One week ago we published a special article about the concert dedicated to the music of superheroes from Marvel and DC performed by the Franz Schubert Filharmonia under the baton of composer and conductor Gerard Pastor, held at the Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona (read complete article here).
Our colleague Frederic Torres took the opportunity to interview Gerard Pastor exclusively for SoundTrackFest, in an extensive and fantastic interview that you can find below.
We are on the terrace of the Palau de la Música Catalana, where in the afternoon, at 17:30h, will take place the concert that will face MARVEL vs DC, performed by the Franz Schubert Filharmonia, under the baton of Gerard Pastor, young composer and conductor, who arrives hurriedly with some delay from Tarragona, where the concert has taken place a day earlier, on October 8. It is already around 13:30g, and Gerard sits down while ordering something to eat and drink.
Hello, good morning, Gerard. First of all, congratulations on this award for best music for a video game, The Turtles Game, that you have obtained in the annual edition of FIMUCITÉ. But, first of all, it would be interesting to situate us in your beginnings and to know what was your training and where did your interest in audiovisual media come from?
I started with music without even knowing it. My mother took me to music school when I was little, when my brother was born, partly so that I would do something to keep me distracted, and also because it was a personal frustration she had, since despite wanting to, she was never allowed to study music. So since she couldn’t, she thought her Gerard could do it. I was growing up, making music, playing the piano as a game. Sometimes I wanted to give it up, sometimes I went back to study. And then, when I was eleven or twelve years old, I started playing with a small group at the school in my town, Palau-solità i Plegamans, where a lot of arrangements were made and a lot of film music was played, for example, Superman, but also Disney and Frank Sinatra.
Funny, isn’t it?
Yes, yes. This kind of music got me hooked and I never thought about leaving it again. It was the end of the nineties, and I was about fourteen or fifteen years old, and that’s when Star Wars Episode I, The Phantom Menace, was released in 1999, where I was struck by “Duel of the Fates”, which today is a theme that is an icon. I scratched the soundtrack album from listening to it so much, and I said to myself that what I wanted to do was cinema, to do what that man named John Williams, whom I must say I had heard before, had done with his music. That was the idea that stuck with me. Then I went through many stages, first studying classical piano, then playing jazz. I was a teenager and I had different interests, but cinema was always there. I continued studying composition, a subject I never abandoned, piano (as I was saying), and then a group of friends who had made a short film and knew of my interest in film music, asked me if I would like to collaborate.
I started with that, and then I studied at the ESMUC (Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya), which is where I studied the Superior. They offered “Music for Audiovisuals” contents, with two subjects taught by Arnau Bataller, who had just arrived from studying in the United States. I began to study this subject as an extra and I loved it, besides having a very good relationship with the professor. Then I started with conducting, because composition did not convince me as it was offered at ESMUC, but because it was not so focused on the style of music I was interested in. Then I studied conducting with Jordi Mora, which allowed me to learn a lot from the classics and the great composers, and also to understand why the greats of film music are also exceptional artists. There is no qualitative difference.
And between one thing and another I was doing everything: directing, composing music for short films, then for a documentary, then a feature film. A bit of what you’re used to doing. Moving around festivals, etc. And despite being a “moonlighter”, cinema is always there, in one way or another. When I have been a conductor, I have programmed a lot of film music, and also many transcriptions for orchestras and bands that have asked me to do so, because there are repertoires that can’t be found or they don’t lend them, or renting them is very expensive. And this concert is like the culmination of everything that has happened so far, from playing Superman with that initial small group to playing it with an orchestra like the one this afternoon at the Palau.
You have established a relationship with director Anna Maria Bofarull, with whom you have now made three consecutive films since her debut in 2015 with Sonata for Cello, which was followed by the historical film, Barcelona 1714, in 2019, and Sinjar, released in June of this 2022. Tell us about your relationship with the director and these works.
I started working with her very early on. She had two short films, and when she made her first documentary, Notes al Peu (2009), we started working together. It was a documentary about historical memory, related to Franco’s regime, the Civil War, and mass graves. For me it was very curious, because you have a cinematographic imaginary very influenced by American cinema and suddenly, at the age of about 21, you start with a two-hour documentary, independent, critical. That’s not Superman! Then I made another documentary, Hammada (2009), which was about the Sahrawi people abandoned in the Algerian desert.
