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Two great artists come together in the recently released album called "Chasing Pianos". This features the music of film composer Michael Nyman from films such as "The Piano", "Drowning by Numbers", "The Diary Of Anne Frank", "The Draughtman's Contract" and "Gattaca", played by the pianist Valentina Lisitsa, who is more often associated with the strictly classical music of Liszt, Rachmaninov, Chopin and Beethoven. The album's title subtly suggests two of Nyman's most famous creations and the cover also pays homage to the soundtrack of Nyman's "The Piano" Chasing Pianos is available at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.
The story of the premiere of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring is well-known, when a riot broke out among the Parisian audience. The Bad Plus (a jazz trio from the US) are unlikely to cause riots, but their daring treatment of Stravinsky's masterpiece shows that the work is still able to inspire and to shock. Their interpretation is very close to the original score, but at the same time it feels new and decidedly avant-garde. Their version seems to mix jazz with pop and ambient, but Stravinsky's mark is still very strong. If you like experimental cross-over interpretations of classical music, you will love this! The album is available at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com and is highly recommended. You can find out more about the Bad Plus at their website.
Patrick Doyle and Kenneth Branagh make one of today's great film partnerships, with the composer's music featuring on many of the director's films. We have this week launched our own celebration of this partnership with a review of Much Ado About Nothing, but the Belfast Film Festival mark their 25 years of film-making in style. The Ulster Orchestra and Belfast Philharmonic Choir will be conducted by James Shearman at the Belfast Waterfront Hall on March 31st. Kenneth Branagh introduces the event in the video and tickets are available on the Ulster Orchestra website.
The BAFTA "Conversations with Screen Composers" series continues on 31st March with Michael Price. Michael Price is best known at the moment for his work (with co-composer David Arnold) on the TV series "Sherlock", for which he has won several awards and nominations. Prior to this recognition as a composer, Price had carved out an award-winning career as a music editor, working on big movies such as "The Lord of the Rings" Trilogy, and a number of UK-made films including "Love Actually", "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason" and "Children of Men". The event will be held in the Elgar Room at the Royal Albert Hall, more details available at The Royal Albert Hall site and the composer's own website is www.michaelpricemusic.com.
Though Alex Ebert got the Golden Globe for his score to "All is Lost", Steven Price's score for Gravity has won the key 'Academy' Awards on both sides of the Atlantic with his earlier BAFTA and now the Oscar. Sci-Fi film scores have frequently focussed on sound effects, with Dimitri Tiomkin and Bernard Herrmann both using Theremins in their scores for the original "The Thing" and "The Day the Earth Stood Still" respectively, followed by husband and wife team Louis and Bebe Barron's groundbreaking fully electronic score to Forbidden Planet in 1956. Steven Price now brings this concept up to date with a score which sits somewhere between sound design, electronic dance music and traditional film score. See all this year's Film Music Awards, all the historic music oscar winners & nominees and our article on Electronic Music.
Awards Season gets underway every January with a string of announcements from the main film awards, starting with the Golden Globes, then the UK BAFTAs and finally the Oscars. If we focus on the "Original Score" or equivalent category, Alex Ebert already has an award in the bag picking up a Golden Globe for his score to "All is Lost". Gravity by Steven Price and "The Book Thief" by John Williams look like strong contenders with 3 nominations each, followed closely by Hans Zimmer with "12 Years a Slave" and Thomas Newman with "Saving Mr. Banks" with 2 nominations apiece. Follow all the score and song categories at our Film Music Awards 2013 page.
Welcome to the first post of 2014!
Looking at recent music-themed movies, we came across "Grand Piano" which stars Elijah Wood as a concert pianist who suffers from stage fright. But mysterious threats from a hitman mean that he is forced to play a concert without any errors or his wife will suffer the consequences. The movie is described as a taut thriller and here is the trailer. The film has so far been shown at various film festivals and may see a limited theatrical release.
It is with regret that we announce the passing of the composer Wojciech Kilar. The Polish composer is known for his classical compositions and his film scores. He scored many Polish-language films before finding international fame and several awards for his first English-language film score, "Bram Stoker's Dracula" for the director Francis Ford Coppola. We went on to score a number of films for Roman Polanski including "Death and the Maiden", "The Ninth Gate" and "The Pianist" (which also featured Chopin's piano music on its soundtrack). He also scored Jane Campion's "The Portrait of a Lady", the TV Mini-series "Napoleon and Europe" for French Television and music from his "Requiem Father Kolbe" was used on the movie "The Truman Show".
If you're looking for new Christmas Music then take a look at "The Snowman and the Snowdog". To celebrate the 30th anniversary of "The Snowman" with its excellent music by Howard Blake, the same team released a sequel in 2012 called "The Snowman and the Snowdog", this time with music by Ilan Eshkeri and Andy Burrows. Although the sequel doesn't feature the song "Walking in the Air" which was later to become a big hit for boy soprano Aled Jones, it does feature a new song "Light the Night" and the incidental music is a similar mix to the original animation. The soundtrack album is available from Amazon.co.uk in the UK and Amazon.com in the US.
"The Artist", a Black and White silent movie was the surprise hit of 2011. Written and directed by Michel Hazanavicius, the film tells the story of an older silent movie actor who finds it hard to maintain his celebrity status following the arival of the "Talkies". The romantic comedy came with a captivating soundtrack by French composer Ludovic Bource whose score spans the slapstick of silent comedy through cinema's golden age to swing and jazz. For this event The London Symphony Orchestra with the composer himself at the piano conducted by Ernst Van Tiel, will perform the oscar-winning soundtrack live to a high-definition screening of the movie. Tickets and more details at the Royal Albert Hall website.
The composer John Tavener has died at the age of 69. The British composer (who was knighted in 2000) is best known for his religious music, though he was influenced by ideas from several different religions. These works often have an ethereal spiritual quality, and his best-known compositions include "The Whale", "Celtic Requiem", "Song for Athene" (performed at the funeral of Princess Diana), "The Veil of the Temple" and "The Protecting Veil" (for cello and strings, which has been performed by Steven Isserlis and by Yo-Yo Ma). Although seen as a religious composer he was also something of a cross-over artist, composing "Prayer of the Heart" for the singer Björk, and composing the soundtrack for Werner Herzog's documentary film "Pilgrimage". Tavener's music was also used to good effect on the soundtrack for "Children of Men" - see this video on youtube.
John Mauceri will present a special programme devoted to film music at London's Royal Festival Hall on November 8th. Called "The Genius of Film Music 1960-1980" the concert will perform music from an exciting 2 decades of film score development. Mauceri (last seen conducting Danny Elfman's concert series) will conduct the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in a number of his own arrangements and suites of music by Alex North, Nino Rota, Franz Waxman, Bernard Herrmann, Bronislau Kaper and Jerry Goldsmith.. More information about the concert is available at the Sound and Music website.
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