By Ray Bennett
KRAKOW – The Krakow Film Music Festival celebrated its 10th anniversary on Saturday night with a spectacular concert of movie and television themes by some of the greatest names in film composing.
The three-hour show at the packed Tauron Arena included themes and songs by James Newton Howard, Jan A.P. Kaczmarek, Alan Menken, John Williams, Alan Menken and Howard Shore, who was awarded the annual Kilar Award.
The exhilarating Beethoven Academy Orchestra performed, often accompanied by the splendid Pro Musica Mundi Choir and an assortment of guest soloists including Polish stars Edyta Górniak and Natasza Urbańska,
Featured composers from the younger generation included Poland’s Abel Korzeniowski and Maciej Zieliński, Canada’s Trevor Morris, and Bulgaria’s Atanas Valkov, and Sean Callery, Justin Hurwitz, Jeff Russo, and Brian Tyler from the United States.
Howard Shore, who took the stage to the Jerry Goldsmith Fanfare to accept the Kilar Award – awarded to outstanding composers who are faithful to traditional composition – paid tribute to the late Polish composer Wojciech Kilar for whom the prize is named: “He was an inspiration; a great artist in the the concert hall as well as in film.”
Shore’s music from “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” kicked off the evening with festival regular Diego Navarro at his emotional best with the baton. Boy soprano Szymon Zawadziński took stage front and met the challenge admirably with fellow sopranos Kasper Kądziołek and Krystian Kukla at the back with the Pro Musica Mundi Choir.
Navarro remained as conductor for several more treats including John Williams’s stirring “Imperial March” and sweet “Princess Leia’s Theme” from “Star Wars” with Sara Andon in typically marvellous form on flute for the latter. The choir added soaring voices again to Jan A.P. Kaczmarek’s gorgeous “Finding Neverland”.
James Newton Howard sent greetings via video and Natasza Urbańska’s deep, breathy voice added pleasing drama to his cue “The Hanging Tree” from “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1”. Swiss musician Martin Tillman (pictured) added the gravity of his electric cello to Maciej Zieliński’s dark and tense music from “Humble Servants” along with Polish percussionist Michał Dąbrówka. Navarro continued at the podium for Jeff Russo’s evocative “Fargo” and Alan Menken’s lyrical “Beauty and the Beast” (a new arrangement by Michael ‘Koz’ Kosarin; conductor, music arranger and song producer for the new film starring Emma Watson) with the perfect tones Sara Andon’s flute.
Brian Tyler closed the first half of the show as he conducted an explosive display of musical pyrotechnics that involved the entire orchestra and chorus. It included his scores from “Thor: The Dark World”, “Power Rangers” with Martin Tillman on electric cello, “Assassin’s Creed IV: The Black Flag”, “The Fast and the Furious 8” with Aleksander Milwiw-Baron’s intense electric guitar, the debut of “The Mummy: Ahmet Theme” from the upcoming Tom Cruise film as Piotr Steczek added pleasing flavour on the duduk, a double-reed woodwind flute, and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”.
Hans Zimmer’s thrilling cue “Inception: Time” kicked off the second half and he sent video greetings before Navarro took the baton again in his usual dazzling manner. Joanna Radziszewska provided the lofty vocals and Aleksander Milwiw-Baron amplified the exciting theme on electric guitar. Milwiw-Baron stayed for the world premiere of Atanas Valkov’s score for the film “Belfer”, which also featured the composer on piano and moog and Michał Dąbrówka on percussion.
Trevor Morris took the baton to conduct a dynamic suite from the NBC fantasy television series “Emerald City” followed by Abel Korzeniowski with spooky tones from Showtime’s horror series “Penny Dreadful”.
Navarro conducted orchestra and choir in a lovely performance of Jan A.P. Kaczmarek’s beautiful music for “Unfaithful” and then Edyta Górniak took to the stage with Michał Dąbrówka on percussion for a powerful rendition of “Listen”, which Henry Krieger, Scott Cutler, Anne Preven and Beyoncé Knowles wrote for the movie “Dreamgirls”.
Composer Sean Callery (above) proved a revelation on piano as he led a fine jazz ensemble through the Polish premiere of his themes for Showtime’s “Homeland” and Twentieth Century Fox TV’s “24: New York Gets Jacked”. With tremendous flare, Callery was joined by Przemysław Sokół on trumpet, Benoit Grey on double bass, Jamie Forsyth on percussion, Szymon Mika on electric guitar. Perhaps next time, they will be asked to perform a full recital.
Justin Horwitz’s Oscar-winning score from “La La Land” took the concert toward conclusion with a group of greatly entertaining players: Sebastian Sołdrzyński on trumpet, Tomasz Gajewski on trombone, Maciej Salus on guitar, Ireneusz Boczek on piano, Maciej Hałoń on drums and Marek Lewandowski on double bass.
During proceedings Varese Sarabande’s Robert Townson was awarded the FMF Ambassador Award and Paweł Górniak won the annual FMF Young Talent Award. Orchestra and chorus performed his winning entry, a cue for “Emerald City”.
After Howard Shore received the Kilar Award (below), the crowd-pleasing concert closed with a reminder of the Canadian composer’s immense talent, a suite that featured “The Lighting of the Beacons” from “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” plus “The Last March of the Ent”, “Mount Doom” and “The Destruction of the Ring” (with vocals by Joanna Radziszewska) from “The Lord of the Rings”.
KFMF photos: Wojciech Wandzel; Callery & Tillman photos: Doreen Ringer-Ross