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Soundtrax: Special Edition
- Episode 2020-3a
July 7, 2020

More than 170 musical artists from six continents around the world joined together to create a music video of the Oscar nominated original song “I’m Standing With You” written by iconic songwriter Diane Warren, which supports of the United Nations Foundation’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization (WHO).  The arrangement of the song is by Emmy nominated TV/Film/Concert composer Sharon Farber who along with the video’s award-winning director Gev Miron, worked together in collaboration to produce the meaningful video.
Watch the video here.

Four-time Emmy Award nominated composer, winner of the 2013 Society of Composers and Lyricists Award for “Outstanding work in the Art of Film Music, the 2012 Visionary Award In Music by The Women’s International Film & Television Showcase, winner of the Telly Award, a member of both the Executive Committees of the Music Branches of The Academy of Motion Pictures and the TV Academy, and the Vice President of the Alliance for Women Film Composers, Sharon Farber is a celebrated Film, TV and concert music composer.

Along with songwriter Diane Warren and film director Gev Miron, Sharon Farber spearheaded the “I’m Standing With You” project as a way to support the world through the power of music during the disastrous advances of the Coronavirus. Like the virus itself, the project grew and spread worldwide, but with a message of hope, care, and comfort.

“One day in early March my friend, director Gev Miron, called me and said “Sharon, what are we doing for Coronavirus?” Farber told Soundtrax in a recent interview. “I’d been thinking the same thing, and both of us agreed that it needed to be a great song. ‘Well, if it’s a song, there’s no one else to call but Diane!’ I called my dear friend Diane Warren, and she got excited about the idea. We were looking for the best song of hers (which was a challenge because all of Diane’s songs are “the best song!”) to reflect what we wanted to say—a song of inspiration, comfort, and uplifting.” They quickly realized that Diane’s Oscar-nominated song “I’m Standing With You”, written for the 2019 film BREAKTHROUGH, had the kind of message they were looking for.

“I arranged the song for a small ensemble, as the original idea was to collaborate with MusicCares and the Recording Academy, and do something locally for the music community of Los Angeles,” Sharon explained. “However, at one point we understood that this needed to be much bigger—it needed to be global.” The three creators of the project then began reaching out to friends in the music business to help with the project. Through Diane’s friend, producer Dannielle Thomas, Diane brought in world-renowned opera soprano Renée Fleming early in the process, who was the first to join. Then Chris Mann joined. Then all the others… “The minute Renée said yes, others started saying yes,” Sharon said. “Basically everyone we called said yes! More and more people joined us and we realized that we had people from almost every continent— and many faiths. However, to have virtually every continent, we still needed Africa. So I called my friend Gilad Millo, who used to be a diplomat and now is a huge rock star in Kenya, and he brought us the Kenyan Singer, Wahu Kagwi.

The project continued to grow. Farber contacted her friend Libi Lebel, conductor of the Texas Medical Center Orchestra [the TMCO was founded in 2000, and is one of the few community orchestras in the United States to be based in the medical community]. When I shared our idea, Libi got excited and said ‘Let me see who out of my orchestra would like to be a part of it.’” The answer came back within two hours: “I have 75 musicians who want to be part of it!”  Sharon replied “Hold on, this arrangement is for a small ensemble!” to which Libi replied, “Well, rearrange it!”

“So I did. I rearranged the song for full orchestra, choir and rhythm section, and called my friend Patrick Bolton, the music director of Spirit of David Gospel Choir, and invited the choir to participate, to which he immediately replied ‘Absolutely!’” said Sharon. “On top of that I called my friend Tawnee Lynn and other friends—singers, instrumentalists—together we brought in about 30 additional singers and 30 instrumentalists who are professional musicians here in L.A.! At that point, we had 170 musicians!”

The team’s musical core group was made up of Tal Bergman on drums, Tony Levin on bass, Mike Stern on guitar, Sharon on piano, and Tina Guo on cello. “These were our featured soloists,” Sharon said. “Then I thought, I have these collaborations between classical singers and pop singers—what am I missing? I realized I wanted to bring a little bit more of the world sound, so I called my friend Omar Faruk Tekbilek [a Turkish musician and composer who plays a wide range of wind, string, percussion and electronic instruments] and he came on board (thanks to Ofer Ziv, Omar’s manager). Our director, Gev Miron, brought us famed Indian singer Hariharan, and he wound up improvising this really beautiful Indian melody that I featured. With these people we felt this project would represent the world in an inclusive and inspiring way—we now had people of all colors and faiths, which was perfect for a song that represents unity and oneness.