These works marked me a lot, because it was a social cinema, very critical and necessary, and I began to grow as a composer in this way, with this type of work, until we got to Sonata for Cello. I like working with her, because first she doesn’t see music anywhere in the film, and then, together, we start to see where it might be missing. That’s what she’s really interested in, and if she doesn’t use it, it’s because we feel there shouldn’t be any. We have been growing together.
Then came Barcelona 1714, which meant making a symphonic soundtrack to be played by about eighty musicians, with about eighty-five minutes of music, and all in record time, because I had only twenty days to do it due to the fact that the last set had to be kept for eight days, with groups of up to seven people working with the scores. Everyone collaborated in an altruistic way on this film, including the musicians, which made us all grow a little. It also gave us a clearer idea of what the timings are like in Hollywood. And now, after all that, Sitjar, which is in my opinion Anna’s best film, which on the other hand is a normal process given that she doesn’t have that many films to her credit. But it is growing by leaps and bounds, and over the years she has kept part of the same team, always made up of women: three actresses, director of photography, sound recordist, editor…
So, you are an insider!
(*Laughs*) She knows that and she counts on me. She knows that possibly if she hired a female composer she would receive more points and subsidies, and in spite of that she continues with me, something I thank her for. I always tell her that if she has to give up my collaboration to make a film, she should not hesitate to do so, because they are very important stories. Sitjar, deals with the issue of ISIS, how it affects women there and here. The case of a mother who sees how her son enlists in the Army of the Islamic State. These are very documented cases, and she is very rigorous about it. She is also a director, screenwriter, producer. I learn a lot with her, and the most beautiful thing is that I accompany her from the script development, watching the “rushes”, working on the editing. It’s not a soundtrack that comes to you and has to be finished in a month, but you have six or seven months, even more than a year, the possibility of going to the country, and of course, this is noticeable in the composition, and I appreciate it.
However, one of your most remarkable scores is that of Jean-François y el sentido de la vida, by director Sergi Portabella, from 2018, of clear baroque inspiration and that refers us, as somehow the title already indicates, to the nouvelle vague and to those fantastic compositions of the great Georges Delerue for the works of Godard and Truffaut, among others…
Yes, that’s right, there were precisely two references, one was Truffaut, and the other was Wes Anderson, who now works regularly with Desplat, forming a magnificent duo that has been able to create its own sonority. But Anderson had also worked with baroque music. And the director had a lot of intuition and did not want to export music that worked for him like the typical rock or pop bands very characteristic of fifteen-year-olds. He saw that baroque music worked for him, and there came a time when he wondered why not make a completely original soundtrack in that style, and that’s when Xavier Granada, who was the producer and a friend of mine, thought that I might be able to carry out that project.
And so I did it, pure and hard baroque, not neo-baroque. It was a score that took time and is all written by hand, without computer intervention. There is even a fugue for organ. A very elaborate work, which needed a lot of pause, and also a lot of calm. It was a long score to compose. About six months. Some of the music was composed before the shooting, some during the shooting, and more during the editing. And when it was finished, we had to go back to the editing room, because baroque… its measures are of four, and you can’t make changes like in neo-romantic style music, which you can do whatever you want because it’s more flexible. Here you couldn’t make a three or three and a half bar to fit the shot, so we reached a last phase in sequences that are adapted inside the editing room, with the music built afterwards. A luxury. A job that we were all very happy with, that looked very good in the film and that did not surprise anyone.
It reminded me a bit of A Little Romance, the film about fifteen-year-olds with which Delerue won the Oscar in 1979. But that film was very romantic, far from the postulates of Jean-François’ story.
