by Dan Goldwasser
Last month, the third edition of the Fimucité film music festival took place in the Canary Islands, on the island of Tenerife in Spain. The brainchild of Spanish composer (and Tenerife native) Diego Navarro, Fimucité was created with the idea to not only celebrate music, but showcase the talented musicians who live on the island of Tenerife. When scoring the 2002 film Puerta del Tiempo, Navarro felt that he could assemble a live orchestra to record the score locally - not only in Spain, but more specifically in Tenerife. Pleased with the result, he put together the "Tenerife Film Orchestra & Choir", and in the summer of 2007, the first Fimucité conference was held, with guest composers Don Davis, Sean Callery and Mychael Danna. In 2008, the festival brought over composers Christopher Young, Joel McNeely, John Frizzell, Johnny Klimek and Reinhold Heil, as well as other film music industry guests, including a rather full panel of film music agents. The theme that year was Alex North's 2001, and included an impressive live performance of the unused score, with the help of Varese Sarabande's Robert Townson.
The main difference between Fimucité and other film music festivals is that the conference is entirely free. Sponsored by the local government as well as numerous other organizations in Tenerife, the only thing that people need to pay for are the concert tickets. This year, 2009 marks the 30th anniversary of the landmark sci-fi film Alien. It also happens to mark what would have been Jerry Goldsmith's 80th birthday, and in the spirit of both of those anniversaries, the Fimucité 3 festival decided to have their final concert celebrate the Alien films franchise as well as hold a tribute to Jerry Goldsmith. In addition to that, composers Clint Mansell, Mark Snow, John Ottman and Jan A.P. Kaczmarek would also have their music performed at other concerts throughout the festival. The Alien scores would be conducted by Diego Navarro, and the tribute to Jerry Goldsmith would be conducted by last year's attendee, Joel McNeely. At the last minute, however, McNeely fell ill and was unable to attend the festival. Mark Snow stepped up and would take over the conducting duties for that portion of the festival.
Mark Snow, Diego Navarro and Robert Townson discussing the Goldsmith concert
In addition to the concerts, panels were held at the TEA (Tenerife Espacio de las Artes). ASCAP's Nancy Knutsen spoke about performing rights organizations (Tuesday, July 21), Robert Townson and Diego Navarro spoke about the work that Varese Sarabande is doing on a DVD release of the Fimucité 2 concert (Wednesday, July 22), and each of the composers had a panel to discuss their works (Thursday, July 23). The panels went a little slower than one would have hoped for, since translating from Spanish to English (and vice versa) took time, but overall they were well received. Townson also held a panel about Jerry Goldsmith (Friday, July 24).
Diego Navarro, Manuel Díaz Noda and Robert Townson
The last panel that afternoon was a roundtable discussion featuring First Artists agent Robert Messinger, publicist Ray Costa, composers John Ottman, Mark Snow and.... David Arnold. Arnold - who was not officially on the program - was visiting the conference to support his good friend Clint Mansell, but since Clint had left back to London and Jan A.P. Kaczmarek was unable to attend the roundtable since he was busy writing his current film score from his hotel room, Arnold was convinced to join in the discussion. It was a lively debate that focused around album releases, digital downloads, and more.
First Artists agent Robert Messinger, publicist Ray Costa, and composers John Ottman, David Arnold and Mark Snow
But the highlight of the festival was the concert series. The evening of Wednesday, July 22nd saw a performance of Clint Mansell and the Sonus Quartet performing a selection of works from his scores - primarily focused on the works of Darren Aronofsky. Held at the Teatro Leal in the historic town of San Cristóbal de La Laguna, the concert featured music from The Fountain, Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler and Mansell's latest score, Moon. The show was more-or-less the same as the one that Mansell had recently performed in London earlier in the week, and was full of high energy.
Clint Mansell and The Sonus Quartet perform Requiem for a Dream
Friday, July 24th was the concert featuring the works of the guest composers. Beginning with Mark Snow conducting his works from "Millenium", "The X-Files" and Crazy in Alabama, the Tenerife Film Orchestra & Choir did a marvelous job. As a fan of Snow's scores for "The X-Files", I have to say that it was a real treat to hear his traditionally synth music performed with a live orchestra and choir.
