Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Music

Dr Ian Sapiro

Lecturer in Music, Taught Postgraduate Tutor, and Deputy Director of Student Education

0113 343 2418

School of Music, Room 2.09

Office hours: Thursday 9.30-10.30am

PhD, M.Phil, MMus, BA, PGCLTHE (all Leeds)

Ian Sapiro works principally in film music, musical theatre, adaptation, orchestration and the overlaps between them.


Ian began his musical studies at Leeds in 1997 and has since gained an undergraduate degree, postgraduate qualifications in composition (MMus 2001, M.Phil 2005), and his PhD (2011), which investigates the role of the orchestrator in the contemporary British film industry. The thesis exposes the diverse nature of the role in the UK and challenges widely held assumptions about the linearity, compartmentalisation and global uniformity of film-score production processes. It also provides new definitions for ‘orchestrating’ and ‘arranging’, and presents a new non-linear conceptual model of the film-score production process, the first of its kind.

Ian has been active as a professional conductor of amateur musical theatre productions for over 20 years. His currently musical director of Guiseley AOS, Leeds, and spent fifteen years as musical director for Bradford Youth Players (Act 2) and Buttershaw St Paul’s AODS, Bradford. He has also conducted musicals and concerts in Leeds, Halifax, Dewsbury, Liverpool and Birkenhead. In 2017 Ian received the rare and prestigious NODA Commendation – a National Operatic and Dramatic Association medal recognising the work of a non-amateur who has given devoted service to amateur theatre over a period of at least 10 years -having been nominated for the award by Buttershaw St Paul’s AODS. He won the ‘Eileen Mogridge trophy for Best Musical
Direction’ at the Wharfedale Festival of Theatre in 2015-16 for Evita with Guiseley AOS, and was ‘Musical Director of the Year’ at the Bradford Playhouse awards in 2014 for Witches of Eastwick with Bradford Youth Players.

Research Interests

  • Film music, particularly film-score production process, and especially the orchestration of film music
  • Musicals and musical theatre
  • Adaptations (stage-to-screen, screen-to-stage, screen-to-screen, stage-to-stage, etc.)
  • Orchestration and Arrangement
  • The overlaps between these areas

Film Music and Film-Score Production Processes

Ian’s monograph, Scoring the Score: The Role of the Orchestrator in the Contemporary Film Industry (Routledge, 2016), is the first scholarly publication exploring the orchestrators and orchestration of music for screen media, and takes the form of a critical interrogation of screen-score orchestration in America and Britain. He interviewed a number of leading US- and UK-based film-score orchestrators and composers in the course of his research, including orchestrators Conrad Pope (John Williams, Alexandre Desplat), Bruce Fowler (Hans Zimmer) and Steve Bartek (Danny’s Elfman) and Oscar-winning composers Dario Marianelli, Steven Price and AR Rahman. Ian’s first book, Ilan Eshkeri’s ‘Stardust’: a Film Score Guide, was published by Scarecrow Press in 2013.

Ian has undertaken a significant amount of archival film-music study alongside Professor David Cooper drawing on the unique resources held in the Trevor Jones and Michael Nyman Archives at Leeds, which include session recordings, spotting notes and other documentation relating to the film-score production process. He has published on the working practices of Trevor Jones and Michael Nyman alongside Professor Cooper, and has also published on Michael Nyman’s collaboration with film-maker and director Peter Greenaway.

Musicals, Musical Theatre and Adaptation

Musical theatre is both a research and teaching interest and an area of practical application for Ian. He has writen book chapters on the relationship between the British musical and the pop music industry in the 1960s to the 1980s (OUP, 2017), and the adaptation of Les Miserables for the cinema (Edinburgh University Press, 2017), and  a chapter focused on filmic adaptations of the stage musical Annie is in press. He is an active conductor and musical director, which affords him opportunities to apply his knowledge of musicals in a practical context, and he is keen to explore the relationship between theory and practice in musical theatre.

Orchestration and Arrangement

Often misrepresented as the same thing, Ian is very interested in approaches to, and the practical application of orchestration and arrangement. He has created new definitions of the two processes as they relate to screen music – detailed in his book, Scoring the Score – and is an active orchestrator and arranger of music.