I haven’t seen it, but I’m very happy with this one. Together with the other two, these are three scores that have nothing to do with each other. While the latter has leit-motifs and themes that announce the characters and their actions, Jean-François’ is completely different, and works like an amniotic fluid, while Sitjar has a music that puts all the stories in the same context, even if the characters don’t cross each other. Each soundtrack has to serve the film and see which style suits it best, as my teacher, Arnau, used to tell me. Because the cinematographic language does not exist. It can be anything, because it can be strange sound effects, baroque music, romantic style or played with a piano and minimalist style, depending on what the film asks for. And I like that. And that’s why I feel comfortable with film. Because in the classical music world it’s important that you follow a line, and leave eclecticism aside because it’s a more rigid world.
In this sense, I would like to vindicate the figure of Alex North as an introducer of jazz in cinema, but also as a pioneer in opening doors in a style of music that was too defined and rigid, and somewhat sclerotized. In this sense, what are your references?
I have no doubt in placing John Williams at the top because of the motivation he gave me. But on a “platonic” level, Danny Elfman marked me a lot, with his Batman soundtrack. If Star Wars is the first, Batman is the second. It was a great impact. To see how the music is made, with four very direct elements. Complex, but at the same time simple. I find it fascinating. These composers had a huge impact on me when I was young. Besides, my favorite movie of all time is The Nightmare Before Christmas, a stop-motion musical. I find it fantastic. And I don’t know if it’s because of that, but since a year and a half ago I find myself directing stop-motion as well. What marked me as a teenager is exploding now.
Then there is a reference in classical music, Franz Liszt, because this happened to him, everything that happened to him at the age of twenty was reproduced throughout his life, it was like something cyclical, because one period as a conductor was followed by another as a composer and so on. He was an integral artist who marked me a lot. And there is a conductor, Celibidache, who influenced me a lot through my teacher, Jordi Mora, and this links me with the two most personal references, which have been Mora and Luca Chiantore, whom I feel as my two great teachers, with such opposite visions that they are almost at the extremes. And that has allowed me to form and find myself, because the fact of meeting such opposite visions has made me have a critical vision and absorb from both sides.
The last one would be Paulí Peña, a composer from the Canary Islands that I was very close to when I was young, who composed everything, including advertisements, and whom I admired so much that I wanted to do the same as him. And also Mónica Buxó, who trusted me as a student when the other teachers said that music was not my thing. She directed me towards the piano and from then on I gained self-confidence and there was no turning back. In short, there are references closer and others more distant, even in time, because music is just that, an immense variety.
You just received an award for best videogame music at the Tenerife Festival for The Turtle Game. You dare to do anything! Also, with talent and receiving recognition. What work do you feel most satisfied with?
This is a very complicated question! But look, I’ll answer: the one I feel most like mine is Femina Feminae, for clarinet and piano, which I recorded with Marta Urzaiz. It’s an album that I hold in high esteem and that we made during the pandemic. We recorded it at home (NOTE: Marta is Gerard’s partner), and it is music for the image, but different because they are two works, but the first one, Femina Feminae, is music inspired by paintings, as Mussorgsky did in Pictures at an Exhibition. In collaboration with the Thyssen Museum, in whose museum in Andorra I gave one of the most beautiful concerts I remember, in which I performed as a pianist, I was inspired by eight paintings to create music with impressionist characteristics, which is not usual in cinema.
I love impressionism, that’s why I have introduced the theme “Flowers” in the Batman suite for the concert, which is a little gem. Many times, when I sit down at the piano to improvise, I end up in impressionism, because it’s a style that fascinates me. In fact, even the theme of The Turtle Game has an impressionist touch, because it has a marine background, and in that landscape, everything that is textures, mermaid choirs. And now, precisely, I have written a waltz inspired by Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers” and Ravel’s “La Valse”, but short, about three minutes, for a Japanese carousel. And that’s what I like about my life: last week I was composing this waltz, this week I’m working on this concert, and next week I’ll start preparing the stop-motion project. For example, with my website I have a problem, because it is always “under construction”, since people come to look for me as a composer, but also as a conductor, pianist… Artist, in short…
I was just going to ask you how your career as a director is developing, where did it start and where is it going?
