Composer cues music for movie buffs |

Composer cues music for movie buffs

Greg Marshall, Of the Record staff

You have probably heard his music, even if you haven’t heard of him.

Composer Peter Golub wrote the haunting music for "Frozen River," winner of the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize in 2008, and the sweeping score for "The Great Debaters" starring Denzel Washington.

He is also the director of the Sundance Institute’s Film Music Program. Golub will spill the secrets of his craft and share excerpts from his movies Wednesday, May 6, in the Jim Santy Auditorium at the Park City Library. The evening starts at 7 p.m. and is free to the public. The event is part of the Sundance Institute series, which offers Summit County residents a sample of the institute’s programs and artists.

He plans to talk about the Sundance Institute Film Music Program and its annual Composers Lab, dedicated to supporting emerging film composers and to enhancing the role of music in independent film, according to press material.

One of the misconceptions of composing for film is that it’s only about writing notes and melodies. "People think it’s about showing off your music," Golub explained during an interview with The Park Record. "What we teach is to leave room for the movie. You’re a filmmaker as much as you are a composer. You’re telling stories."

As important to a film as plush seats are to a theater, music establishes the tone and atmosphere of a movie. Music propels story and can, in an instant, switch the feel of a movie from romance to suspense. "Try watching a film without music," Golub dares. "They tend to be nail biters."

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The kind of music that attracts Golub has an almost physical presence on screen, he said. Golub lists the scores from "To Kill a Mockingbird," "Edward Scissorhands" and "Schindler’s List" among his favorites. Learning, for both musicians and audiences, begins with listening.

The Composers Lab is held annually at the Sundance Resort. Golub helps pair emerging composers with directors and producers from other independent projects. The labs are meant as teaching tools, not necessarily golden tickets to success. Composing for movies is a competitive enterprise and not every composer has the temperament to work in film. Some Sundance fellows come from classical music backgrounds. Others do not. "Our program aims to incorporate people from widely different areas," he said.

Peter Golub speaks in the Jim Santy Auditorium at the Park City Library and Education Center Wednesday, May 6, at 7 p.m.