“Will and Grace” Composer Lior Rosner Discusses Scoring the Hit NBC Show and More

NBC’s favorite comedy, Will and Grace, is currently on hiatus until February 6 when the final episodes begin airing. The winter finale, titled “The Grief Panda”, found Will (Eric McCormack) and McCoy (Matt Bomer) in the aftermath of breaking up. So Grace (Debra Messing) and Jack (Sean Hayes) hire the Grief Panda to help Will process his pain. All while Karen (Megan Mullally) is completely occupied with her new baseball team, making Grace believe that she has to fire Karen in order to set her free.  A part of Will and Grace not always talked about is the show’s lighthearted score and theme, which viewers can all recite in their head by now. Before the show ends next year, we decided to spotlight one of the composers of the series, Lior Rosner.  Not only have you heard Rosner’s music on Will and Grace, but he is also the man behind the theme song on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. This holiday season he has a new Sony Music album titled Sugar Plum on the Run, which features narration from the great Jeremy Irons (The Lion King) and also a new Netflix series titled AJ and the Queen that airs in January. Below Rosner discusses all of the projects.

-With this final season of Will and Grace are you doing anything different with the score or keeping with the classic sounds? 

Scott Icenogle (co-composer) and I are keeping most of the classic sounds.  When the show was rebooted a few years ago we did get to remix the theme, giving it a fresh face.  There is a special I Love Lucy episode coming up this season that I got to experiment with some different musical numbers that was a lot of fun. That episode will be airing in April.

-Are there any musical moments that stand out to you this season? If so, can you go into detail why?

I mentioned this above, but the I Love Lucy episode was definitely a stand out for me because I got to recreate some of the music from the original, I Love Lucy series. We had a large band that was put together for this with some very well-known, legendary, LA players. It was a great experience. Also, creating music in that older style was a lot of fun for me too. There is a special surprise at the end that I think fans will really like.

-You are scoring Netflix’s upcoming AJ and the Queen. How has that project been different, musically, then Will and Grace?

It’s a lot different than Will and Grace, simply by the fact that there is a lot more music. AJ and the Queen has underscore, where Will and Grace does not. AJ is comedy and also a drama, so there are a lot of nuances that need to be addressed psychically.  I co-wrote the main title for the show with RuPaul. That main title song appears in a few of the episodes as RuPaul’s character, Ruby, is on stage performing. There is second song I also created for the show that reoccurs that I think viewers will enjoy.

-You have a very different project then Will and Grace out right now, Sugar Plum on the Run. Can you talk about this project and what listeners could expect to hear?

After moving to the US from Israel I became fascinated with the idea of Christmas and the phenomenon that is the Christmas season.  There are classic holiday specials on television every night and radio channels solely dedicated to holiday music. So, I always thought of adding my own musical voice to the acclaimed Christmas canon.

No piece is more well-known with the Christmas season than Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. When I used to listen to the ballet, I really wished that Tchaikovsky had continued developing the music from the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy — so I chose to craft a set of variations based on that musical material.

I composed a set of eight variations that paid homage to the tradition of Russian music, imagining what would have happened if all my favorite Russian composers were each commissioned to write a variation on Tchaikovsky’s theme.

-In a previous interview you said that Sugar Plum on the Run was initially written as a piece for two pianos. At what point did you decide it needed to be more than that with more instruments? Then with a narrator, Jeremy Irons?

I decided to add more than just two pianos very quickly.  I first start off a lot of my scores very minimal and then go back and add more things to give it depth.  This is just my work process.

-You composed a set of eight variations that paid homage to the tradition of Russian music, imagining what would have happened if all your favorite Russian composers were each commissioned to write a variation on Tchaikovsky’s theme. Who are some of those favorite composers?

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Aram Khachaturian, Modest Mussorgsky and Alexander Scriabin.

-Will there be more installments of Sugar Plum on the Run?

Yes. There is actually an animation project in the works. I am definitely planning on expanding this brand.

-Lastly, we have to ask about the theme to The Ellen DeGeneres Show you wrote. What sort of direction were you initially given for this? How long did it take to come up with the final product?

I was a fan of her stand up, so I knew her style ahead of time before I was approached to do her show theme. I tried to come up with a track that had broad appeal. A track with a mix between pop, country and R & B. The goal was for it to be super catchy, so that audiences could relate to it anywhere they were located, from Kentucky to New York. It took about 3-4 days to finish it.

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