“Conrad’s score is an unconventional narrator of sorts, using a combination of various musical styles to tell the story. Whether it’s a Big Band composition or a sweeping orchestral piece composition, a simple blues theme or an epic love theme, his genius as a composer and storyteller shines brightly.” Tom Rice, Writer, and Director, The Rising Place
Emblematic of Pope’s work is the lavish, classic score for the romantic epic Pavilion of Women from Universal Focus and Beijing Film Studios. Based on the Pearl S. Buck novel and starring Willem Dafoe and Luo Yan, the film’s challenge was to marry Chinese classical music with Western “classic” film scoring. The soundtrack is available on the Varese Sarabande label, and the “Main Title” from Pavilion was featured in the commemorative compilation for the label’s 25th anniversary. A “replacement score,” Pope defied conventional Hollywood wisdom, reshaping, in only two weeks, the dramatic course of a film, giving the director, the producers, and studio the music they had imagined for their movie – a goal they had been unable to achieve through “traditional” Hollywood channels. As a result of this score, Movie Music UK Awards awarded Pope Newcomer of the Year (2002). Pavilion of Women was also nominated in three additional categories. He was awarded third place for Score of the Year, third place for Best Score for a Drama, and second place for Best Single Cue (End Credits).
In 2009, he created the score for Tom Provost’s (screenwriter of Under Suspicion) directorial debut film, The Presence, produced by Tom Rice and starring Mira Sorvino, Shane West, and Tony Curran. The Presence is a classic ghost story with a contemporary twist. Going against today’s trend of heavily electronic ambient “spooky” scores, Conrad’s approach focuses on natural acoustic sound, developing the viewer’s experience of a secluded cabin in the woods where the story unfolds. He uniquely builds tension: by composing music that, if not married to the film, would not be scary at all but, when put to film, creates a profoundly disturbing and unsettling sensibility.
In My Sleep, a crime thriller directed by Allen Wolf and released in 2010, features a powerful score by Conrad Pope that combines synthesized and orchestral elements to create the “noir-ish” atmosphere of the film — a world where the character, to solve a horrific crime, must inhabit a twilight world which lies between everyday reality and dreams. Bold rhythm tracks give the film a powerful driving sound, and the strings and piano of the melodic themes lend the film a poignant beauty as they express unfolding memories.
Pope wrote the score for the 2008 horror rock film, The Band from Hell, using industrial and heavy metal rock, lending a fresh approach to orchestral instrument writing. His use of driving percussion and an edgy contemporary orchestra allow this score to render a spectacular fall into an ever-darkening chasm of the film’s central character.
In 2007 Conrad wrote additional music for the Scott Hicks romantic comedy No Reservations (Warner Bros.) starring Catherine Zeta Jones and Aaron Eckhart. The No Reservations soundtrack CD topped the charts for Amazon’s best-selling CDs.
Other scores include the music for Anne DeSalvo’s character-driven drama The Amati Girls, starring Mercedes Ruehl, Cloris Leachman, Paul Sorvino, Lee Grant, and Sean Young, and the coming-of-age comedy, Lloyd, directed by Hector Barron.Pope’s understanding of how to make a period film score true to an era and yet specific to a story can be heard in Pope’s score for the World War II Southern drama, The Rising Place. This score gained him a Moxie! Award at the 2001 Santa Monica Film Festival. His memorable yet straightforward love theme for that movie was made into a song, “God Bless the Heartaches,” by Linda Thompson and David Foster. The Rising Place soundtrack is available on Lakeshore Records. The Rising Place score was nominated in 2002 for the Best Score for a Television Film by the Movie Music UK Awards. Outstanding examples of Pope’s brilliance with source music can be found in this score, including “Jumpin’ at the USO.”
Action-adventure films Ghost Ship and Temptation showcase Conrad Pope’s talent at creating exciting, propulsive music that explodes off-screen, heightening the sheer thrill of both films.
Earlier scores include chiller/thrillers Under The Moon, MetalBeast, and The Set-Up.