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22.05.2019

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Krzysztof Zanussi
Krzysztof Zanussi
Bartosz Chajdecki
Bartosz Chajdecki
Don Davis
Don Davis
Alexandre Desplat
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Hans-Martin Buff
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The inauguration of the 12th Film Music Festival!

“The human voice has an impressive range of emotional depth and can therefore produce a great sound effect in a film, but also give it a truly intimate quality – all of this works well off screen. I am happy to be a part of such a celebration,” said Swedish composer and arranger Mikael Carlsson after Tuesday's Cinema Chorale Concert at the Church of St Catherine in Krakow. Yesterday, the most beautiful film motifs arranged for an a cappella choir and solo soprano inaugurated the 12th edition of the Krakow Film Music Festival.

It was an unprecedented event – for the first time in the FMF's history film music was presented in a purely vocal version, arranged for a mixed choir. “We've been thinking about doing this for ten years and finally we made our dream come true – we organised a phenomenal, mystical choral concert, which worked beautifully in the Gothic interior of the church of St Catherine, where each of the pieces has been chosen and sung with utmost and true love”, said Robert Piaskowski, Artistic Director of FMF.

The repertoire of Cinema Chorale was very broad and included arrangements of musical themes from various genres of films, in five languages (Latin, German, French, Old Slavic and Yiddish). The three-part formula of the concert was put into a framework of sorts – we started with a dark Agnus Dei from the so-called “small mass” composed by Wojciech Kilar for the historical TV series King of the Last Days by Tom Toelle, and concluded with Agnus Dei based on the famous Adagio for strings by Samuel Barber, used in Roland Joffé’s remake of The Scarlet Letter. The first part also featured the most beautiful themes from such films as Carlito's Way by Brian de Palma, (Patrick Doyle’s Libera me  arranged by Mikael Carlsson), Paolo Sorentino’s The Great Beauty (My Heart's in the Highlands by Arvo Pärt for solo soprano and organ) and Luchin Visconti’s Death in Venice (the poignant Adagietto from Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor , written in the first years of the twentieth century out of love for the composer's later wife, Alma Schindler). The middle part of the concert was filled with gems of world film music – apart from two themes arranged for a female choir (Vois sur ton chemin by Brunon Coulais from Christophe Barratier’s Les Choristes and I lie by David Lang from The Great Beauty) we heard two world premieres (In memoriam by Bruno Coulais from Les Choristes and Angele Dei by Ennio Morricone arranged by Marek Pawełek from Roland Joffé's The Mission), as well as fragments of soundtracks by Don Davis (the moving choir part from John Moore's film Behind Enemy Lines) and Michael Kamen (theme from  Band of Brothers TV series arranged by Mikael Carlsson). In the finale, apart from Samuel Barber's Adagio , the audience could listen to a Latin thanksgiving prayer Non nobis, Domine arranged by Patrick Doyle, used in Kenneth Branagh’s British historical drama Henry V. For encore, the choirs sung the oldest Polish religious song: Bogurodzica. The repertoire of the concert was developed in cooperation with Soundtracks Live.

According to the special guests of yesterday's event – American composer and conductor Don Davis and the aforementioned Swedish creator and artistic director of Soundtracks Live Mikael Carlsson, choir music is a tremendous force in the cinema, giving the film space and evoking a full range of emotions in the audiences. “Choirs bring an element of sacrum to film music. For example, Band of Brothers was originally composed for orchestra and choir, but I've already created an arrangement for an a cappella ensemble, because I heard a kind of anthem without words in the main theme. In Carlito's Way , in turn, I decided to use the Christian text –  Libera me, a part of the funeral mass – in order to reinforce the sacred dimension of this music, reveal the main character's internal conflict and illustrate his search for liberation,” Mikael Carlsson explained. Don Davis added: “The choir, can strengthen the dimension of a particular scene like nothing else. The axis of the theme for choir that I composed for  Behind Enemy Lines is a Bosnian folk song that was sung where mass murders and executions took place. In this film, all the emotions connected with the war were expressed by the choir.”

The church of St Catherine of Alexandria and St Margaret in Krakow was filled with the audience, who came to see Jolanta Kowalska-Pawlikowska (soprano), Filip Presseisen (organ) and the Pro Musica Mundi choir — a project team founded in 2007 on the occasion of the 750th anniversary of the founding of the city of Krakow, which has been working with the Krakow Film Music Festival on large simultaneous productions created for every edition of the event. The whole event was hosted by Professor Wiesław Delimat – artistic director of Pro Musica Mundi, Krakow conductor and organist, who focuses on choral ensembles. “Sung music has a certain level of nobility, stemming from the direct transmission of human emotions,” Wieslaw Delimat believes. “We are alone with our own voice, supported by emotions and inidual sensitivity. In the choir, emotions and feelings of several dozen singers meet to form a single organism. If they perform music written by the hands of the masters, which was the case yesterday at Cinema Chorale, then a fantastic poem of human voices is created. Satisfaction is felt by the performers, but also by the listeners, to whom the choir speaks in a human language,” the conductor added.

We are in for the second day of the festival, with an evening screening of Bram Stoker's Dracula, a costume film by Francis Ford Coppola with music by Wojciech Kilar performed live by the Beethoven Academy Orchestra, the Polish Radio Choir and soloists under the baton of Don Davis, as well as the first meetings of the Audiovisual Forum. Join us for the world premiere of Dracula Live in Concert at the Krzysztof Penderecki Auditorium Hall. at the ICE Kraków Congress Centre. Audiodescription will be available for people with visual impairments.

Maria Wilczek-Krupa

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