Dr Ian Sapiro

Dr Ian Sapiro


I work principally in film music, musical theatre, adaptation, orchestration and the overlaps between them. I began my musical studies at Leeds in 1997 and have since gained an undergraduate degree, postgraduate qualifications in composition (MMus 2001, M.Phil 2005), and my PhD (2011), which investigated 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.

I have been active as a professional conductor of amateur musical theatre productions for over 20 years. I am currently musical director of Guiseley AOS, Leeds, and spent fifteen years as musical director for Buttershaw St Paul's AODS, Bradford, and Bradford Youth Players (Act 2). I have also conducted musicals and concerts in Leeds, Halifax, Dewsbury, Liverpool and Birkenhead. In 2017 I 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. I 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.


  • Deputy Director of Student Education
  • Director of Postgraduate Taught Studies

Research interests

My main research interests are:

  • Film music, particularly film-score production process, and especially the orchestration of film music
  • Musicals and musical theatre on stage and screen
  • 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

My 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. I interviewed a number of leading US- and UK-based film-score orchestrators and composers in the course of my 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. My first book, Ilan Eshkeri's 'Stardust': a Film Score Guide, was published by Scarecrow Press in 2013. I 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. I have published on the working practices of Trevor Jones and Michael Nyman alongside Professor Cooper, and have 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 me. I have 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 Misérables for the cinema (Edinburgh University Press, 2017), and a chapter focused on filmic adaptations of the stage musical Annie is in press. I am an active conductor and musical director, which affords me opportunities to apply my knowledge of musicals in a practical context, and I am keen to explore the relationship between theory and practice in musical theatre.

Orchestration and Arrangement

Often misrepresented as the same thing, I am very interested in approaches to, and the practical application of orchestration and arrangement. I have created new definitions of the two processes as they relate to screen music - detailed in my book Scoring the Score - and I am an active orchestrator and arranger of music.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD in Film Music
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education
  • M.Phil (Composition)
  • MMus Composition
  • BA Music

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the HEA
  • British Audio-Visual Research Network

Student education

Most of my teaching is in the areas of film music and musical theatre, and covers a range of theoretical, historical and practical perspectives. I am also often actively involved in the School of Music's ensemble performance provision as a conductor for orchestral and choral-orchestral projects.

Research groups and institutes

  • Music as Culture

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>