Once again, the month of May marks a worldwide milestone in the calendar of film music with the celebration of the Krakow Film Music Festival; the festival that offers the largest number of events (master classes, lectures, concerts, meetings, recitals…) and guests (composers, musicians, agents, publicists…), related to film, TV & video games music.
Gorka Oteiza (SoundTrackFest), went to Krakow (Poland) and attended most of the events that were held at the festival from May 30th to June 3rd, 2018, and tells us in this special article how was this 11th edition.
NOTE: You can find detailed information about the festival’s concert program in the following link (read news) and complete information about the audiovisual forum activities in the following link (read news).
Although practically the festival had already begun on Monday 28th with different master classes, mainly dedicated to composers and specialized audiences, for many people the festival was going to begin today: Wednesday, May 30th.
At 12 noon, a Press Conference was held to inaugurate the Festival with the presence of Agnieszka Holland, Krzysztof Penderecki, Elliot Goldenthal, Jan A.P. Kaczmarek, Eimear Noone, Antoni Komasa Łazarkiewicz, Izabela Helbin, Robert Piaskowski, and the mayor of the city Jacek Majchrowski, moderated by Magda Miśka Jackowska.
Among the many interesting things that were said in the conference, I would like to highlight two: the first one pointed by the film director Agnieszka Holland, who indicated that we had traveled a long way since the movies did not have music, until now that the music was becoming something very important and fundamental to tell stories, because it established a connection with the spectators. She also commented that she loved to use the music and take advantage of it, feeling that she was kind of a “thief”, in a way that she considered that music magnified her work.
On the other hand, composer Jan A.P. Kaczmarek made a very interesting reflection about the importance of film music inside and outside the big screen. He commented how today, film music is gaining more and more strength outside of its natural environment, in live music events, in concert halls and festivals. But nevertheless, he found out how the money that is used or destined to generate, produce and create that music in the movies, is getting smaller, and the schedules are getting reduced.
He gave as an example that 20 years ago, in a film in which he worked with Agnieszka Holland, Washington Square, the budget he had for the music was almost 10 times higher than what he was having today in similar films, but nevertheless, the music was asked to have the same quality in the end. In this press conference, Kaczmarek wanted to make an appeal to the producers and raise a warning signal, indicating that if we want to create quality content, they have to allocate more resources, since the music of those films, is the music that is we will listen to in the future in many of the concert halls.
The press conference ended with a great cake, that was taken to the center of the room, and that was distributed among all those present, guests and audience, thus officially inaugurating the festival.
From that moment, there would be many workshops, lectures, master classes and round tables throughout the day, which would be very difficult to attend in their entirety, if not impossible, since they would require dedicating the whole day only to them. So in this article I will comment in detail those to which I could go and I will briefly mention those that would have been interesting, but to which I could not go.
You can find a reference of all the events included in the “Audiovisual Forum” of the festival at the following link:
As a summary, indicate that the rest of the day brought the following events one after the other: a round table on music consultants and their work in the movies (Music consultant: A friend or a foe? with Paweł Juzwuk, Anna Malarowska, Patrycja Bukowska moderated by Agata Grabowiecka), a masterclass on composition for video games by Richard Jacques and Chris Brown (How to Score a Video Game – Expert Advice from the Frontline) and another master class to end the day on how to conduct recording sessions of video games scores with Eimear Noone (Conducting video games recording sessions).
In the evening, at 20h, at the ICE Kraków Congress Center, the Penderecki2Cinema concert took place, which had music by three authors Goldenthal / Nyman / Penderecki, and which was a repetition of the concert offered the previous day in Katowice, although without the ceremony of the Wojciech Kilar Award (read more).
Although Michael Nyman was initially announced for this concert, and also for the previous day’s ceremony as recipient of the award, in the end he did not attend, and we had Elliot Goldenthal and Krzysztof Penderecki as special guests.
