In times as complicated as those we are experiencing right now, and with the global pandemic of the Coronavirus COVID-19 affecting each and every portion of our lives, it is always appreciated receiving news such as the recent release by the composer Arturo Cardelús, of the video with the recording session of his latest project: the soundtrack form the movie Centurion XII.
Centurion XII is a film directed by Dana Gonzales and written by Bonn Collins, based on the story of Ellissia Hall (starring Amber Midthunder); a young girl passionate about horses, who is diagnosed with a serious illness. The film takes us through her process of struggle and overcoming, and shows us how a young Elissa copes with it.
Arturo Cardelús, an old friend of SoundTrackFest, invited us to cover the recording session of the soundtrack in March 2020; a session that was going to take place at the Warner Studios in Los Angeles, but that had to be postponed due to the pandemic, being finally carried on at the Synchron Stage in Vienna.
Unfortunately, due to travel restrictions, we were unable to attend the recording session (neither in Los Angeles nor in Vienna), but with the recent publication of the video, we wanted to chat a little bit with Arturo Cardelús.
Centurion XII will be released in late summer 2020, and the soundtrack is slated to be released simultaneously, by a major record label.
What can you tell us about CENTURION XII soundtrack? What did you want to achieve with your music? What can someone find when listening to the soundtrack for the first time?
Centurion XII tells the story of Elissia, a young girl who is passionate about horses and who is diagnosed with a serious illness. The film is all about strength in the face of difficulties.
The director, Dana Gonzales, wanted a classic-sounding score with orchestral tuttis and strong melodies. These days you’re rarely asked for that, and I enjoyed it a lot. My main intention was to create a soundtrack that would bring viewers closer to the character’s suffering but without going overboard. We didn’t want to do a tear-jerking drama: the music had to be emotional but always somewhat optimistic.
We know first-hand that due to the global coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, the recording has been a complex process. Initially, it was planned to record the soundtrack in Los Angeles, but finally, it had to be recorded in Vienna, months later. What can you tell us about the recording?
We booked an orchestra with Sandy DeCrescent (John Williams’ and Randy Newman’s contractor) for March 17 at Warner Brothers in Los Angeles. Seventy incredible musicians, my first time recording with an orchestra of that size in Los Angeles–it was a dream. But the virus came and the world stopped. California declared a lockdown on March 14.
The producers spent a month searching for alternatives, like using fewer instruments or having each musician record from her home studio. I was very worried about recording it separately. That would be fine for another type of score, but the hall is very important if you want a classic sound.
In mid-April we found out that Austria was lifting its lockdown, and so we contacted Synchron Stage Vienna. The limit was 50 musicians, so long as each used a separate music stand and kept social distance. We did some overdubs and changed some orchestrations so we didn’t lose the sound we wanted. The experience was fantastic. We had great musicians and a great conductor (Johannes Vogel), and the sound in the hall was wonderful.
We recorded everything in two three-hour sessions.
We will talk to you again Arturo, when the movie and the soundtrack are closer to being released, but we did not want to close this mini-interview without taking the opportunity to thank you for your invitation to SoundTrackFest to be on the recording session (first in Los Angeles and then in Vienna). An invitation that unfortunately could not be fulfilled, due to the travel restrictions caused by the pandemic.
Thank you, and I hope that you can come to the next recording!
Article and interview by Gorka Oteiza