Robert Townson, the veteran producer who helped build Varèse Sarabande into L.A.’s leading soundtrack label, is leaving after more than 30 years to launch a new venture producing live concerts of film music.
Concord Music, which purchased Varèse last year from Cutting Edge Group, has eliminated Townson’s vice-president position effective Jan. 31. “I have spent the past thirty-plus years helping build this incredible music company, and I am very proud of the legacy I leave behind,” Townson said in a statement to Variety.
“My career has included over 1,400 of the label’s frontline soundtracks and historic film-music restorations, new recordings and countless international live film music events. Robert Townson Concerts, previously Varèse Live, will not be affected by this and will continue its bright future course,” he added.
The announcement comes on the heels of the label’s 40th anniversary last year, which was marked with a best-of CD/LP release and a pair of anniversary concerts with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra hosted by the producer.
Townson’s final Varèse productions will be “one last batch of Varèse CD Club titles being announced in February as well as a final few releases over the coming weeks and months,” including a Season 6 “House of Cards” CD and LPs of both Jerry Goldsmith’s “L.A. Confidential” and Bernard Herrmann’s “Vertigo,” two classic scores from the past.
Sig Sigworth, president of Craft Recordings, Varèse’s sister label under the Concord umbrella, told Variety: “We’d like to thank Bob for the dedication and help in building Varèse Sarabande into something that is admired by music lovers across the globe. The label will continue as the preeminent film music label, signing new scores and soundtracks from films, television and video games while continuing to develop deluxe products and unique offerings from the label’s vast catalog.”
Adds Townson: “Film music is my life. Personally I will, of course, have a new act coming… My relationships and dear personal friendships with each of the composers are ongoing. I will take them with me into this next chapter and cherish them always. Many thanks and much love to all who supported my activities at the label over the last three decades. It has been an extraordinary musical adventure that we’ve all shared thus far, and I am excited for the future that lay ahead.”
Townson indicated that he “has received, and been fielding, offers relating to both my concerts and album productions. While the Varèse Sarabande back catalog will remain at Concord Music, the concepts I have brought to the label will now be reimagined by me elsewhere.”
Robert Townson Productions will present Wojciech Kilar’s score for “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” the 1992 Francis Ford Coppola film, live to picture at the Krakow Film Music Festival in May and again at the Filmucité Festival in Tenerife, Canary Islands. Also at Filmucité, Townson will present “Cinema Morricone,” featuring L.A. flutist Sara Andon and Italian pianist Simone Pedroni.
Townson will also present French pianist Jean-Michel Bernard, along with Andon and other musicians, in a celebration of composer Lalo Schifrin on April 25 at Vibrato Grill Jazz in Los Angeles.
Concord, meanwhile, is expected to focus more on Varese’s vast catalog of film and pop recordings. Cary Mansfield, who has been with the company since 1993 and has managed its Varese Vintage line, is remaining and will spearhead those efforts.