Many thanks to George Stiles for giving a Leweston Lecture on Tuesday 10 October.
George spoke about studying music at the University of Exeter where he meet his writing partner Anthony Drewe (and our very own organist Paul Cheater). He discussed the challenges he faced trying to make a living as a musical composer, before finally hitting the big time when Honk! won the ‘Best New Musical’ Olivier Award against big names like Mama Mia and The Lion King.
George explained some of the technical aspects of his compositional process, which was very informative for our Music Scholars and GCSE and A-Level Music pupils who were present at the Lecture. One of his compositional illustrations was a piece called ‘The Limpopo River’ from one of his first successful musicals, Just So, based on stories by Rudyard Kipling. He discussed his use of a descant for the second section of the song, and then a very effective tertiary modulation for the climax of the piece. We also enjoyed his explanation of his compositional process for the music of Mary Poppins, where he worked with the Sherman Brothers in order to ensure a seamless transition from the original music of the Disney film, to their new repertoire for the stage show.
George’s career has now moved into another direction and he is the musical producer of Six, currently showing in the West End, Broadway and Toronto.