BWW Interview: Composer Lior Rosner Talks Will and Grace and Sugar Plum on the Run
Composer Lior Rosner took the time to speak with us about his work on the Will and Grace revival and his new album Sugar Plum on the Run (out this Friday, November 8th), based on Tchaikovsky's famous Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Tell us a bit about your background. How did you decide to become a composer?
I was interested in songwriting and playing jazz from age 14 or so. Later, while serving in the Israeli army I was a keyboard player with the Air Force Big Band. I started arranging music and it got me interested in classical music and writing for large ensembles. It was clear to me that this was what I wanted to pursue as a profession.
You are composing the revival of Will and Grace, how did you get involved with this show?
My producing partner on the show, Scott Icenogle, knew the producers and he started a dialogue with them once it was clear that the show was coming back, regarding remixing the theme and giving it a fresh face.
Will and Grace is filmed in front of a live studio audience, what challenges, if any, does this create when composing for the show?
It doesn't affect the process much, other than that sometimes we have to prepare music for an on camera musical moment that involves the actors.
Are there certain instruments you gravitate towards when scoring this show?
The sound of the show bumpers remains the piano.
Since this is a revival, have you tried to match the tone of the original show or did you start from scratch with the sound?
It's pretty much very similar in style to the original run of the show.
What inspired you to create Sugar Plum on the Run?
I was fascinated with the idea of Christmas and the phenomenon that is the Christmas season. That fascination started after moving from Israel to the US. From classic holiday specials on television to the iconic music and plays, I always thought of adding my musical voice to the acclaimed Christmas canon.
No piece is more synonymous with the Christmas season than Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker. When I used to listen to the ballet, I really wished that Tchaikovsky had continued developing the music from the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy - so I chose to craft a set of variations based on that musical material.
I composed a set of eight variations that paid homage to the tradition of Russian music, imagining what would have happened if all my favorite Russian composers were each commissioned to write a variation on Tchaikovsky's theme.
What was it like working with Jeremy Irons and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra?
I was delighted to work with both. It was a real pleasure to have Mr. Irons as the voice of the piece. I have always admired his voiceover work, especially in the original Lion King.
Where can people find Sugar Plum on the Run?
Spotify, Amazon music, Apple music and the iTunes store on Friday, November 8th.
What was your favorite part about creating Sugar Plum on the Run?
I think my favorite part was during the initial phase of the writing, where the piece just came to life. It was written as a piece for 2 pianos originally, by the way.
You've composed for both television and film, is there one you tend to gravitate toward more than the other?
It all depends on who you are working with as opposed to what you're working on. I really enjoy writing for projects that involve an orchestral score most.
Is there one person you'd love to collaborate with that you haven't had a chance to yet?
Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Lee Daniels, Pedro Almodovar and many others.
When you're not composing, what do you enjoy doing?
I enjoy reading, studying music, going to see plays and concerts, and sitting still in silence and meditating.
Do you have any advice for anyone pursuing music as a career, like anything you wish you knew when you were starting out?
I'm not sure I'm qualified to answer this question, but I would say reach out to professionals whose work you admire and try to learn as much as you can from them. Also, really know your craft and have a sense of your personal musical identity. Think outside the box.
Sugar Plum on the Run is out this Friday, November 8th.
Check out the trailer for Sugar Plum on the Run here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYEr7Fz-nUw
PHOTOS COURTESY OF LIOR ROSNER