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  1. I thought there was already a thread about this, but I can't find it, so here goes. Yesterday the annual Hollywood in Vienna event took place, featuring Alexandre Desplat as the recipient of this year's Max Steiner Awardee. The concert itself was a mixed bag. Science fiction themed (no doubt because Desplat was still attached to Rogue One when the concert was announced), the first half featured Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra opening and excerpts and suites from Broughton's Spaceship Earth ride, Goldsmith's STTMP main title and First Contact, Silvestri's Contact, Arnold's Stargate, Price's Gravity, Zimmer's Interstellar, and Williams's Across the Stars and E.T. end credits. As usual though, some pieces were heavily edited. Across the Stars was ruined by turning it into a "suite for violin and orchestra", with a solo violin introduction and then a hectic solo violin part layered on top of the Williams piece. The middle section featured the a cadence that sounded like the soloist was force choking his instrument. At least they had the decency to retitle this abomination to Anakin and Padme. The worse contender though, and by far the worst thing ever to come out of the Hollywood in Vienna series (which has no short list of artistic mutilations) was Goldsmith's First Contact theme gang raped by a choir and heavy operatic soprano. Never mind that having a choir aah theme theme along with the orchestra is odd enough in places (it's not exactly a theme that lends itself well to voices), but the entire thing was based on the soprano singing (on "ah") the melody - and when the melody wasn't there, the vocal line took over bits of the accompaniment. I had to laugh out loudly near the end. One day later, Goldsmith must still be spinning in his grave. The whole thing was a macabre grotesque and I fail to see how anyone could even begin to think this was a good idea, let alone actually deciding to go through with it. The rest of the first half fared much better, although the soloists had some problems and the remaining Goldsmith and Williams pieces weren't the most exciting performances, with some lackluster tempo choices. Conductor Keith Lockhart can hardly be blamed for that, because apparently the entire concert was performed to a click track. Additionally, the whole thing was amplified and turned up to 11, with a good chance of winning the loudness war. The second half belonged entirely to Desplat and fared much better, showcasing his vast range of styles and instrumentations (although it was solely focused on his Hollywood career, starting with Girl With a Pearl Earring). There was a whole array of guest performers, including soloists for the ethnic instruments in Argo and Swiss yodelers and the Don Cossacks Choir on The Grand Budapest Hotel. After accepting the Max Steiner award, Desplat himself stepped up to conduct The Secret Life of Pets. I only have a couple of Desplat CDs so far and always found that most of them leave me mostly cold (notable exceptions being the fun Secret Life of Pets and the gorgeous Grand Budapest Hotel, but I'm much more excited about his music now and added several CDs (and films, for that matter) to my immediate to-buy list. Accompanying the concert, as in most years, was the Film Music Symposium Vienna, featuring among other things Robert Townson (briefly) chatting with Desplat's wife and regular concert master, Dominique Lemmonier, a talk by Laura Engel of Kraft-Engel Management (who was a lot of fun and enjoyed sharing a wealth of anecdotes) and of course a talk and Q&A session with Desplat himself. A few tidbits from the Desplat session: During composing, when stuck, he likes to sleep ("it's a very deep sleep") to clear his mind as part of his usual work process. When asked whether he had any contact with John Williams when composing his Potter scores, he explained that he didn't. "You don't just call John Williams and say, hi John, what the fuck?" Asked about what caused him to drop out of Rogue One, he explained that the recording sessions where originally scheduled for early August, but then moved repeatedly, first to September, and then further, and he was already commited to another project that clashed with the changed schedule. He called John Williams the master (like pretty much every composer at the symposium so far) and mentioned that Roman Polanski never uses temp tracks and always relies on his composers to bring their own ideas to the project (and favourably mentioned Chinatown[/i). During his acceptance speech, concerning Vienna he specifically pointed out Anton Bruckner (always a plus in my book) and Gustav Mahler, joking that he would have loved to have written Mahler's 2nd and Bruckner's 9th symphonies.
  2. Looks like it'll be JNH this year at the Hollywood in Vienna Concerts and Awards. http://hollywoodinvienna.com/en/programme/hollywood-in-vienna-2015
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