The concert, performed by the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Dirk Brossé and with Tine Thing Helseth to the trumpet, had the following program:
The concert featured images projected on a large screen over the orchestra, which, without being completely synchronized with the music, tried to visually illustrate in some way what we were listening to. The first piece, of a Baroque style with images of old films, turned out to be very interesting, giving way later to a version of the famous score for ‘The Piano’ by Michael Nyman played only by the strings section of the orchestra, without a piano. This fact left the piece quite ‘washed-out’ and without the strength of that imperfect piano that you can feel in Nyman’s work. A reduction / simplification of the original work, which was not entirely successful. To complete the first part, Elliot Goldenthal‘s concert for trumpet and strings was performed, where the trumpet soloist shone with her virtuosity and had some interesting passages, but offered a piece that as a whole, was a bit dense and long, in its more than 16 minutes of duration. And so, when we had spent almost an hour of concert, it was time for the intermission.
The second half began shortly after 21:30h, dedicated entirely to Krzysztof Penderecki. There, 4 pieces of varied styles were offered, where probably the second piece can be highlighted, the Symphony number 2, ending the concert at 22:30h.
The music of Penderecki is not simple neither easy to listen to, and thus, this concert, that dedicated most of its extension to his music, became something a bit difficult for the untrained ears. The usual audience of a film music concert, accustomed to concerts of a certain symphonic sound, were probably not very satisfied with it, although no one disputes the quality of the orchestra or of its conducting. Maybe this concert would have been more appropriate if it was scheduled outside the festival, since the cinematographic links were not as strong as in other concerts of the festival.
Once again the day started with a master class offered at 10:30h at the festival’s conference center, where well-known professionals from the film music industry, gave a lecutre with instructions on how to become a professional in the sector (Turning Pro: Who and What You Need To Know? With Richard Bellis, George Christopoulos, Craig Stuart Garfinkle, Ray Costa, moderated by Michael Todd). Among the many recommendations that were given, I have to highlight that they recommended to try and get as much experience as possible through working as an assistant or an intern, since this would be as important as education when it comes to getting a job. It was also advised to study film and not just music, because when you are composing for a movie, you are narrating, and you are taking to a musical level that script that the film has.
Here you have the full video of the master class, which was broadcast live at that moment:
Next at 12 noon, the following conference was held ‘ENCOUNTER WITH THE ARTISTS – Agnieszka Holland: Music in my movies’ with the participation of Agnieszka Holland, Jan A.P. Kaczmarek, Antoni Komasa Łazarkiewicz, moderated by Robert Piaskowski and Magda Miśka Jackowska. There, the famous and renowned director was accompanied by two of the composers with whom she had worked, to explain how was her creative process and how music helped her to raise the spirit of the film. Agnieszka Holland made it clear that good film music is not the same as good music: it is the one that best serves the film, since it creates a dialogue and synergizes with the movie.
Here you have a partial video of the conference, which was broadcast live at that moment:
The morning ended with another two talks, one dedicated to music in documentaries (PANEL DISCUSSION – Music in documentary film: expectations vs. ambitions with Petro Aleksowski, Michał Jacaszek, Marta Prus, Mikołaj Stroiński, moderated by Dagmara Romanowska) and another one dedicated to the legal aspects of the use of music in a film (PANEL DISCUSSION AND CONSULTATIONS – Legal aspects of using music in a film with Michał Woźniak, Petro Aleksowski, Michał Jacaszek, Maciej Bochniak, Mikołaj Pokromski, moderated by Marcin Lassota).
Using a brief and short gap in the afternoon that day, I had the opportunity to interview the cellist Tina Guo, who provided very interesting information about the beginning of her career, and about the type of music she likes to listen, to write and to play, as well as talking about her participation in the recording sessions of multiple OSTs and in live concerts.
In the evening, at 20h, the Scoring4Polish Directors concert was held with Agnieszka Holland as a special guest star and Jan A.P. Kaczmarek, Antoni Komasa-Łazarkiewicz, Radzimir Dębski (JIMEK), Sandro di Stefano, and Zbigniew Preisner as guest composers. Note the absence of Clint Mansell, who although was announced as a guest and his music was part of the evening, did not attend the festival nor the concert.
The concert, performed by the AUKSO Chamber Orchestra conducted by Marek Moś and the Cracow Singers choir conducted by Karol Kusz, with the sopranos Liliana Pociecha and Rebecca Palmer, had the following program:
The first part started with the music of Sandro di Stefano – The Man with The Magic Box, in a suite that included melancholy and sadness but overcoming at the end, to later give way to a suite of several themes of Clint Mansell – Loving Vincent with choir, following with the music of JIMEK, which was the true protagonist of the first part.
