As the new president of the Society of Composers and Lyricists, I follow in the footsteps of some of the most esteemed members of our community. I do not take this responsibility lightly, and I will attempt to continue the forward motion that Ray Colcord and his predecessors so ably put in place for me.
In preparing this inaugural president’s message, I contemplated on the vision that I wanted to set forth to you as a member of this organization. Perhaps the most important concept that we all should keep ever present in our minds is that we are members of a fortunate and select group. Regardless of the challenges that we are confronted with, we should all marvel at the talents that we possess to allow us to call music our profession. To be able to compose a piece of music or write a lyric is a gift that must be treasured. The fact that we can make a living at something so artistic is nothing short of remarkable. I can think of no other aspect of the filmmaking process that has such a profound result on the final product. A simple phrase or a chosen chord can alter the entire impact of a scene. A song crafted for a specific moment can add an element that is so profound that it transgresses any other aspect of filmmaking. These are unique talents that we should protect and not diminish. As we go out into the community, each one of us is an ambassador to our profession. I can guarantee that respecting your abilities will help you achieve the confidence that it will take to succeed.
Currently we are at a crossroads that presents challenges that I personally haven’t experienced during my twenty-five years in the business. There are numerous aspects of our profession that I intend to explore as my tenure evolves. One of my goals is to continue to stress the value of what we do to the community at large. As we accept assignments for little or no compensation or if we are inclined to give away our performance rights as a condition of employment, we are lessening the value of our creative services. Although our organization has frequently explored the topic of performing rights, I feel that there are still those who have little or no clue as to the worth of our copyrights. This must be a high priority of mine. I will do what I can to lend my expertise to those starting in the business, and perhaps through my own experiences, many of you can avoid some of the pitfalls that I have encountered over the years. Although I have the greatest respect for those who have mastered electronics, and fully appreciated the artistic vision it takes to execute a electronic score, I feel that the lack of live musicians, particularly in television scores, has had a detrimental impact on our profession. I have said many times before that the contribution of incredible musicianship to my career is impossible to put a price on. Artistic interaction between the composer and the performer adds a dimension to your work that nothing else can achieve. I hope to have more programs to expose you to the endless wealth of talent that currently exists here in Los Angeles. Unless we nurture and support these great performers, the talent pool may diminish and I assure you that our profession will suffer.
Ray Colcord started a great tradition last year of honoring the genius of those who preceded us. Ray’s and my ideology are totally in sync in preserving the legacy of those wonderful creators whose work is the cornerstone of our profession. I urge you to become more aware of their contributions as we continue to pay homage to them. I am so proud to have those of you among us who, although not songwriters or composers, are invaluable to our organization and will benefit from many of our activities and have an opportunity to join with us on many common goals. You are artistic in your own right and we welcome your support and applaud the important role you play in our careers.
Our organization has elected the finest board of directors that could have been assimilated. Each is an expert in his or her own right. I am proud of their willingness to serve and will call upon them to lend their knowledge, particularly in areas in which I am lacking. Laura Dunn will continue her service to our group as the executive director. I am excited about the prospect of working with her in the new offices we share with Chris Young and the Film Music Society, a wonderful preservation group that I encourage you to find out more about. Finally, my biggest hope is that as we face the challenges before us we can garner a sense of camaraderie. I truly believe that through this we will achieve a unification of purpose that will make us stronger and more effective as we continue to do what we do–create music. Over the coming months, I look forward to meeting with many of you, either at one of our exciting events or privately during office hours that I will be establishing at our new headquarters.
Published in THE SCORE quarterly newsletter [Vol. XVIII, Number One, Spring 2003]