Graham McCusker composes for new BBC drama

Postgraduate baritone Graham McCusker has written vocal music for the upcoming BBC adaptation of Philip Pullman’s best-selling trilogy, His Dark Materials.

Starring James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson and Lin-Manuel Miranda, the drama is written by British dramatist Jack Thorne and follows 11-year-old heroine Lyra, who travels through parallel worlds with a daemon and a truth-telling golden compass.

Graham, who started composing at the age of seven and completed undergraduate studies in 2014, was commissioned by the BBC as a composer and arranger, working additionally as an onset music coach, rehearsing and teaching his new music to the cast, and conducting in the wings during recording sessions.

He said: ‘The opportunity arose after a friend mentioned that the BBC was looking for a composer to write vocal music for a new series. I applied, and got a phone call two weeks’ later saying I’d been shortlisted alongside three others. I was then asked to write a demo to a brief they emailed over, asking me to return it in time for the following day’s lunch break, when it would be played to director Otto Bathurst. He then picked what he thought was the most fitting, and the rest is history.’

His Dark Materials’ is an eight-part series, airing on BBC1 from Sunday 3 November at 8pm. It will also be available internationally on HBO from the Monday 4 November.

28 October 2019