Kraków Film Music Festival: ‘A total pleasure!’

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By Ray Bennett

KRAKÓW – Cliff Martinez said it best. The genial but taciturn favourite movie composer of filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, said, “It is simply very exciting to be in a place that celebrates film music.”

Martinez was speaking at a media conference at the 9th annual Kraków Film Music Festival where his music for films by Nicolas Winding Refn were celebrated along with other creators of scores both traditional and alternative.

“If there was a programme like his in my home town of Los Angeles, five or six people would show up,” he said. As it was, organisers said that more than 39,000 people participated in the festival.

It ended on May 31 with the gala “Video Game Show: The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt” at the Tauron Arena (pictured top). Another demonstration of FMF’s innovative spirit, it featured the AUKSO Chamber Orchestra of the City of Tychy and Pro Musica Mundi Choir conducted by Polish maestro Marek Moś.

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The night before had seen a blazing performance at the Tauron Arena of John Williams’s electrifying score for “Raiders of the Lost Ark” played to the film by Sinfonietta Cracovia conducted by Swiss maestro Ludwig Wicki.

The concerts brought to an end another typically eclectic and enterprising film music event that makes Kraków the envy of the rest of Europe and especially North America. The numbers alone are impressive: 10 concerts including six galas; five major orchestras; two mixed choirs; 12 top-level conductors; 170 film industry guests from Poland and elsewhere plus 50 composers for film, television and videogames.

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There also were more than 40 hours of master classes for a select 27 young composers of various nationalities including one that I did on electronic film music (see photo above) with (from left) Joseph Trapanese (“Straight Outta Compton”, “Tron: Uprising”), Dave Porter (“Breaking Bad”, “The Blackist”) and Martinez.

Artistic Director Robert Piaskowski (striding onto the stage after the Drones concert in photo below) said, “The 9th edition is proof that we are slowly surpassing the formula of film music itself, and at the same time we are getting more into music connected with screen – cinematic, TV and computer.”

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Cliff Martinez wasn’t the only composer bowled over by the range and commitment of the festival. Joseph Trapanese said, “To see film music celebrated as an art form in itself is really humbling.”

And Hollywood-based Brazilian composer Heitor Pereira (“Smurfs”, “Despicable Me”) summed it up: “It is a total pleasure! I wish every city had one of these events!”

Photos: Bottom: Robert Slusniak; panel: Michael Ramus; ‘Raiders: Ray Bennett; top: Wojciech Wandzel

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One Response to Kraków Film Music Festival: ‘A total pleasure!’

  1. As always, you’ve nailed it, Ray! 🙂 I’ve been a friend & fan of Film Music Festival in Kraków from the very first edition. Had a small role in getting it out of serious trouble back in 2010 when, resulting from prolonged bad weather, i.e. the whole Festival had to change the main concert venue, at very short notice, to Nowa Huta! But we made it, and it was one of the most memorable editions ever…among others, the grand finale of The Lord of the Rings (with Howard Shore present) performed live in the incredibly atmospheric, rusty interiors of a steel plant! I remember the audience freeze in silence when the credits started with a solo “Into the West”, long past midnight. Unforgettable!

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