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Category: University news

Dr Norah Lorway, BA(Hons) Creative Music Technology lecturer, has been recognised as a top female composer in a list curated by Alana Hauser from the acclaimed Sundance Institute.

Chosen for the soundtrack she composed for a documentary film called Anthropocene: The Human Epoch, Norah is among eighteen female composers highlighted by Sundance.

The Sundance Institute is an international organisation founded in 1981 to foster independence, risk-taking and new voices in film. It provides residential labs, fellowships, grants and mentorships that support over 900 artists each year. Its famous Sundance Film Festival also provides a platform for independent film-makers worldwide.

Norah’s powerful composition for Anthropocene: The Human Epoch was chosen by Sundance for its Spotlight category.

Norah told us: “[Being listed] was exciting and a bit of a shock!”

The documentary itself is described by the film-makers as “a cinematic meditation on humanity’s massive re-engineering of the planet”:

“From concrete seawalls in China that now cover 60% of the mainland coast, to the biggest terrestrial machines ever built in Germany, to the psychedelic potash mines in Russia’s Ural Mountains, to metal festivals in the closed city of Norilsk, to the devastated Great Barrier Reef in Australia and surreal lithium evaporation ponds in the Atacama desert.”

Throughout the film, the film-makers explore different areas of the world, highlighting the “profound and lasting human changes to the Earth” as they travel across it. 

Norah told us what it was like to work on the project: “The experience was really great – the directors and I spoke at length about the film as it progressed and I was included in the whole process, which helped with the overall cohesion and satisfaction with the process.” 

The soundtrack was largely created from watching scenes from the documentary, but Norah said she “also watched a lot of similarly filmed documentaries to gain further inspiration”. 

Norah joined the film team in attending the world premiere of the documentary at the Toronto International Film Festival, one of the largest film festivals in the world. 

Her advice for composers looking to follow her footsteps is to “keep working hard, put your music online and someone will take notice.” And for composers working on a feature length, she said to “keep in touch with the directors, pace yourself, be open to quick changes and know how to work in short spurts. Time management is key!”

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