The Thames Pageant for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee is coming up very soon and we catch up with composer Anne Dudley (The Crying Game, Jeeves & Wooster, American History X, Kavanagh Q. C.). Apart from writing TV & film music, Anne has collaborated with Terry Jones on an opera, Sam Taylor-Wood on an installation for White Cube Gallery, has worked with cellist Steven Isserlis on a series of children’s musical fairy tales, Bill Bailey on his “Remarkable Guide to the Orchestra” and was once a member of Art Of Noise.
Q: How did you get involved with the Jubilee Project?
A: All credit to Gavin Greenaway who felt that British composers should be at the forefront of the celebration. I’ve known Gavin for many years and was delighted to be asked to contribute.
Q: Your piece “Fast-Slow-Fast” opens the album. What was the inspiration for this piece? Did you get a chance to choose the piece you want to write or did you have to draw a straw?
A: The pieces are based – some fairly loosely it must be said – on Handel’s Water Music, composed for a similar occasion nearly 300 years ago. By ballot I was allocated Allegro- Adagio-Allegro; perhaps not the most inspiring title but a very satisfying structure. Handel’s original Allegro is based on a repeated note figure to which I pay homage. His Adagio uses a walking bass figure in D minor – this again I took as a starting point.
Q: Were the rehearsals difficult? Was it fun working with the H2O ensemble?
A: The first rehearsal was on a boat in February in very windy conditions. The most challenging thing was keeping the music on the stands!
Q: Fellow Jubilee composer Chris Gunning doesn’t know to swim. Are you a good swimmer?
A: I am an okay swimmer. The highlight of my swimming career was winning the Brownies under 9s width. The certificate is only slightly smudged from a brief dunking in Woolwich Public Baths.
Q: Who bought you your first instrument? Someone told us that you were a good student.
My first instrument was the recorder – which I loved. Closely followed by a piano which my Mum bought for £3. Even all those years ago, that was pretty cheap. Then, at Primary School the “best” recorder player qualified for the single clarinet available. I was desperate to get it – luckily my wish was granted and that instrument became my first study at the Royal College of Music. I think I was an averagely good student at College. I did the work.
Anne is currently writing music for the film version of Les Miserables. We tried to find out more about the score but it’s all “hush-hush” at the moment so we have no option but to ask about Hugh Jackman…
Q: Forget about the other two. Have you met Hugh Jackman yet?
A: Hugh is, first and foremost a delightful human being. Terrific actor, great singer, always well prepared highly professional – what’s not to like?
Q: What is your favourite film project?
A: When you get right down to it, a favourite and satisfying project is down to the people involved. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some truly brilliant and delightful directors and producers. It would be enormously undiplomatic to name them.
Q: How does your trophy cabinet look like?
A: My trophy cabinet? What do you take me for? The Brownies Under 9 width certificate (slightly smudged) is the only thing I have on display.
Anne is the recipient of the ASCAP Award for The Crying Game (1994) and the Oscar for Best Music for The Full Monty (1998).
Interview by Jelena Jancic, May 2012