Oscar nominees, from left, Brett McKenzie, Ludovic Bource, Sergio Mednes, Siedah Garrett and Alberto Iglesias chat before offical photograohs are taken as the annual Society of Composers and Lyricists pre-Oscar party. (Photo: Phil Gallo)
Most of the attendees at the the Society of Composers and Lyricists annual pre-Oscar get-together on Saturday focused on the nominees and Sunday's Academy Awards. Chris Walden is different.
Walden's Oscar job is to lead the big band at the Governor's Ball that follows the ceremony at the Hollywood and Highland Center. This year, he says, the music his big band will play is connected with the culinary theme of small plates and casual -- more lounge than white tablecloths.
"They've taken out all of the tables and made it so people will be moving around more," Walden told Billboard.biz at the party that included all of the score and song nominees in its crowd. "We've got two hours of music so it's a lot of Henry Mancini, a lot of cool '50s and '60s film music. The vibe is 'Playboy After Dark'"
Besides his big band, Walden is a composer and arranger who most recently did arrangements for Michael Buble's Christmas album. He'll be doing the same for Rod Stewart's holiday album, the recording for which is expected to begin in late spring at Capitol's studios.
He is also the type of individual one runs into at the annual fete held at a private home in Beverly Hills. Arrangers, composers, songwriters and professionals related to the field of film music gather each year on the day before the Oscars. Society of Composers and Lyricists president Dan Foliart introduces each of the nominees to the crowd who then provide a few words of thanks - and in some cases, encouragement.
Oscar nominees, from left, Howard Shore, Ludovic Bource, Siedah Garrett and John Williams gather at a Beverly Hills home the day before the Oscars. (Photo: Phil Gallo)
John Williams offered a thank you to the music branch for his 46th and 47th Oscar nominations. "At this point I'd think you must be fed up with me," he deadpanned.
Charles Bernstein, a composer on the boards of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences and the SCL, took great pains to note the international flavor of this year's nominees, pointing the origin of each composer: Alberto Iglesias ( "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy") from Spain, Howard Shore ( "Hugo") from Canada, Ludovic Bource ("The Artist"), who arrived from Paris after the party started, Bret McKenzie ("Man or Muppet" from "The Muppets") from New Zealand and Sergio Mendez and the not-present Carlinhos Brown ("Real in Rio" from "Rio"). He portrayed the much-honored Williams as a citizen of the world.
Siedah Garrett, who collaborated with Mendes and Brown on "Rio," wanted to make it clear there was still some homegrown talent among the nominees, chiming in "and I'm from Compton."
Coincidentally two of this year's nominees will leave L.A. for New Zealand the day after the ceremony. Howard Shore heads back to work with Peter Jackson on "The Hobbit" and song nominee McKenzie returns home to begin rehearsals on a Flight of the Conchords tour of New Zealand and Australia this summer.
Each of the nominees was given a chance to speak to a crowd that included songwriters Richard Sherman and Arthur Hamilton, lyricists Hal David and Dennis Spiegel, ASCAP's Mike Todd and Jeff Jernigan, BMI's Ray Yee, SESAC's Erin Collins, Leonard Maltin, composers David Newman, Daniel Licht, Austin Wintry and Roque Banos, violinist Lili Haydn, Lionsgate's Tracy McKnight, and SCL's Jim Dipasquale and Laura Dunn.
The event provides an opportunity for composers, musicians, agents and managers to mingle in unique setting. As Garret said, "any time a singer or songwriter is being celebrated for what they do, I'll show up."