Well, it started out of an indignation during a rehearsal I witnessed in Birmingham, with the Conservatoire Orchestra, because there was a conductor, who wasn’t a conductor. He was actually a string teacher or something like that, and we happened to do a rehearsal and I got indignant because I thought that I, who had no idea, could be doing a lot more. And then a friend of mine, who is Armando Merino, who is a conductor, who is very good and is making a career in Germany, asked me to accompany him to a class of Jordi Mora when we were studying together at ESMUC, that I was sure I was going to like it. And so it was, with him I began to learn the branch of phenomenology and conducting from this musical point of view, and I understood that I could compose much better than if I studied composition in a higher degree, because of my way of being. Besides, he was the one who gave me the classes in conducting, and so I began to study conducting, at the same time that I was looking for coblas to conduct, because, just as in Valencia there is a tradition of music bands, here in Catalonia we have this other fantastic tradition.
But while I was looking for coblas, I had the opportunity to conduct a band, the Cerdanyola band, when I was about twenty-four years old and I had been studying conducting for a year and a half. I asked my teacher for permission and he gave it to me because it was a band and not an orchestra, because the reaction of a band to the gesture is more immediate, and the great danger when you start working in conducting is that the gesture is deformed. To master it, I worked for many years with bands and coblas, and my gesture was forming until I began to work with an amateur orchestra, the Simfònica Tekhné, with which we started with less than twenty musicians and ended up being about seventy in three years, with which we did a great job, because otherwise, that would not have happened.
Then Tobias Gossmann, a great German conductor, invited me to work with the Philharmonic Orchestra of the University of Alicante. So the film recordings I have always conducted personally, because I know my music well. That doesn’t mean that I don’t require supervision. I usually ask my friend Armando for this, even if it is on-line from Munich, while the recording is taking place, because I value his opinion enormously. And apart from the Cobla Simfònica Catalana, I am also working a lot as a guest conductor, because regular conducting is very demanding, and since I started to focus on working regularly in the world of amusement parks, I conduct on a project basis and asking for permissions. Now I’m shooting a film, now I’m directing a concert, next month the Cobla. Always for specific projects.
In this sense, I wanted to ask you precisely how it has been to put you in charge of a project like this concert, MARVEL vs DC?
Well, it’s been a dream come true, because there are works that I grew up with, like Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, and music by composers like Elfman, Silvestri. At the same time, to include here Pinar Toprak’s music for Captain Marvel, which is spectacular, which incorporates more music than just the fanfare, forming a suite with themes like “New Clothes”, so that you can see the sweet part of the composition, or the “New Problems”, which is fascinating, and that in the film is somewhat hidden, but that really could have been composed by Williams himself.
It is wonderful, because it is a program that pays tribute to my adolescence, while at the same time it is a manifestation of how I think concert music programs should be today, despite the demands, because it is very difficult to perform these works. There are some, like the Superman march, which the Orchestra knows, as they have performed it on many occasions. But then we have themes like Batman, which yes, they are known, but they have been little performed, and they are complex and difficult for the musicians to perform.
In addition, it is a repertoire that has constant changes of measures, tempo, and even register. To go from Beck’s “Elektra’s Second Life” to Wallfisch’s Shazam! in less than thirty seconds, for example, requires great mental flexibility. Because then comes Elfman’s Hulk, followed by Zimmer’s Wonder Woman 1984, and so on. All that is very demanding for both the musician and the director. And even more so in my case, as I conduct everything from memory, so I have carried out the preparation very conscientiously, which has meant being concentrated all week in Tarragona, with morning rehearsals, and study in the afternoon and evening at the hotel, isolated from the world. The result is that now it will sound as if we had played it all our lives, and the public should enjoy it, because they know them very well.
Do you side with one or the other, Marvel or DC?
(*laughs*) Well, Danny Elfman has created the sound of the last few years of the genre, and I’ve said so on social media. On a story level, I find the continuity that Marvel has generated in its own Universe fascinating. It’s very similar to the Star Wars saga, and I like that a lot. It’s a fascinating project. DC, on the other hand, has Batman, who is my favorite superhero, and who also has the most sagas in the DC Universe. Musically, I’ll stick with Elfman.
The whole program is very interesting, even those works that have been left out, because we could not do a four-hour concert, but there are some that are not there for logistical reasons, others for balance. That’s why we had to include pieces like Elektra, which people may not expect, but if everything were epic themes, people would end up exhausted, with a dull head. The director’s concept of breathing has to be taken into account.
