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Hans Zimmer Live: Composer Breaks Out With Performing Career

Last month’s unexpected appearance by Hans Zimmer conducting an all-female string section behind Pharrell Williams on “Saturday Night Live,” it turns out, was just the beginning of Zimmer’s newfound performing career.

On July 18, he will join several other composers on stage at the Hollywood Bowl for “DreamWorks Animation in Concert,” celebrating the studio’s 20th anniversary, with host Jack Black and Zimmer’s fellow composers including Harry Gregson-Williams and John Powell.

But the big one, he revealed to Variety, will be Oct. 10-11 in London (venue still to be announced) when Zimmer performs many of his movie hits with an orchestra and a pop band. Plans are still sketchy. “I’m still trying to hunt down the idea,” he admits.

“It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do,” he says, despite having what he calls “really bad stage fright. If I don’t do it now, that’s something I will regret.”

Zimmer participated in an entire concert of his works (including excerpts from “Gladiator,” “The Thin Red Line,” “Driving Miss Daisy” and his Oscar-winning “The Lion King”) in Ghent, Belgium, in 2000, when he was honored by the Flanders Film Festival. He returned there in 2011 to pay tribute to his friend and publicist Ronni Chasen in another performance.

He’s been known to be dragged out occasionally to perform at film premieres: With guitarist Johnny Marr, he performed a 20-minute suite from “Inception” at the film’s 2010 Los Angeles premiere, and his “Magnificent Six” rock and pop collaborators on his “Amazing Spider-Man 2” score joined him for the New York premiere April 24.

“I’m going to figure out how to do a few shows,” Zimmer says. “As a film composer, you don’t write about what you see on the screen. You write the subtext. So I thought, is there a way of illuminating that subtext, a way of presenting the music in a different context but still have some visual elements?”

He is not keen on the current vogue of re-creating the score while the complete film unspools in a concert setting (although his own “Gladiator” will be performed that way at London’s Royal Albert Hall on May 24-28 with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus). However he is planning to perform with both an orchestra and, it appears, at least a handful of rock ’n’ roll soloists.

“I’ve got some friends who might want to help me,” Zimmer teases, suggesting that Marr and Pharrell Williams might be on the London bill with him. He also suggested that further concert dates are likely, both in the U.S. and Europe.

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