Music as a Unifier
Foundation Alum Teams Up with Diane Warren for Global COVID-19 Relief Anthem
When music composer-arranger Sharon Farber joined forces with Diane Warren and Director Gev Miron to create an anthem for those affected by COVID-19, they knew it had to include an international perspective. "This virus doesn't discriminate," Farber said from her home in Los Angeles. "This is a global tragedy. It was important for me to include singers from virtually every continent for the project." The relief anthem rearranges Warren's Oscar-nominated hit "I'm Standing With You" and unites over 160 musicians, instrumentalists, and singers from all over the world. Farber is happy that the musical collaboration conveys a powerful message, "I love that it offers hope and comfort that's so needed during this time," she says.
Born and raised in Israel, after completing a dual degree in film and concert music at Berklee College, Farber applied for the coveted Television Academy Foundation Internship and was selected from over 600 music interns. She was placed under the tutelage of music composers for Seinfeld, The Simpsons and Batman: The Animated Series. "I had the opportunity to work with the best in the industry. The Television Academy Foundation gave me a remarkable start!" While working from home, the 4x Emmy nominee spoke to us about her exciting career journey, working with her industry heroes and the challenges and joys of creating a global anthem.
How did the Television Academy Foundation Internship impact your career?
From the start, I interned with two prolific composers: Jonathan Wolff, who was scoring Seinfeld at the time amongst other shows, and Alf Clausen, who was scoring The Simpsons. It was an incredible experience to see them work; I learned so much. At the end of my internship, Jonathan asked me if I could pick one composer in the industry to meet, who would it be? Without hesitation I replied with, Shirley Walker, the composer of Batman: The Animated Series on WB. She was a pioneer and revered by female composers. Shirley took me under her musical wing and taught me about music and professionalism. I worked with her as an orchestrator, eventually composing some additional music for the show. It was unbelievable, as in a matter of months I went from interning to creating music and recording with an orchestra every week on major Hollywood studio lots such as Sony, Warner Bros. and Paramount. For someone who just graduated and moved to LA from Boston, it was a life-changing experience and a dream come true. I am so glad I took the initiative to look for opportunities while I was a student. Towards the end of my studies, I found out about the Internship Program by visiting the Berklee Career Resource Center. I applied, not really hoping for anything, and was delighted when Jonathan called, asking if I would be willing to move to Los Angeles, I replied 'of course!'
What was the most memorable part of your internship?
My first time meeting Alf Clausen, he was scoring a project at Sony with over 100 musicians; it was a magnificent sight. I immediately knew this was exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Shirley [Walker] was working with Emmy-winning music editor Virginia Ellsworth. We met and became instant friends, to the point that she became my first manager and even sponsored my artist visa which allowed me to stay in the United States. I miss her and Shirley very much. Without the Television Academy Foundation internship, I wouldn't have met Virginia; without her, I don't think I would've had the opportunity to stay in this country to pursue my dreams and career goals. I'm so grateful for Virginia, Shirley, Jonathan, and Alf and others who supported and believed in me!
Growing up did you always know you wanted to score television shows?
I always knew my life would be in music. I come from a very musical family. My grandparents used to have concerts at their home, as they played guitar and mandolin. My uncle Kobi is a huge songwriter in Israel, so it is in my genes. I was around 17 when I got hooked on film, TV and concert music, and I was blessed to receive a scholarship to attend Berklee. I graduated with a dual degree in film and concert music, and have kept this dual career.
Tell us how you came to work with Diane Warren on the amazing COVID-19 relief anthem "I'm Standing With You".
I've known Diane for a few years now and we've become close friends--we actually met through the Television Academy while judging on Emmy panels! We were introduced by multi-Emmy-winner Paul Antonelli. One day my friend, director Gev Miron, called me and asked 'what can we do to help those affected by COVID-19?' We immediately thought to do a song and when it comes to songs, there's no one better than Diane. We reached out to her and she was super excited to do something. We were trying to figure out which song would be the best, and we both agreed that "I'm Standing With You" was a powerful choice. I absolutely loved the song and started working to rearrange it and get more artists involved. I called my friend Libi Lebel, the conductor of the Texas Medical Center Orchestra, comprised mainly of medical professionals, and invited them to join us, as well as Patrick Bolton, musical director of The Spirit of David Gospel Choir. On top of that we had 60 more singers and instrumentalists from LA. Through Diane's connection, we also scored the amazing soprano Renee Fleming! Together with Diane and Gev, we brought 17 International lead singers and I brought about 160 instrumentalists and choir singers.
What were some of the challenges putting this project together?
It was important for all of us to make sure this anthem not only included a global perspective but also a global charity component. We featured singers from virtually every continent and at one point we had 270 audio channels! It was massive and complicated. As the producer, I worked with 17 lead singers, deciding who would sing what - creating duo and trios. It was challenging because everyone was so good and I wanted to feature everybody! To ensure world music was a part of this project, I approached a lot of global artists including master Instrumentalist Omar Faruk, and Gev brought Hariharan from India.
For the music video, Gev sent cinematographers from all over the world to capture the empty streets of different countries. Then we shot the stage at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, and I instructed him where to have the players – we really worked together. We also wanted to give the music video a live concert feel, so we asked everyone who participated to dress up professionally like an actual performance to give that sense of being at a real musical event. The orchestra wore medical uniforms to honor those on the frontlines. All proceeds from the viewing went to the United Nations Corona Relief Fund. We all are very proud of it!
What advice do you have for young people looking to make it in their career of choice?
Be assertive. Seek opportunities and take advantage of them. Show up, do the work and always remain professional. Today it is so much easier to find opportunities. Try and connect to those you wish to meet online, participate in forums and find different workshops. Believe in yourself and go for it with all your might!
For more information please visit SharonFarber.com.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
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