If in the end, people enjoy so much, it is also because of what has been done at the beginning, including themes such as Elektra, which is a candy that has also surprised many musicians in the orchestra. If I take sides, it’s more for a purely individual matter, because Batman is my favorite superhero, and it’s DC. But Captain Marvel is a marvel, as is The Avengers. If I had to choose between a Marvel-only or DC-only concert, I prefer to combine them, because the richness that we have in this concert, with Marvel alone or with DC, I don’t find it.
I was just going to ask you, why not dedicate a concert to each of the two franchises?
If we could do a series of concerts, it would be a different story. But if you have to do a single concert, it’s different. It’s like Beethoven’s Symphonies. Playing the First and the Second, the Third and the Fourth, etc., is not the best way for me to listen to this genius. If you only have the opportunity to do one concert, you can’t approach this any other way. But how do you leave out Superman, or Batman, or The Avengers, or Captain Marvel? I think it would be more of a “political” decision than a musical one. It’s clear to me.
I am pleased to note your devotion to the Captain Marvel score, because you are one of the few who defend it in an open manner, a viewpoint I share with you and defend in my book.
And the most interesting thing is to observe how the music has been worked in the various Marvel movies, because as the music has been worked in Captain Marvel, or in The Avengers, it gives the impression of having been composed by the same author, despite being by Silvestri and Toprak, and tell absolutely different stories. Of course, DC had Williams on Superman. And Elfman on Batman. I don’t know if it was pure luck. I personally like Tim Burton’s films a lot, but I like Nolan’s versions better. Now, musically, no. I like Elfman’s stuff much better than Zimmer’s.
Likewise, there was also Jerry Goldsmith’s Supergirl, but with all due respect, I find it an expendable score. I don’t think it’s his best work, in which he also combines electronics in a nefarious way, which has become very old-fashioned. Captain Marvel will not be outdated because the electronics are very well combined. I think Goldsmith was a victim at the time of the circumstances, and while the work has interesting things and a lot of color, you can tell it’s not in the vein of what Goldsmith was doing and it doesn’t quite work. On the other hand, the march of Silvestri’s Captain America, it is not that it resembles Williams’ Superman, as some musicians pointed out to me, it is that it is pure American sound, characteristic of the last fifty years. It is that they are friends, references, colleagues. People who admire each other, how can they not compose similar things?
What kind of materials have you used to prepare the concert? How do you access the scores?
Well, many of them are not accessible. All the material has been made specifically for this concert. Albert Mañosa and Marta Urzaiz are my team, with whom I make all the symphonic transcriptions, because the orchestras, when they have to play this kind of material, find that some scores are not edited. Others that are recorded are used for rehearsals, but even in those existing recordings things have been touched up. The scores are very expensive, because they are usually rented on a piece-by-piece basis. These are materials that have errors and have to be revised. It is complicated.
There are some that, like the Superman theme, are is published. We reviewed it, and yet it still contains errors that we have notified the publisher. Even so, this is the easy material. There are some errors, some things that need to be added. Then there are those works of which we have the manuscripts, which have been circulating for years, and which also need to be revised, because there are always changes in the recordings. And from the manuscript, we carry out the dictation, listening bar by bar, note by note. It is a slow process of correction.
And then there are those of which there is no material of any kind. We only have the mp3, as for example happened with Shazam! and Captain Marvel. Of the first one there was absolutely nothing, because it has never been played in concert. If the composer finds out he will surely be surprised. Just like Christophe Beck, if he finds out that Elektra has been performed in concert. The work has been a balance between these three modalities and four months of very intense work, because, for example, Batman has between forty and fifty errors per movement, which the publisher is grateful that we communicate to correct in the next edition.
In addition, I have had the extra contribution of your book, The Music behind the Mask (read more), which has been very useful to consult and contextualize the program. The initial historical part interested me less this time, and I have gone, due to lack of time, directly to those films that I was going to include in the program. There I have been able to find assessment and information of the most important sequences, musically speaking, which has really been a great help!
