On Friday, December 12, 2020, the Spanish Film Academy Foundation and the RTVE Symphony Orchestra and Choir organized the ‘Concierto Gala Música de Cine Español / Spanish Film Music Gala Concert’ at the Teatro Monumental in Madrid.
SoundTrackFest was invited to cover this concert and Gorka Oteiza wrote an article for the Film Academy that was published the following day on their website (follow link).
Now you can read an extended version of that article in SoundTrackFest, which also includes a complete photographic summary of the rehearsals and the concert.
The concert, which was recorded entirely in high definition, will be available for free on ‘La 2’ channel at the Spanish Television on December 25th at 13:30h.
A few months had passed since we had the last opportunity to celebrate live film music – it was September at the festivals in Malaga (MOSMA) and Tenerife (FIMUCITÉ) – and despite the complicated health situation, being able to enjoy a film music gala concert, is always a good way to end the year.
The concert, organized by the Spanish Film Academy Foundation and the RTVE Symphony Orchestra and Choir, and forged by the tireless composer Luis Ivars, had been going on for months, but it was not until a few weeks ago that it was publicly announced (read more). Besides the amount of time and work that it takes to organize an event of this caliber, the environment can change from one day to the next one, so it is better not to announce events until all the details are tied.
On Friday, December 11, 2020 at 10:30h, after several days of rehearsals, the date of the concert arrived and the dress rehearsal took place. A couple of hours of “final simulation of the concert”, where, guided by the music of the RTVE Orchestra and Choir conducted by Ignacio García-Vidal, the team rehearsed the presenter’s entrances, the interventions of the composers who were going to be at the piano, the participation of the soloists in some of the pieces, or polished up small details in the performance, while trying out the final video and light montages that were going to wrap up the music. Unlike in a movie where the image is first, here we could see that the music was the protagonist, being everything else subordinated to it.
Outside the Teatro Monumental, several trucks of the Spanish Television could be seen, which was going to record the concert in 4K for its later broadcast on ‘La 2’ channel on Christmas day. Additionally, the audio of the concert was also going to be broadcast live the same day on Radio Nacional Clásica. A very kind detail, taking into account that of the three floors that make up the theater with a total of 4200 seats, only the courtyard and the second floor were open, so, with the health measures in force, approximately only 400 seats were available, leaving many people out both by capacity and by the impossibility to travel.
The night arrived and the doors of the theater were opened at 18:30h, one hour before the beginning of the performance, so that people could enter in a staggered manner and without crowding, following the appropriate security and temperature checks. On the second floor, a photocall was used for several photo sessions with the composers who were the protagonists of the night: Arturo Cardelús, who traveled from Los Angeles to Madrid to attend the concert, Pascal Gaigne who came from Donostia-San Sebastían, and Vanesa Garde and Iván Palomares who were closer as they both live in Madrid. Unfortunately, Alejandro Amenábar, who was currently filming a TV series, could not attend the concert, and Alberto Iglesias could not be present either due to personal reasons.
On several small tables located next to the entrance doors to the seating area, there was a hand program with a reduced version of the concert information, containing a QR code to access a more complete online PDF version; 15 pages of information about the concert, with detailed biographies of the musicians, the composers, and the entire artistic team of the event. It is worth mentioning that this handheld program included a one-page description of the concert, commissioned by the Spanish Film Academy Foundation to SoundTrackFest/Gorka Oteiza.
At 19:35h the concert started with the entrance on the stage of the presenter Elena S. Sánchez, who lead the evening and offered us an extensive introduction about the concert and the first 3 pieces that were going to be played.
This way, almost an hour and a half of stories narrated through the music started, performed with precision and emotion by the RTVE Orchestra and Choir under the baton of the conductor and musicologist Ignacio García-Vidal.
The first piece was the fragile and delicate music of Iván Palomares for ‘En las Estrellas / Up Among the Stars’ by Zoe Berriatúa, building bridges between reality and fantasy, and which, guided by the composer playing the piano, took us through the adventures and misadventures of a father and a son seeking redemption and the recovery of a lost childhood.
After a brief applause and a slight pause, the second theme arrived, which took us into Miguel de Unamuno‘s tribulations and conflicts, while we listened to the melodic and sometimes introverted music that Alejandro Amenábar composed for ‘Mientras dure la Guerra / While at War’, a film he also directed, and which featured Roberto Moronn‘s stellar guitar interpretation. It should be noted that at this point in the concert we were already completely caught up in the symbiotic and artistic video and color montage that was projected on the wall.
