10th Krakow Film Music Festival

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  • Wednesday, May 17, 2017 - Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Ten Out of Ten

Want to realise your American dream, take a maiden cruise across the Atlantic or perhaps return to your childhood on the back of a dragon? The 10th anniversary Film Music Festival (17-23 May) will make your dreams come true!

Remember the first ever FMF? In late May 2008, Kraków’s Błonia Meadows resounded with Poland’s first live performance of the soundtrack from the screen adaptation of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings accompanying the film screening. As is often the case, not everyone believed the project would be successful, yet subsequent festivals demonstrated that the event hit the bullseye. Since then, Kraków has become famous for world premieres, expansive performances and special commissions. It now resounds with music by eminent contemporary composers acclaimed by critics and the film industry, and it has been covered by magazines such as “Variety” and “Hollywood Reporter”. The FMF attracts huge crowds of lovers of film music, as well as having driven the global popularity of live orchestral performances accompanying film screenings.

American dream

He is one of few Polish composers whose American dream has come true in Hollywood. Originally from Kraków, Abel Korzeniowski has been living in Los Angeles since 2006 and he works alongside stars such as Tom Ford and Madonna. He has been nominated for the Golden Globe for his soundtracks to A Single Man and W.E., the BAFTA for Nocturnal Animals and the Emmy for Penny Dreadful.

It all started twenty years ago. In 1997, the reporter Marta Węgiel asked the graduate from the Academy of Music in Kraków to compose a soundtrack for her documentary on the cinema and theatre veteran Jerzy Stuhr. The young cellist and composer immediately agreed, since he had always dreamed of composing film music. He has been good friends with Borys Lankosz since primary school, and they worked jointly on a few projects. Korzeniowski and the director of Reverse and A Grain of Truth even reputedly have bet a dollar on which of them will win the first Oscar. Of course we’re keeping our fingers crossed for both, but Korzeniowski has already achieved one thing: to reconcile the requirements of Hollywood productions with Slavic emotions. Brand new arrangements of soundtracks to instantly recognised, highly rewarded and lucrative films composed by our compatriot resound on 17 May at ICE Kraków. The Music of Abel Korzeniowski is performed by the Beethoven Academy Orchestra with the composer himself stepping up to the conductor’s pulpit.

On a dragon’s back

For the generation born in the 1970s and 1980s, The NeverEnding Story is a cult film. Made in 1984, the German production was the most expensive film made beyond the US and the USSR at the time. In Kraków it will be screened with the soundtrack performed live for the first time. The leading motif of the film’s international version is the titular song by Giorgio Moroder and one of the greatest hits by Limahl. Other themes from the soundtrack were composed by Klaus Doldinger, who comes to ICE Kraków on 18 May to perform on stage playing saxophone. He will be accompanied by musicians from Sinfonietta Cracovia and Cracow Singers under the baton of German conductor Christian Schumann. “The mysterious, magical film featuring the cult scene with 10-year-old Bastian Balthazar Bux riding the great white dragon evokes memories of VHS tapes, beautiful music and emotions today’s adults experienced as kids. It provides an intergenerational link between grown-up and young viewers. It’s also the first-ever live orchestral performance of the cult soundtrack,” stresses Robert Piaskowski, FMF’s artistic director.

Let’s dance

This name has already been mentioned in this article. Perhaps some of you are only familiar with him thanks to the latest album by Daft Punk which payed homage to him in one of the tracks? “My name is Giovanni Giorgio, but everyone calls me Giorgio,” – getting warmer? But it’s not just the French duo who owe so much to the Italian producer. His ideas from the late 1970s and early 1980s have made as great an impact on contemporary electronic music as works by Kraftwerk and Brian Eno. Giorgio Moroder has worked with many acclaimed artists, including Prince, David Bowie, Freddie Mercury, Kylie Minogue, Barbra Streisand, Donna Summer, Elton John, Janet Jackson, Bonnie Tyler and Britney Spears. His distinctive, futuristic sounds can be heard in popular films such as Top Gun, Midnight Express, Scarface, Flashdance and of course The NeverEnding Story. The godfather of electronic dance music and winner of three Oscars takes the pulpit to lead the concert in front of the railway station at Jan Nowak-Jeziorański Square. The free nighttime dance party on 19 May truly takes us back to the future.

Long live the party!

