Interview by Paul Salfen
Paul Salfen talks to Grammy, Academy and, Golden Globe award-winning director Howard Shore about scoring FUNNY BOY and where or who Shore goes to find inspiration for his many works.
Directed by critically acclaimed, Oscar-nominated director Deepa Mehta (“Water”) and shot on location in Sri Lanka, FUNNY BOY, now streaming on NETFLIX, explores the awakening of sexual identity by a young boy named Arjie during the 1970s and 80s against the backdrop of the civil war. As political tensions escalate to a boiling point between the minority Tamils and the majority Sinhalese, the boy comes of age in a society and family that refuses to embrace differences outside of societal norms. The film mirrors the oppression of the Tamil people with the marginalization Arjie suffers because of who he is and who he loves. FUNNY BOY chronicles a country torn apart by fear and abuse of power, while Arjie struggles to find balance and self-love despite the absence of empathy and understanding.
Shore’s musical interpretation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s imaginative world of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, as portrayed in the films directed by Peter Jackson, have enthralled people of all generations for years. This work stands as his most acclaimed composition to date awarding him with three Academy Awards, four Grammy Awards, two Golden Globes as well as numerous critic’s and festival awards.
He is an officer of the Order of Canada, an Officier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres de la France and the recipient of Canada’s Governor General’s Performing Arts Award. The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures honored Howard Shore with an award for Career Achievement for Music Composition and the City of Vienna bestowed him with the Max Steiner Award. Shore has received numerous other awards for his career achievements.
Perhaps most notable from his early career, Shore was one of the original creators of Saturday Night Live and served as music director from 1975 – 1980. At the same time, he began collaborating with David Cronenberg and has since scored 15 of the director’s films, including The Fly, Crash, and Naked Lunch. He was awarded Canadian Screen Awards for Maps to the Stars for score and Cosmopolis for both score and song. His original scores to A Dangerous Method, Eastern Promises and Dead Ringers were each honoured with a Genie Award. Shore continues to distinguish himself with a wide range of projects, from Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, The Departed, The Aviator (for which he won his third Golden Globe Award) and Gangs of New York to Ed Wood, Se7en, The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia, Mrs. Doubtfire and the score for Tom McCarthy’s Academy Award-winning film Spotlight.
His opera, The Fly (2008), which premiered at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris and at Los Angeles Opera, recently completed a successful run in Germany at Theatre Trier. Other recent works include the piano concerto Ruin and Memory for Lang Lang (2010), the song cycle A Palace Upon the Ruins featuring mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano (2014), a cello concerto Mythic Gardens featuring Sophie Shao (2012), Fanfare for the Wanamaker Organ in Philadelphia (2008), Sea to Sea in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation (2017), and the song cycle L’Aube premiered in October 2017 performed by Susan Platts and commissioned by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. The Forest a guitar concerto composed for Miloš premiered in 2019 for the National Arts Centre Orchestra.