Thank you very much, Gerard, it’s an honor you say that about my book! But I was struck by the inclusion of John Williams’ Return of the Jedi – how does it relate to the world of superheroes?
Well, because the “Ewoks” is a Marvel comic from the eighties, which was made after the movie. And we needed a piece that was “nice”. We thought of The Incredibles, by Giacchino, but due to logistical problems it had to be discarded, since we would have needed drums, saxophones, etc. I was interested in this “historical” point of view, and that people would look for those comics after the concert, which have a psychedelic coloring that almost hurts the eyes. That’s why we also included Conan. The one from Return of the Jedi also, is that I really like it, and we don’t do the edited version of the suite by Williams himself, but the original one from the film, because I like it much more. All this is because I understand that it is a family concert, for everyone, and for those who do not know the comics of Conan or the Ewoks, young people, may be curious.
Do you think there is a canon of interpretation to be followed in the superheroic genre or, on the contrary, does it admit all kinds of interpretations?
On a musical level… For example, there’s The Incredibles, which is very much in the Disney/Marvel line, because it’s clearly Marvel-inspired, but at the same time it’s a different score. It’s character-driven. To me Hulk, by Elfman, seems very valid, which also has a very particular sonority, and lacks melody. But it is well represented, as a kind of “mad doctor”, in the chords of the flutes, very present in the credits, with very specific sonorities and textures. It depends a lot on the character and the story, but it is very valid. I think it’s important that, especially Marvel, which is following a line, doesn’t fall into self-plagiarism, that it knows how to find the nuances. For example, with Captain America, who is a national and military symbol, it has to maintain that differential line. Just as film music does not have a defined style, the imaginary of superheroes is also changing. Right now it may have recognizable signs, but it has been changing since Williams broke through with Superman. Then came Elfman with Batman, and then Spider-Man, which opens the door to a different sound. Immediately after that, the Hulk. And so it goes all the way to Justice League.
The Captain America of the first film has nothing to do with that of the second, the Winter Soldier, where the character lives immersed in the 21st century, in a very sophisticated espionage plot that cries out for that electronic sonority that characterizes the work of Henry Jackman.
Totally. And therefore the propagandistic march of the first one disappears. It is important not to be a victim of oneself. In these big studios, this usually happens.
I’m telling you this because, although Zimmer is a very popular composer, he doesn’t really fit in the DC Universe, and they seem a bit disoriented…
Notice that we only played one piece by Zimmer, Wonder Woman 1984, specifically “Lost and Found”, which is the final piece, close to Bruckner, because the rest is very difficult to structure within this concert due to its electronics (Nolan’s Batman, for example). This did not work for me. Hulk, for example, was at the limit, because it has a lot of electronic percussion, but with the transcription that we have managed to do combined with the keyboard, which acts as a synthesizer, it has been possible. But with Zimmer it was very difficult.
It is that, in addition, to see certain movies like Captain Marvel or The Avengers, and not emotionally link the music with the images is a drama. You have to take it home with you! Yesterday after the concert in Tarragona, people were singing and whistling the Superman theme, still at this point! Zimmer’s work for Nolan’s Batman is exceptional, but this is a music concert and off screen, no matter how much name its authors have, I don’t see any interest in this music. Wonder Woman, on the other hand, is a blast. You see how it becomes great, and how the musicians live it. I’m on the verge of tears!
I think that here he tried to recover some pieces that from time to time he offers us, like those choruses of Red Tide, or The Peacemaker, where you can see the Germanic composer’s point. WW is Bruckner, Mahler, Wagner, all at the same time! It is a piece that works in concert. And that has been in the end what has prevailed in the concert, what has articulated it. There are notable absences such as Iron Man. Or Ant-Man. But we can’t integrate a rock band only for one piece.
In this sense, what does the concert bring to you?
Well, many things. It makes me grow as a musician. Film music, and this I have remarked a lot to the orchestra, has managed to overcome the last traces of a whole elitist machinery that had it confronted and badly considered, as a kind of second rate music, and most of the musicians, with an average age of about thirty-five years, have grown up with all this music leaving behind all these objections.