Farber and Miron wanted the video to convey the fact that music has no borders. “Music is for everyone,” Farber said. “This virus has no borders, it doesn’t matter who you are, what the color of your skin is, where you’re from, what your faith is. This virus does not distinguish between anyone, and with music—it’s the same thing. We are here for everybody. For example, the song features Rita from Israel and Arash Avin from Iran, and these are two countries that don’t really see eye-to-eye, but the singers didn’t care, because they wanted to inspire and music is the key to do exactly that. It was important that we convey this message of peace and collaboration, standing together with the world.”

Finding the musicians and singers was the first step in the process. To record such a large number of people in very different locales, and to do so during the pandemic, became an immense amount of work. After Sharon completed her revised arrangement of Diane’s song, she and Gev brought in their friend, singer-songwriter Liyah Bey Lapidot, to record a demo of the full song that could be sent out to the singers and instrumentalists to prepare their performances. “Liyah did an amazing job, she’s a superb singer,” said Sharon. “Everything else in the demo was from my computer, and I sent that out with very clear instructions for all participants to clap on the first beat of the first measure (after one free bar) so that we would have a sync point for when we would mix it all together. Everybody recorded at home—we gave very clear instructions an asked that everybody use an earpiece or headphones so that only their voice or instrument would come through, and not the playback.

Veteran recording engineer Michael Stern was brought in to mix this immense project together, under Sharon’s direction as to which performances would be used and in what order. “Michael Stern mixed together 260 separate channels, to the point that he needed to get another system to work on everything!” said Sharon. “While he was working on the instrumentalists and on the choir, I was working on the main singers’ recordings, deciding who would sing what lines, which solo singers will be mixed together to create duets and trios, and where the soloists join the choir and how. Even with the score and demo, everyone is unique and they all sung with different phrasing and improvised at the end, based on my request. It was a huge amount of work to just make it all work together—a real challenge, but I enjoyed it, as they were all singing so beautifully. After I was done I sent that to Michael to add to the full mix he was working on. Michael did an amazing job and we then sent it to famed Mastering Engineer Pat Sullivan for a final pass, which was the icing on the cake!”

From the beginning, director Gev Miron knew that this would not be a Zoom type of project. He wanted to create something more unique and special. “Gev came up with the idea of the empty streets of the world,” said Sharon. “Even in the most beautiful and most toured places, everybody was facing the same thing: empty streets and social isolating. Gev sent his cinematographers friends from around the world out to shoot videos of the empty streets from the communities where our singers came from.” That allowed him to put the singers in their respective countries, with their images shown on the sides of the buildings or famous landmarks that were practically empty. For the orchestra he set up an empty stage at the SABAN theater, where Sharon is the Music director of Temple of the Arts (the Temple's great cantor, Ilysia Pierce,  is also featured in the song), then inserted screens on each chair as if there were real musicians playing there. Sharon instructed Gev in regards to placing the “orchestra” and each chair/screen was arranged as a real player, with violins on the left, cello/bass on the right and so on, to create a sense of a real orchestral event.

“Another thing we wanted to create was the sense of a concert. We wanted people to feel like they’re at home watching a real event so we asked all the participants to wear nice clothes, like they were performing formally, except for the players of the TMCO orchestra,” Sharon explained. “We asked the Medical Orchestra to wear their scrubs so we could convey that this was also for the people who save our lives every day.”

As the project rolled toward completion, Sharon, with her musical composing and arrangement skills, and Gev with his unique filmmaker’s eye, worked together to determine how the video should be edited, which was also done by Gev with his unique vision. “Gev did everything video wise,” Sharon said. “I would tell him, okay from 9-seconds to 25-seconds it’s this singer, and from there it’s this singer—so he could place them in the order I’d arranged. He’s brilliant and he did an amazing job—a real unique and artistic video. And of course Diane is amazing and the song is so beautiful! She brought wonderful people to this project, like Valeria Altobelli, who brought the great opera singer Sumi Jo and Federico Paciotti. All of us together were able to bring in many remarkable talents that are acclaimed in their own countries and we are grateful for each and every one of them.

