Nate Barr celebrating his Emmy
By Susan Miele
Oct, 14, 2020: Nathan Barr, Bronxville High School class of '91, scored an Emmy Award last month for "Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music" for his work on the Netflix mini-series "Hollywood," a period piece set in the 1940s.
Barr was also nominated in the same category for his work on Amazon's "Carnival Row," as well as in the category of "Outstanding Music Composition for a Limited Series, Movie or Special" for "Hollywood." These nods add to the two Emmy nominations he earned in 2013, also in the category of "Main Title Theme Music for 'The Americans and for Hemlock Grove,'"
Barr was not always keen on playing music. While a student in Bronxville, he opted to play the cello in the school orchestra, reasoning that because the instrument's size would necessitate a ride home each day, his mother would surely get worn out, and he could therefore quit. Not so, however. His mother, Penny Barr, a piano teacher, was thrilled.
The Barrs' Bronxville home was full of instruments, including a harpsichord and mandolin. A variety of musical genres was enjoyed in the home. Little did Nate Barr know at the time, his adoption of the cello would eventually segue into an Emmy Award-winning career in music composition.
In addition to his parents' influence, Barr cites the impact made by Bronxville Schools orchestra teacher Denise Lutter, who nurtured his talent and interest by generously investing time in ear training and other extracurricular musical education. It was around this time that Nate Barr began developing an interest in music composition for film and television.
Perhaps inspired by the collection of instruments in his Bronxville home, Barr purchased a 1366-pipe Wurlitzer organ in 2013 that had been used by 20th Century Fox from 1928 to 1998, including in such classics as The Sound of Music, Patton, and The Day the Earth Stood Still.
The organ now resides in his 8,000-square-foot Bandrika Studios, along with his collection of mechanical instruments, such as an orchestrion (once used in settings like saloons and whorehouses to resemble the sounds of an orchestra at the push of a button), and other historic and exotic instruments—among them a human bone trumpet from Tibet, a rare Glass Armonica, and gourd cellos.
Barr describes the craft of composing main title theme music as being "like a puzzle," with the challenge of communicating a story in as little as a minute or, in one example of his work, even 21 seconds. Melody is particularly important, he notes—especially given that current technology allows viewers to fast forward past his work.
Nate Barr now resides in Los Angeles.