Current Modules

  • MUSS1110 Music Research Skills; module tutor
  • MUSS1813 The Best of Broadway; module leader
  • MUSS2820 Music in Practice: Film-Score Creation and Production; module leader and tutor
  • MUSS3122 Special Study in Musicology: The Last (Twenty-)Five Years: The Musical on Stage and Screen
  • MUSS3140 Dissertation; module leader, and supervisor of projects mainly in the areas of film music and musical theatre
  • MUSS3235 Applied Project; module leader, and supervisor of practice-led projects in the areas of film music, film-score creation, orchestration and transcription
  • MUSS5134M Individual Project; supervising projects in the area of film music, linked to other teaching
  • MUSS5162M Masters Dissertation; supervising projects relating to the film-music industry and live television musicals


  • Taught Postgraduate Tutor
  • Deputy Director of Student Education
  • Administrative Systems Officer



  • Sapiro IP (2016) Scoring the Score: The Role of the Orchestrator in the Contemporary Film Industry. Routledge.

  • Sapiro IP (2013) Ilan Eshkeri's Stardust: A Film Score Guide. Scarecrow Film Score Guides. Scarecrow Press.

  • Cooper D; Fox C; Sapiro I (eds.) (2008) CineMusic? Constructing the Film Score. Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

  • Cooper DG, Sapiro IP, Anderson L The Screen Music of Trevor Jones: Technology, Process, Production. (Submitted)

Journal articles

  • Cooper D, Sapiro I, Anderson L, Hall S (2016) “Digitizing, Organizing and Managing an Audio-Visual Archive: The Trevor Jones Archive at the University of Leeds”, Journal of Film Music. 6.2: 101-110.
    DOI: 10.1558/jfm.29827, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/104950/

  • Cooper DG, Sapiro IP (2011) “A Source-Studies Approach to Michael Nyman's Score for The Draughtsman's Contract”, Journal of Film Music. 3.2: 155-170.

  • Cooper DG, Sapiro IP (2006) “Ethnomusicology in the Laboratory: From the Tonmesser to Digital Melography”, Ethnomusicology Forum.


  • Sapiro IP (2018) “Star Scores: Orchestration and The Sound of John Williams’s Film Music”, In: Audissino E (eds.) John Williams: Music for Films, Television, and the Concert Stage. Contemporary Composers. Brepols.

  • Sapiro IP (2017) “Beyond the Barricade: Adapting 'Les Misérables' for the Cinema”, In: Donnelly KJ; Carroll E (eds.) Contemporary Musical Film. Music and the Moving Image. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

  • Sapiro I (2017) “Craft, art, or process: The question of creativity in orchestration for screen”, In: The Routledge Companion to Screen Music and Sound. 305-317
    DOI: 10.4324/9781315681047

  • Sapiro IP (2017) “The Pop-Music Industry and the British Musical”, In: Jubin O; Gordon R (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of the British Musical. Oxford Handbooks. Oxford University Press. 331-358

  • Sapiro IP (2016) “The Orchestrator and the Film Soundtrack: An Interview with Matt Dunkley”, In: Kulezic-Wilson D; Greene E (eds.) The Palgrave Handbook of Sound Design and Music in Screen Media: Integrated Soundtracks.

  • Sapiro I (2016) “Interview 6: Orchestration, collaboration, and the integrated soundtrack-an interview with Matt Dunkley”, In: The Palgrave Handbook of Sound Design and Music in Screen Media: Integrated Soundtracks. 421-428
    DOI: 10.1057/978-1-137-51680-0_29

  • Sapiro IP (2012) “The Filmmaker's Contract - Controlling Sonic Space in the Films of Peter Greenaway”, In: Wierzbicki J (eds.) Music, Sound and Filmmakers: Sonic Style in Cinema. Routledge Music and Screen Media Series. Routledge. 151-164

  • Sapiro IP, Cooper D (2008) “Spotting, Scoring, Soundtrack: Trevor Jones's Score for "Sea of Love"”, In: Cooper D; Fox C; Sapiro IP (eds.) CineMusic? Constructing the Film Score. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

  • Sapiro IP “You will know that she is our Annie: Adapting a Broadway Classic”, In: McHugh D (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Musical Theatre Adaptations. New York: Oxford University Press. (Submitted)

Conference papers

  • Sapiro IP (2016) ‘You Will Know that She is Our Annie’: Comparing Three Screen Adaptations of a Broadway Classic. Music for Audio-Visual Media II

  • Cooper D, Sapiro I, Anderson L, Hall S (2015) 'A Very Smooth Transition into the Industry': Trevor Jones's Score for 'The Black Angel'. Music and the Moving Image

  • Cooper DG, Sapiro, Anderson L, Hall S (2014) Sharing sonic space: the relationship between pre-existing and original music in Brassed Off and Notting Hill. Music and Screen Media Conference

  • Cooper DG, Sapiro, Anderson L, Hall S (2014) ‘Simple, Medium, and Shebang’: Trevor Jones and the Development of the Toolkit'. Music and the Moving Image IX

Internet publications

  • Cooper DG, Sapiro IP (2005) The Petrie Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland (Website). None.