From the very first piece, we were able to verify the great success of the format that the concert was going to offer us: music as the center and as an absolute protagonist of the night, with some video montages made expressly for the occasion and projected over the orchestra on the wooden walls of the Teatro Monumental.
These video montages were prepared with love and care, and were not intended to be synchronized with the music, but rather to give us clues and indications of the film we were listening to, evoking its history and helping to create a reimagining of the work, where the predominant and main thing was the music and everything else was at its service. The same happened with the colors & the lights, being the lighting another important factor in achieving the desired artistic effect and transmitting the feeling of the original film.
It should be noted that, due to the characteristics of color and material of the wall, which was not neutral white as in a movie screen, it reflected light quite poorly, so in the rehearsals it was necessary to bring a more powerful projector than the one normally used in the theater, in addition to making several video-tests with different levels of intensity and color, in order to have adequate projections on the wood.
Fantastic artistic work in the conception of the concert and in its realization, both by the video and lighting team, as by the brain and soul of the whole event, the composer Luis Ivars, who pursued the project since the idea came up until its realization, making everything go as planned, or even much better.
But returning to the concert, the orchestra offered us next a subtle and delicate interpretation of the music by Pascal Gaigne for The Giant by Aitor Arregi and Jon Garaño, which, with a very elegant and apparently simple but highly effective construction, demonstrated that many times it is not necessary to use symphonic grandiloquences in order to get further results the music.
We were at the peak of the concert and the presenter was again on stage, to comment on the next three themes that we were going to hear, then giving way again to the orchestra.
The concert continued with a great performance by the concertmaster Miguel Borrego, in a complex suite for violin and orchestra created by the multi-award-winning composer Alberto Iglesias for ‘La piel que habito / The Skin I Live in’ by Pedro Almodóvar, which took us through the tortuous worlds of a human condition that struggles between morality and necessity.
The next piece offered us one of the surprises of the night since the presence of the choir led by Lorenzo Ramos, distributed in an arch on the first floor of the theater, gave a surround sound that accompanied us until the end of the concert. The piece we listened to was a suite of ‘La aventura de los Lunnis / The Lunnis and the Great Fairy Tales Adventure’, a film by Juan Pablo Buscarini with a soundtrack composed by Vanessa Garde, where the human voice contributed with a note of warmth to the lively, agile, and jovial music that described the imaginative worlds of these funny characters.
We concluded this wonderful evening with the soundtrack for ‘Buñuel en el laberinto de las tortugas / Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles’ by Salvador Simó, composed by Arturo Cardelús, who accompanied the orchestra and the choir on the piano, in an overflowing and precise interpretation of his music, which transported us to the surrealist and sometimes bitter domains of the famous filmmaker.
Once the concert was over, and without the option of any kind of encore – due to the limited duration of the concert – the presenter thanked the audience for their presence and support, and the organization of the event for their commitment to culture, thus giving us a special evening.
Afterwards, she invited the composers present in the hall, Ivan Palomares, Pascal Gaigne, Vanessa Garde, and Arturo Cardelús, to go on stage to receive a great applause from the audience; an audience that showed its gratitude for being able to enjoy a brave, daring, and hi-quality cultural and artistic experience.
The ‘Concierto Gala Música de Cine Español / Spanish Film Music Gala Concert’ provided a space to meet again with both cinema and live symphonic music, showing that the auditoriums, theaters, and cinemas, are safe places to enjoy art and culture.
The commitment of the Spanish Film Academy Foundation and the RTVE Symphony Orchestra and Choir to this evening resulted in a big success, showing that, if things are done with love and professionalism, we can create unique moments to remember. We hope that this concert can be repeated in 2021, and not only that, but we also expect it to become a Christmas tradition from now on. There’s more than enough professionalism and musical quality to make it happen.
As we already told you at the beginning of this article, the concert was recorded in its entirety in high definition, so that those of you who did not have the opportunity to be at the Teatro Monumental, will be able to relive it on ‘La 2’ of the Spanish Television (also online) on December 25 at 13:30h.
A good date to enjoy the family, with music to meet again.
Article and pictures by Gorka Oteiza
Additional pictures by Alberto Ortega
[REHEARSAL PICTURES – Gorka Oteiza]
[CONCERT PICTURES – Gorka Oteiza]
[CONCERT PICTURES – Alberto Ortega]