It’s hard to imagine a major anniversary without a huge celebration. The 10th FMF culminates with the Film Music Gala All Is Film Music on 20 May. Tauron Arena Kraków resounds with everything which has contributed to building the festival brand over the years, including suites from cult films and TV dramas arranged especially for the evening. The Oscar-winning guests Howard Shore and Jan A.P. Kaczmarek take us on a sentimental journey back in time to recall some of the finest events in the festival’s history. The theme from Finding Neverland brings back memories of the industrial interiors of the ArcelorMittal tinning plant, while the suite from Lord of the Rings bring a symbolic closure to the FMF’s first decade. The special guest of the Saturday evening concert, the American multi-instrumentalist Brian Tyler, presents his latest compositions including the main theme from the videogame Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag and the suite from the film series The Fast and the Furious.

The programme also features world premieres! Guests will hear the song Listen from the film Dreamgirls performed by the Polish diva Edyta Górniak, while James Newton Howard’s The Hanging Tree from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 is performed by the versatile Natasza Urbańska. The repertoire of the special concert also features themes from blockbuster productions. We will hear the suite from Star Wars by John Williams, moving themes from Fargo by Jeff Russo and Sean Callery’s suites from the American TV dramas Homeland and 24. Finally, the cherry on the cake comes with excerpts from the musical La La Land awarded six Academy Awards in 2017, including Best Soundtrack for the Californian composer Justin Hurwitz. All compositions are performed by the Beethoven Academy Orchestra and the Pro Musica Mundi choir under the baton of Diego Navarro, Ambassador of the FMF, with special guests Abel Korzeniowski, Brian Tyler, Sean Callery and Trevor Morris.

Amor vincit omnia

Love conquering all and overcoming all barriers; love which not even death can end? James Cameron’s Titanic first hit cinema screens in 1997. The cult love story instantly gained huge crowds of fans and it received a record-breaking fourteen Oscar nominations. The film earned over two billion dollars around the globe, while James Horner was awarded the Academy Award for the soundtrack. The song My Heart Will Go On, performed by Céline Dion, became a worldwide hit and was also awarded an Oscar. The finale FMF concert takes us on the doomed maiden voyage over the freezing ocean and recalls the story of forbidden love between 17-year-old Rose and itinerant artist Jack. On 21 May at Tauron Arena Kraków, Titanic sets sail in a full symphonic version, with the Swiss conductor Ludwig Wicki leading the Sinfonietta Cracovia orchestra. The concert also features audiodescription to help partially-sighted viewers follow the plot. The festival superproduction coincides with the film’s 20th anniversary. Robert Piaskowski describes the background to choosing Titanic for the FMF finale concert: “The selection of this notable film for the festival is also a tribute to one of the greatest composers of film music James Horner, who died tragically in a plane crash in June 2015.”

Wide spectrum

The organisers of the FMF are setting the bar ever higher. The festival isn’t just about new repertoire, perfect productions or state-of-the-art technologies; it’s also about continuing searches for innovation. Last year’s festival introduced a brand new cycle Cinematic Piano, presenting original interpretations of film music performed by young pianists from Poland and abroad. On 19 May at ICE Kraków, we are taken on a journey to the world of film music by French pianist and composer Jean-Michel Bernard – author of dozens of soundtracks to films including Michel Gondry’s The Science of Sleep and Sophie Lellouche’s Paris-Manhattan.

Festival tradition dictates that at noon on Sunday 21 May the FMF Youth Orchestra performs under the baton of Monika Bachowska. The ensemble, bringing together the most talented pupils from Krakow’s music schools, has quite a challenge in store: they perform the cult soundtrack to the space opera Star Wars at ICE Kraków to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the film’s premiere. The concert FMF Youth Orchestra Plays Star Wars resounds once again on 23 May at the Krzysztof Penderecki European Centre of Music in Lusławice. The orchestral arrangements were prepared under the guidance of John Williams himself!

Festival events aren’t limited to music and cinema. The 10th FMF also brings numerous accompanying events, outdoor screenings (22 May, Powiśle 11), workshops for young composers and meetings as part of the Audiovisual Forum. Traditionally, there will be prize-giving ceremonies, including the Young Talent Award, the FMF Ambassador and the prestigious Wojciech Kilar Prize.

“Join us in the celebrations of the 10th anniversary Film Music Festival! It will be an extraordinary journey through the worlds of cinema and music. I hope you will be with us this year and for many festivals to come,” says Izabela Helbin, director of the Krakow Festival Office, organiser of the festival. And while the more recommendations the better, the event certainly stands up for itself! (Artur Jackowski, "Karnet" magazine)

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