  • Sapiro IP (2010) Concerto for Trumpet and Wind Orchestra.

  • Sapiro IP Chatzi Kaddish. (Unpublished)


  • Sapiro IP How do you Create a Film Score?.

Research Projects & Grants

Awards Received

  • 2018-19 British Academy Small Research Grant: Archival Connections: Relating Creative and Performing Practice in Early Broadway Musical-Theatre Works
  • 2013-16 AHRC: The Professional Career and Output of Trevor Jones (PI Professor David Cooper, CI Dr Ian Sapiro)
  • 2011 Royal Musical Association
  • 2010 Royal Musical Association
  • 2009 University of Leeds, Centre for Practice-Led Research in the Arts
  • 2009 Music and Letters Trust

Contributions to Successful Applications (where not named in the application)

  • 2008-12 AHRC Research Grant: Nineteenth-Century String Editions (PI Professor Clive Brown)
  • 2008-09 British Academy Small Research Grant: A Digital Archive of Film Music by Michael Nyman (PI Professor David Cooper)
  • 2005-06 AHRC Small Grants in the Creative and Performing Arts: A Digital Archive of Film Music Materials by Trevor Jones (PI Professor David Cooper)

Research Centres & Groups

Founder Member of the British Audio-Visual Research Network (BARN)

External Appointments

Editorial Advisory Board member for the journal American Music.

PhD & Postdoctoral Supervision

Sarah Hall – The Television Scores of Trevor Jones

PhD Thesis

‘Scoring the Score: The Role of the Orchestrator in the Contemporary British Film Industry’

Supervisors: Prof. David Cooper and Prof. Derek Scott

Investigations into the processes of film-score production are usually centred on the composer, and focus principally on the American film industry based inHollywood. While such an approach may be understandable given the large volume of contextual information available in the general film-music literature, the prevalence of this line of enquiry has led to assumptions about film-scoring processes which may not hold true in other branches of the industry, or when scrutinised from different perspectives. Accordingly, this thesis breaks away from the normal starting point for a process-based evaluation of film music. The research area is shifted in terms of both protagonist and location, the investigation instead focusing on the role of the orchestrator in the contemporary British film industry.

As a member of the composer’s support team, the orchestrator is often overlooked or merely mentioned in passing in much of the published literature, despite composers often stressing the value of such personnel. The current author conducted interviews with ten orchestrators and composers currently active in the British business to generate primary evidence of theUKfilm-score production process, and provide proper clarification of the role of the orchestrator in this industry. When considered alongside the existing scholarship, this testimony also enables a re-evaluation of film-score production processes in a non-Hollywood context.

Additionally, this research attempts to properly establish the differences between orchestration and arrangement, a terminological minefield which permeates much of the film-music literature and has significantly hindered understanding of the role orchestrators and arrangers play in the production of a film score. The findings of the thesis also provide the basis for a new, non-linear model of film scoring, which more accurately situates orchestration and arrangement within the process, and reflects the complex inter-relationships between the various aspects of score production.

Professional Practice

Conductor and Musical Director

  • Devonshire Hall Music Society (orchestra and musical theatre productions), Leeds (1998-2002)
  • Leeds University Union Music Society Chamber Orchestra (2000-01)
  • Headingley Amateur Operatic Society, Leeds (2000-02)
  • Buttershaw St Paul’s Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society, Bradford (2002-2017)
  • Leeds University Union Music Society Symphonic Wind Orchestra (2003-04)
  • Bradford Youth Players (2004-2017)
  • Dewsbury Collegians (2008)
  • Halifax Light Opera Society (2008-10)
  • Guiseley Amateur Operatic Society (2009, 2015, 2017-present)
  • Aireborough Combined Societies’ Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert (2012)
  • ‘Leeds in Harmony’: United Hebrew Congregation Choir and Leeds University Union Music Society Chamber Orchestra (2012)

Public Engagement/Impact/Knowledge Transfer Activities

  • Programme notes for musical-theatre productions (2006-2017)
  • Host of a session, ‘Soundtrack – Music in Film’, at the Filmmakers’ Weekend, part of the Bradford International Film Festival, National Media Museum, Bradford (20 April 2013)
  • Various public, private and educational events associated with the AHRC-funded Trevor Jones film-music research project (2013-2016)

© Copyright Leeds 2018