The team also wanted to bring in a global charity, so Dianne contacted her friend Bonnie Abaunza, whose organization works closely with filmmakers, artists, and other organizations to develop social impact campaigns for films and documentaries. “Bonnie connected us to Dani Lemmon Zapotozcny at the United Nations Foundation who became partners of the project and hosted the song on the UN’s channel, and that allowed this project to become more than just a song—now we had a charity component so we felt that we have an added impact,” said Sharon. “If people feel like donating to the cause, then we did something to better the world. That’s basically what we wanted—to create something meaningful and inspiring on all levels.”

Through Diane’s contacts, the team also connected withJenna Rubenstein at Google, and she helped bringing everything together in terms of YouTube and hosting the song on the UN’s channel, as they were on a tight deadline to complete the project. “All these wonderful people were so integral to the success of the song and we are grateful for their input and help,” said Sharon. “A shout out also to Jeff Sanderson and Ray Costa for their immense work on the PR part of the project.”

Sharon wanted to include a child singer whose solo voice would open and close the video, and ground the innocence of a child at the midpoint as well. She quickly found an experienced singer—in her 9-year old daughter Eden Farber-Kontesz , who has already sung professionally and performed in many events, including in front of a crowd of 45,000 at the Angel Stadium.“Gev said, ‘We have to have Eden because a child’s high voice is so innocent and so beautiful that we have to start and end the song with it—the moment people hear it, it gets into your heart.”  “I’m a very proud mommy!” added Sharon with a smile.

Putting the project together was an immense challenge for all the team members, but worth it for the final result. “It was an incredible amount of work—I was working something like 17 hours a day for two months. It was crazy!” she said, especially as she was scoring a film at the same time. “But it was so worth it. The collaboration between everybody was truly remarkable. And the amazing thing was that no one said no! In fact, everybody I called was grateful and felt fortunate to be a part of this project as everybody was feeling the isolation and effects of the pandemic. They all wanted to contribute to a project that was created in order to help all of us, no matter where we are.”
“ ‘I’m Standing With You’ has such a good vibe, and great energy,” Sharon concluded. “We feel that we’ve created something that really might bring some comfort. If we can in any way ease the pain through the power of music, then I think this is what music is all about.”

To donate to the United Nation Foundation’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO, see the video’s YouTube page here.

Featured artists on “I’m Standing With You” include: Soprano Renée Fleming (US), Soprano Sumi Jo (South Korea), The Voice’s Chris Mann (US), Tina Arena (Australia), Mario Frangoulis (Greece), Federico Paciotti (Italy), Russell Watson (UK), Master instrumentalist Omar Faruk Tekbilek (Turkey), Hariharan (India), Rita (Israel), Valeria Atobelli (Italy,) Arash Avin (Iran), Wahu (Kenya), Cellist Tina Guo (US), Pastor Michael Gott (Unity Church, US) and Cantor Ilysia Pierce (Temple of the Arts, Beverly Hills, US), Liyah Bey Lapidot (US), 9 year old Eden Kontesz-Farber (US) , The Texas Medical Symphony Orchestra comprised of 73 members, Spirit of David Gospel Choir (US), and more than 80 Los Angeles musicians.

For news, bio, and more information on Sharon Farber see
For more information on Sharon’s film music, see my interview with her, included in my February 2019 column.


Randall D. Larson was for many years senior editor for Soundtrack Magazine, publisher of CinemaScore: The Film Music Journal, and a film music columnist for Cinefantastique magazine.  A specialist on horror film music, he is the author of Musique Fantastique: A Survey of Film Music in the Fantastic Cinema and Music From the House of Hammer.  He has written liner notes for more than 120 soundtrack CDs for such labels as La-La Land, FSM, Perseverance, Silva Screen, Harkit, Quartet, and BSX Records.  A largely re-written and expanded Second Edition of Musique Fantastique is being published: the first of this four-book series is now available.  See:

Randall can be contacted at