“The Opening Night”
Film Music Prague just had its 7th edition, and it is the second film music festival in the Czech capital I attended as Soundtrack World. Last year’s edition was top of the line with an evening dedicated to Craig Armstrong’s work, a concert filled with music from the Alien movies, and of course the superb performance of Joe Hisaishi. Unfortunately for the organization, this year the festival was plagued by cancellations. This “Goosebumps!” concert contained a lot of music from the composer Benjamin Wallfisch, who was supposed to conduct the orchestra. Sadly though, he was not able to come. Instead, the baton was given to Nic Raine for this evening.
The concert started with a small Dutch celebration. Composer Matthijs Kieboom has written the Film Music Prague Fanfare, which is a fantastic bombastic piece with the addition of castanets to top it off. The first half of the evening contained two pieces by Wallfisch: Annabelle: Creation and IT. Both are horror movies, so the music was full of suspense and the choir was there to enhance the tense emotions, especially with the “La La La” chant by the women in IT. The other pieces in this part were all written by Hans Zimmer. “Time” from Inception had the musical buildup from a couple of instruments to full orchestra, where in this version the electric guitar part was done by the trumpets. For this concert they have chosen to play a different track from The Thin Red Line: instead of the famous “Journey to the Line,” they played “The Village,” which was just absolutely gorgeous. They also performed music from Hidden Figures, where a gospel choir took to the front of the stage. One of the female vocalists had a fantastic part singing over the rest of the choir. Before the intermission, we could listen to music from Gladiator, which is always a pleasure.
The second half continued in the same style as the first one: with a lot of music by Wallfisch and Zimmer. However, we could first enjoy the world premiere of a suite from The Catcher was a Spy, written by Howard Shore. Afterward, we could listen to a suite from A Cure for Wellness – a music I haven’t heard before. it contained an interesting theme, making me want to explore this score more. “Chevaliers de Sangreal” from The Da Vinci Code is becoming a classic, and that piece gets an emotional response from me every time. This performance was no exception: the goosebumps crawled right up to my neck. The other pieces by Zimmer were Interstellar, for which there was a large organ on stage, Genius that included a difficult violin solo for the concertmaster and the final piece was a suite from The Last Samurai. Especially the last one was a highlight for me since I had never heard this score performed live before. The last piece of this half that I need to mention is music from the original Blade Runner, which is, unlike the last iteration, not composed by Wallfisch but by Vangelis. It included the saxophone solo from “Rachel’s Song,” and there was an audio track playing during the piece. Moreover, there were other sound effects created, for example by choir members shaking their music sheets. The encore was quite a mystery to me since I had never heard that piece before. Apparently, it was music from Summer in February composed by Wallfisch. The second encore I did recognize: it was music from Sherlock Holmes written by Hans Zimmer, providing a joyful ending to the concert.
The best way to describe this concert is that it was solid. Everything was done well, the orchestra performed the pieces as they should be. The sound and lightning were also perfectly prepared for a venue that needs amplification. The festival did not make use of a movie screen. I am still in favor of having none since it puts the focus on what is on stage instead of the audience watching the screen all the time. The program was well balanced: it had classics, new music, scary music and music that makes you feel happy. Also, from time to time, things happened on stage, like the gospel choir, the organ and the violin solo. All these things made this concert solid: a joy to experience. It would have been magnificent though, if Benjamin Wallfisch had been able to take part and to give this concert a personal touch as well. That would have been the icing on the cake.
Where and when: Prague, Czech Republic – April 19th, 2018 during the Film Music Prague festival
Orchestra: The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Nic Raine
Choirs: Vox Pragae Choir conducted by choirmaster Miriam Nemcova and Marantha Gospel Choir
Guest: Matthijs Kieboom
- Matthijs Kieboom – Fanfare of the Film Music Prague Festival
- Benjamin Wallfisch – Suite from Annabelle 2: Creation
- Hans Zimmer – “Time” from Inception
- Benjamin Wallfisch – Suite from IT
- Hans Zimmer – “The Village” from The Thin Red Line
- Hans Zimmer & Benjamin Wallfisch – Suite from Hidden Figures
- Hans Zimmer & Lisa Gerrard – Suite from Gladiator
- Howard Shore – Suite from The Catcher was a Spy
- Benjamin Wallfisch – Suite from A Cure for Wellness
- Hans Zimmer – “Chevaliers de Sangreal” from The Da Vinci Code
- Hans Zimmer – Suite from The Last Samurai
- Vangelis – Suite from Blade Runner
- Lorne Balfe & Hans Zimmer – Suite from Genius
- Hans Zimmer – Suite for organ and orchestra from Interstellar
- Benjamin Wallfisch – Suite from Summer in February (Encore)
- Hans Zimmer – Suite from Sherlock Holmes (Encore)