotland accent is as warmly gallus as ever.

He is now based in Walton on Thames, which is also the childhood home of Julie Andrews, he tells me.

Music is in the Doyle genes. Two of his daughters will be singing solos at the concerts. Even during his childhood in Uddingston it was clear Patrick had the natural ability and ear for music.

“My family is full of phenomenal singers,” he says, “absolutely full of really world-class singers. A friend of mine once called Uddingston the Naples of the North because of that!  

“My earliest memory is finding a little glockenspiel at home. It wasn’t bought for me but I would listen to the radio and play along, usually with two clothes pegs. I remember hearing Perry Como’s Catch A Falling Star and being able to play harmonies, really close thirds, without really knowing what harmonies were. I think I was four years old. So even from that age I had a very acute ear for music.”

Patrick’s childhood memories of Uddingston are more than musical, however. The Tunnock’s factory and family loomed large obviously – something that pops up in the most unlikely of places.

“Anderson Cooper from CNN interviewed me earlier this year in connection with the commission to compose the king’s coronation march. I nearly fell off my stool when he told me that his Scottish nanny had taken him on a tour of the Tunnock’s factory!”

He also recalls guising as a child at Halloween and approaching the Tunnock family home. “Archie Tunnock was a character: a huge man with a big cigar. He would be happy to open his wallet but his wife always caught him in time to say she had some small change for us!”

His natural ear for music led Patrick straight to the then Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

He graduated in 1975 but his first few years were in front of the camera, acting in everything from children’s television to Chariots of Fire.

It was a meeting with Kenneth Branagh that changed the course of his career, particularly joining Branagh’s theatre company as musical director and composer in the late 1980s. That relationship still informs to the present day, including Branagh’s Death on the Nile from last years.

The relationship between composer and director is vital and Patrick has worked with many of the very best, including Mike Newell, Alfonso Cuarón, Robert Altman and Brian De Palma.

He believes he managed to arrive at a good time for composers.

“I came along once John Williams had brought the symphony orchestra back to film. In the early Seventies, there was a lot of bad film music but think about the power of bringing that score with a symphony orchestra on a science fiction film such as Star Wars. It changed everything.”

Working on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Patrick had to follow in the wake of Williams’ baton on the earlier scores, which meant incorporating some of the familiar themes and refrains into his own score for continuity.

The National:

“That is a huge responsibility, especially when it comes changing them slightly to suit the mood,” he admits.

With the opportunity the hear his music in concert, does Patrick think of the life of the score outside of the confines of a cinema?

“Ultimately, my job is to serve the picture first and I have had so many great opportunities with superb directors, actors, craftsmen and craftswomen.

“My music has had an opportunity to underscore wonderful film making but it is always at the back of mind that this music should be able to be played in concert. It’s not unusual at all. Think of the concerts playing the scores from Disney movies – wonderful!

“Obviously, some of the music is serving its purpose for the film but we can cherry pick from the scores to create a concert experience and that’s what will happen this month with the RSNO.

“I’m delighted Peter and Richard are coming along to present.”

Patrick is also looking forward to February when the Royal Conservatoire of  Scotland student performers will play alongside RSNO members to perform his score for the 1927 silent movie IT.

“I’m looking forward to spending more time in Scotland over the next year. Scotland and its musical institutions have given so much to me.

“This is my time to give back.”

Patrick Doyle’s Music from the Movies.

November 17, Usher Hall, Edinburgh; November 18, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall; Patrick Doyle’s IT February 2, 2024, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

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