Private Project

the Choir and Conductor

“If you have any interest in music at all being in a choir is fun…it’s like so fun.”
- Billie Eilish, 6 years in choir starting at age 8

What happens when a woman gets the chance to conduct?

The film the CHOIR AND CONDUCTOR is about a visionary conductor and her transformative impact on thousands of children who love singing together including Billie Eilish and how she created one of the world’s foremost choirs. “It’s the best children’s choir I've ever heard,” says conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen and one that Gustavo Dudamel, John Williams, Billie Eilish, Peter Sellars, and John Mayer have performed with, the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus.

The story takes place in Iceland and Norway where conductor Anne Tomlinson leads her last music tour with 65 choristers ages 12 to 16. The children sing songs of social injustice, of mothers and martyrs, of warriors of change and songs of beauty, reminding the packed audiences that songs are poetry in the way Dylan’s songs are literature as recognized by the Nobel Prize. Says 14-year-old Ally: “She doesn’t think of us as just kids who are singing. She says we’re artists and to think and perform like that.” In a Reykjavik rehearsal with a combined Icelandic and LA chorus of 95 choristers, we see the special skills a great conductor needs to elicit children’s musical gifts. “The people who conduct children most brilliantly I think are the people who look at music through a young person’s way of thinking,” says conductor Tomlinson.

At City Hall in Oslo where the Nobel Prize for Peace ceremony takes place we see the children sing the moving Holocaust song “Even When He is Silent” against images of President Obama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize and hear 13 year old Jamie say: “If we hadn’t found this choir, we wouldn’t be singers – she takes ordinary people and turns them in to extraordinary musicians.” We see hundreds of people on the streets of Bergen and Oslo, in the mountain towns and concert halls of Iceland and Norway listening transfixed - the children have become ambassadors inspiring hope that the next generation will create a bright future.

With nationwide cutbacks in the arts conductor Anne Tomlinson says, “It’s so important that our children not lose their voices and that our country not lose the voice of their children.” The tour concludes in Los Angeles with the conductor preparing, for the last time in her 22 tenure, the children for Otello the opera at the Hollywood Bowl. Says 14- year old Mwi, “She’s an incredible example of what it’s like to be a strong, powerful woman in a world that is mostly controlled by men. She has taught us how to be individuals and how to find who we are through music – she often says we’re going to change the world someday.”

  • Freida Lee Mock
    Maya Lin and Anita: Speaking Truth To Power.
  • Freida Lee Mock
    Maya Lin and Anita: Speaking Truth To Power.
  • Mike Aguilar
  • Helen Bing
  • Freida Lee Mock
  • Meghan Hooper
  • Anne Tomlinson
    Key Cast
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  • Genres:
    Music, Drama
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 30 minutes 30 seconds
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Freida Lee Mock

Academy and Emmy Award winner Freida Lee Mock is a LA-based director, writer and producer of feature length and short form theatrical documentary films. Her 5 Academy Award nominations include the winner Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision, a feature film about creativity and the designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C and Oscar nominees Rose Kennedy, a Life to Remember; SING! about one of the world’s foremost children’s choirs; Never Give UP, about the holocaust survivor and conductor Dr. Herbert Zipper; and To Live or Let Die, a story about medical ethics.

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