Scoring THE LAST OF THE WINTHROPS was a very special project for me. When I first spoke to Viviane and learned about her story, I connected to it on several levels. I have people close to me who have had relatable experiences causing them to question their own identity or learning about having biological sibling that they didn’t previously know about. So the story resonated with me.
As we discussed the direction of the score, we wanted to have a large cinematic sound. There are some gorgeous shots of landscapes, old towns, and castles in the film, and we wanted to make sure they were supported musically in a majestic way. Yet we also wanted a score that was intimate and personal, that would be contemporary, yet pay homage to the centuries-long history of the Winthrop Family.
To give a taste of history, I decided to incorporate the Viola da Gamba, which was developed in the late 15th century and was popular in the Renaissance and Baroque periods as a predecessor to the cello. It’s a very versatile instrument that can play melodically, work as a bass or even be strummed. Learning the instrument’s idiosyncrasies and how to effectively write for it in a contemporary way was a really fun challenge. I was very fortunate to connect with a local musician, bass player, Jim Garafalo, who also plays the Gamba and he was kind enough to answer many questions and demo some ideas for me.
To give the score intimacy I decided to use a lot of piano, often using two, three or even four piano parts together to create rich textures alongside a string quartet. I incorporated synths and musical sound design to keep it contemporary, and at key spots used a full orchestral sound to really elevate those grand moments and contrast with the rest of the score. Finally, I used a voice in 3 key moments to make sure they were appropriately highlighted.
Working during the pandemic proved to be another challenge, since everything had to be done remotely. However, it also created some fantastic opportunities, like working with Boston-based Gamba virtuoso Shirley Hunt, as well as the rest of the musicians who all recorded themselves from their homes and then sent me the tracks, which I would then edit and put together to be mixed.
This is obviously a very personal project for Viviane, so I feel privileged to have contributed to the telling of her unique and fascinating story. I hope others are touched by her story as I have been, and that they are inspired to explore their own ancestry and family history.”