5 Questions With ... Rachel Portman

GRAMMY-nominated composer visits The Recording Academy
  • Photo: Lester Cohen/WireImage.com
    Rachel Portman
May 12, 2011 -- 5:55 pm PDT

GRAMMY-nominated composer Rachel Portman stopped by The Recording Academy's headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif., for an installment of 5 Questions With … . During her visit, Portman discussed her creative process, being the first female composer to win an Academy Award, music education, and creating the score for Never Let Me Go, among other topics.

"You have to write your way into a film," said Portman regarding her creative process for scoring films. "It has to become a part of you. You have to step into its world and then you get the answers. It's very intuitive writing a score for a movie."

A classically trained musician, Portman was born in Haslemere, England, where she began writing music at the age of 14. While studying at the University of Oxford, Portman began writing music for student theater programs.

"I was, in a way, very fortunate that my professors discouraged me from doing what I was doing because it pushed me into something that I believed I would be better at, which is writing music that tells stories," said Portman.

After graduation, Portman began writing for film and television. In 1996 she became the first female composer to win an Oscar, garnering Original Musical or Comedy Score honors for Emma. Portman received her first GRAMMY nomination in 2000 for Best Score Soundtrack Album For A Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media for The Cider House Rules. She garnered a nomination in the same category the following year for Chocolat. In 2010 she was honored with the Richard Kirk Award for her significant contributions to the realm of film and television music at the BMI Film/TV Music Awards. Portman has composed scores for more than 20 films, including Benny & Joon, War Of Buttons, Mona Lisa Smile, the 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate, and most recently, 2010's Never Let Me Go.

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