In addition, we have gone very deeply into the work. There have been four rehearsals of about three and a half hours, working a lot on the repertoire bar by bar, looking a lot at the balance, the phrasing. It is music that contributes to the musicians, and they contribute to me. I learn a lot about instrumentation when transcribing. At the end of the concert, I am a better composer, a better conductor, a better orchestrator, and, therefore, that is fantastic. Besides, it’s my debut at the Palau de la Música. Well, I had been before with a cobla, with live radio. But although it was packed, it was only three minutes with a sardana. It was very good, but today is a whole program, and as a solo orchestra conductor. A program, moreover, is the one I most wanted because it is the one that most influenced me when I decided to become a musician.
It may be a little strange, and perhaps it would be more normal to debut with Mozart or Beethoven. But I have already conducted that kind of concerts. The Seventh, the Fifth, several times. But I am making my debut at the Palau like this. In front of my whole family. With my grandmother, my partner, my son. It has an extraordinary personal value.
Gerard, where does the future point to?
Right now, I am a theme park content director. That involves composing the music, doing the sound planning, carrying out the audiovisual designs, directing the audiovisual shows, directing the video content, with all that entails creating characters and stories. It’s quite a creative challenge. I’m a creative, now.
Regarding the musical aspect of this job, I really like it. It takes me to travel, to improve my English. To work with illustrators, scriptwriters. It’s a continuous enrichment. Every week new things come up, with meetings in Japan, in Palestine. I was recently in London, then in Sweden… The good thing is that I have a family that accompanies me and understands me a lot, because, for example, this summer there was no vacation. That’s the way things are in this job. Iván Palomares, a great composer and a very good friend of mine, told me that someone had told him that “in this job, either you die of hunger or you die of sleep”. Me, I am dying of sleep… When we have a day off, we squeeze it to the last drop!
The future is that, to conduct cobla; to be in a month and a half doing a tour of parks in northern Europe; to design a shopping center in Palestine, with theme park and amusement park; symphonic transcriptions for large orchestras: I have a commission, and I tell you this as an absolute first, for the Franz Schubert Orchestra itself to compose a work of impressionist character on paintings by Van Gogh, for the season 2023-24.
There is a balance between all of this, between long-term projects, and others that come up on a weekly or even daily basis. Although I have worked a lot on film music and would like to continue doing so. Something I started with Arnau, but have continued to do with Ivan in the series La Cocinera de Castamar, as an additional composer and assistant. I really like this figure of assistant or helper. I have no problem with it. Because it’s also working on something different, without so much pressure. And in the end, everything turns out very creative.
I don’t make plans and I focus on what I’m doing. This week the orchestra was playing, and so it was. It was a lot of responsibility, because this music is very difficult to play, and you’re in front of a lot of people, besides your family, your parents…
Finally, you have talked a lot about Elfman as a composer of reference, but nowadays, it is Michael Giacchino who has taken the helm of Marvel, which seems to bet on that symphonic tradition. What is your opinion of this composer?
I love Giacchino. I would have really liked to include The Incredibles, but… I’ve been thinking for some time now that when Williams leaves, which is getting closer and closer, who will take his place? There are many composers, but I remember that I was very touched by the music of Super 8, for example, and it received very bad reviews, both the film and the music. But I love the film, and his music is… It has a level on a par with Williams. Already with The Incredibles, one wondered where this “monster” had come from! Moreover, he is an all-rounder as evidenced by his incursions into such different terrains as the Star Wars universe with Rogue One, and now with The Batman. Just like Desplat, who works with Wes Anderson, who makes Little Women or Harry Potter. Giacchino’s case reminds me in part of Goldsmith’s, who had very good films, but other B, and even C films. As well as composers like Bruce Broughton, who for me is extraordinary and who has done a lot of music for the Disney parks in the USA. He has given me scores through Facebook, which I thank him very much. He’s a lovely person, but he’s done J movies! He’s never had any luck in capturing good projects!
Well, Gerard, congratulations on the success of this concert, which I am sure is what is going to happen this afternoon, and thank you for spending some of your very busy time with us.
A pleasure, and thank you for your interest!
Interview by Frederic Torres
Pictures (Interview) by Mar Úbeda
Pictures (Concert) by Martí E. Berenguer (FSF)