Friday, October 09, 2015 • 01:11

Composer Larry Groupe to host Palomar Film Music Workshop

Composer Larry Groupé works on the Abbey Road project. He will be hosting a workshop in Palomar this month.
June 11, 2014
On June 22 through June 27, a very interesting group of talented college students and professionals will participate in an intensive, hands-on learning experience presented by the unprecedented Palomar Film Music Workshop. Those attending will be traveling from as far away as Singapore, the UK, Canada, the U.S. Midwest, and East Coast.

"Everybody likes music and movies, so we put the two together," said multi award-winning composer/director Larry Groupé, host of the workshop. Groupé is offering a first-time opportunity for aspiring film composers to sharpen their skills in the art of film scoring under the guidance of a team of professionals.

Over the last two or three years teaching master classes across the country, Groupé realized there was a need for a specialized workshop after experiencing a lot of follow-up questions after the classes.

It took a year to orchestrate the workshop after considerable preparation and a tremendous amount of effort.

"After getting the details together and just on a handshake, we said let's do it," Groupé explained.

The workshop will take place at the foot of Palomar Mountain in the relaxed, rural atmosphere of the Lazy H Ranch located at 16787 Highway 76 in Pauma Valley.

"I wanted a rural retreat experience so the participants could really concentrate on the dramatic craft of writing music to picture while in a relaxed environment," Groupé said.

He selected the location because it had all the logistics of a retreat similar to Walden Pond. "There exists the right energy level and a quietness necessary to concentrate," he said. Participants are invited to sit under shade trees to work during private writing time.

Each day will begin with workshop founder Groupé handing out movie scripts for students to write to. They will work throughout the afternoon. At 5 p.m. at the end of the day, there will be a playback session in which the students' works are discussed.

Included are special presentations from Hollywood professionals teaching the art and practice of writing original music for the movies. Personal mentoring and group review occur each day.

The last day of the workshop, the students' best piece will be recorded professionally. The recording session enables the students to take home musical creations that are professionally performed and mixed back into the scene. At the conclusion of the workshop, students have a finished product that is something tangible to show to potential producers and directors that may hire them.

In great demand, the popular workshop was sold out without advertising within 12 days of its launch on New Year's Day. After assessing the first workshop, Groupe's hopes to conduct other workshops locally and in other locations.

Attending the Palomar Film Music Workshop will be a special guest. A high school teacher who influenced Groupe's decision to pursue a musical career will join the others attending the workshop. Over the last three or four years they have reconnected.

"He is an amazing musician who was instrumental in my life," said Groupé. "I knew exactly what I wanted to do at age 17 and never deterred in my path."

Groupe's original idea to create a workshop transpired from local Palomar Mountain where he has a vacation home situated on a nine-acre parcel where he draws much inspiration from the surroundings.

"We have wonderful exposure," Groupe said. "There's a very nice view of the ocean looking south. On Palomar, there are very few lights and it has remained unchanged from 300 years ago."

The light on Palomar provides insight and inspiration for the composer.

"Light is changing all day long," said Groupé. "It shifts the entire day."

Palomar Mountain seems to be the inspiration for a recent Groupé masterpiece. Canadian skater Kevin Reynolds earned a silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics on Feb. 9, skating to Groupe's title score for Excelsius. Groupé received a Global Music Award for this triumphal theme as well as a Global Music Award for his work Trondheim, a commissioned piece for the Jewish Cultural Museum of Oslo, Norway.

Originally from Princeton, New Jersey, Groupé moved to Northern California to pursue a musical education. A graduate of the Conservatory of Music at the University of the Pacific, he was the recipient of the ASCAP Award for Student Composers his senior year. He earned his Master of Music in Composition at the University of California at San Diego where he studied with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Roger Reynolds.

"I basically stayed in the area," Groupé said. "I started in Pacific Beach."

Then he kept moving north until settling in Oceanside. "I body surf in the morning in Oceanside then at 5,000 feet I can barbecue in the snow on Palomar Mountain. I spend two to three days a week in Palomar."

A father of four, he is married to artist/songwriter CiCi Porter, the singer for 15 years for the successful band Border Town.

Groupé is one of the most versatile and talented composers in the entertainment industry. With close to 100 orchestral recordings, Groupé is a distinguished composer, conductor, and arranger. He is one of the few composers commissioned by the San Diego Symphony, which performed his piece "Water Unfolding." Menagerie, a suite for solo organ commissioned by the Spreckel's Organ Society to commemorate its 85th birthday was performed at the world's largest organ pavilion in Balboa Park.

In addition, Groupé conducted orchestras in 34 North American cities on his 2001 concert tour with the band Yes.

"They are my favorite group of all time, so it really was a dream come true," said Groupe.

He has acquired an impressive amount of credits. His two-dozen film scores include "Straw Dogs," "Cats Dancing on Jupiter," and Oscar-nominated "The Contender." He won an Emmy for Best Original Score for the film Residue and earned an Emmy nomination for "Line of Fire." Groupé wrote music for the series Commander In Chief, The Ren and Stimpy Show, and Star Trek: The Next Generation. He has made 24 soundtrack albums. Groupe's present agenda includes several films he will be working on during the summer months.

"I will re-invent myself for the next high-profile project for a Fox mini-series," Groupe said.

Reflecting on the music industry, Groupé said: "The pendulum swings in entertainment all the time. Trends come and go. It's a fickle industry."

He concludes that it requires a unique talent to focus on the dramatic craft of writing music to pictures.

"It's exciting and a tremendous amount of fun to be a film composer," said Groupe. "But the competition is fierce. There are only 300 that do this for a living. It requires an amazing amount of resiliency and persistence. It is an unsecure career path in which you have to ride the ups and downs of the waves, otherwise, it's too discouraging."

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