Mark Snow conducts "Surgery" from The X-Files: I Want to Believe
John Ottman's program included music from Valkyrie, Superman Returns, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, and - in what is likely the fastest turnaround time from scoring for the film to live audience performance - two selections from Astro Boy. Ottman, who was a little concerned about the performances during the orchestra rehearsal, had his fears alleviated when the orchestra - under the baton of Diego Navarro - nailed difficult passages. It makes sense that the orchestra would only give 70% during rehearsals - but they gave 110% at the performance!
The second half of the concert featured music from Oscar-winning composer Jan A.P. Kaczmarek. Finding Neverland, Quo Vadis, Unfaithful, Passchendaele and an extended selection of cues from the mini-series War and Peace. It was a lengthy portion of the concert, but was quiet enjoyable and well performed, again conducted by Navarro.
Diego Navarro conducts music from Finding Neverland
Jan A.P. Kaczmarek, Mark Snow, John Ottman and Diego Navarro take their bows
Saturday evening's concert was the highlight of the festival. Dubbed "The Biomechanical Symphony", music from Jerry Goldsmith's Alien, James Horner's Aliens, Elliot Goldenthal's Alien 3 and John Frizzell's Alien Resurrection were performed by the Tenerife Film Orchestra & Choir, under the direction of Diego Navarro. It was a real treat to hear the Goldsmith material performed live, and the orchestra did an amazing job performing the tough material. A short overture from Brian Tyler's score to Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem was also performed, and Tyler announced (via video) his intention to attend next year's Fimucité 4!
Diego Navarro conducts "Bishop's Countdown" from James Horner's Aliens
Diego Navarro conducts soprano Karolina Gorgol Zaborniak in "Lento" from Elliot Goldenthal's Alien 3
Brian Tyler announces his intention to attend next year's festival
The second half of the concert was the tribute to Jerry Goldsmith. Marking what would have been his 80th birthday, as well as the 5-year anniversary of his untimely passing - the concert was put together by Navarro with Robert Townson. Townson, a long-time friend of Goldsmith, decided to put together a program that not only showcased his diverse talents, but also focused on pieces that are rarely heard in concert (if at all)!
Mark Snow conducts the Goldsmith concert program
Conducted by Mark Snow, the second half of the concert began with the "End Titles" from Star Trek: First Contact, and then went to the "Main Titles" from Capricorn One, and choir master Cristina Farrais was employed for the "Main Title" from The Illustrated Man. The toughest pieces Snow had been practicing all week were "The Clothes Snatchers" and "The Hunt" from Planet of the Apes, and while it was a little rough in some areas, it was for the most part an excellent performance.
Mark Snow conducts "The Clothes Snatchers" from Planet of the Apes
Zaborniak returned to join the choir for "The Mission" from The Sum of All Fears, and the "End Titles" from The Swarm were heard for the first time in concert. Two traditional concert arrangements that Goldsmith had performed in the past were also played: "Carol Anne's Theme" from Poltergeist, and a suite from Gremlins. It was unfortunate that - with a full choir sitting there - no vocals were used during the Poltergeist piece, but it was still a very good performance. I still miss the synths in Gremlins, but that is a complaint that goes back to Goldsmith's original concert arrangements.
At this point in the concert, new awards were given out for people who had helped immeasurably to make the festival a success. McNeely received one in absentia, as well as Robert Townson, and Goldsmith's widow, Carol Goldsmith.
Carol Goldsmith receives an award from Diego Navarro
For the final piece of the concert, Diego Navarro came out to conduct a suite of music from Goldsmith's masterpiece, The Omen. It was powerful and epic, and an excellent way to conclude the concert. But it wasn't over! Two more encores were performed. First up was a concert arrangement of the main title to Total Recall, and the very last thing played was the penultimate way to conclude the evening: music from The Final Conflict. One of my favorite scores, The Final Conflict is full of powerful, epic and emotional music, and hearing it performed live with a full orchestra and choir was certainly one of the highlights of the year.
Diego Navarro conducts Goldsmith's masterpiece, The Omen
Next year's Fimucité is already being planned. Navarro and his team have a lot of work ahead of them - they will be celebrating the collaboration of Steven Spielberg and John Williams, in honor of the 35th anniversary of Jaws. With another Fimucité under their belt, the Tenerife Film Orchestra & Choir is quickly establishing itself as a significant presence for world class film music concert performances.
Special thanks to Ray Costa, Diego Navarro, Pedro J. Mérida, Ana Molowny and everyone else at Fimucité.