The first piece of JIMEK was dedicated to the film The Art of love, and started with percussion and electric guitar, very rhythmic, which later was joined by the orchestra offering a fusion of jazz, representing different periods in Poland. A piece that was very well received. The composer, was in charge of conducting the orchestra, and he did it in a curious and peculiar way, but apparently quite effectively. The second piece, dedicated to the film Panic attack, had enough relation with the name, being quite curious and special music. It began with some out-of-tune, broken, dissonant instruments, without images, generating an unsettling and tense climate, to later give way to a rhythmic and complex music with a lot of variations, where the “un-tuned” piano was quite important. A powerful ending for a very interesting first half.
In the second half, dedicated the music of films / series directed by Agnieszka Holland, we could highlight the great suite of Jan A.P. Kaczmarek’s music, where over the course of about 25 minutes, different themes of 3 films were performed, one after the other with brief pauses.
Next, a video message by Jeff Beal gave way to a ‘fantasy for flute’ from House of Cards, a new suite prepared especially for the festival, which had the expertise of flutist Sara Andon, giving a new and fresh touch to a music that we already knew. A great suite! The concert continued with the music of Zbigniew Preisner, melodic and very pleasant, arriving at the end to a correct Spoor suite by Antoni Komasa-Łazarkiewicz, finishing the concert at 23h.
In general we could say that the concert was very good and more interesting than the concert of the previous day, although the quality of both is not comparable, since the pieces were very different and the difficulty of them too. It is true that this second concert was something more similar to what we can expect when we go looking for a concert of film music, which is likely to make it more pleasing for the general public.
On Friday, June 1st, the day started early, at 10 o’clock, with the first master class of the day with videogame composer Christopher Drake, who explained what it is like to work in the world of video games and to create music for them.
Here you have the full video of the master class, which was broadcast live at that moment:
Then there were two meetings with Polish artists in a talk divided into two parts called Scoring 4 Polish Directors (Scoring 4 Polish Directors – Part 1 with Radzimir Dębski – JIMEK, Marysia Sadowska, Paweł Maślona, Jan Kwieciński, Piotr Starak, Bartosz Chajdecki, moderated by Agata Grabowiecka and Scoring 4 Polish Directors – Part 2 with Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, Bodo Kox, Roman Jarosz, Sandro Di Stefano, moderated by Magda Miśka-Jackowska).
At 3 o’clock we had a very interesting roundtable with artists ranging from the Canarian singer Esther Ovejero to the veteran composer Elliot Goldenthal, the consecrated composer Atli Örvarsson and the young composer Marcin Przybyłowic, or the expert composer in video games music Austin Wintory, that spoke of that music that is created locally but ends up being enjoyed globally. Among many other things, emphasis was placed on the important role of folk music or music that has its roots in certain countries (ENCOUNTER WITH THE ARTISTS – Locally grown film music with Atli Örvarsson, Esther Ovejero, Elliot Goldenthal, Marcin Przybyłowicz, Austin Wintory, moderated by Tim Greiving).
Here you have the full video of the roundtable, which was broadcast live at that moment:
And that night at 18h, there was the first concert of the double session of concerts that were going to enjoy. The TAURON Arena Kraków was going to be the center of attention for audiences of all ages, with the celebration of the event ‘Disney in Concert – Beauty and the Beast (2017)’. Having the film presented in its original version in Polish subtitled in English, and with the music offered by the orchestra live and the main roles also performed and sung on the stage live, a different, daring, risky, and very well performed function took place, which was a joy for both children and adults. And the new music of Alan Menken for this version of the movie, added to the one that already existed and for which he won the Oscar, has rejuvenated a classical movie in a spectacular way.
The concert had chosen the date of June 1st for a specific reason, to coincide with the celebration of the International Children’s Day, presenting an almost full venue, mainly composed of families with children who came to enjoy the function.
The show featured the Polish Radio Choir and the Beethoven Academy Orchestra conducted by Erik Ochsner, and the only thing that can be said is that the conductor did a fabulous and great job getting everyone in perfect sync, even if the singers, coming mainly from the world of opera, did not have all the experience that would have been desired for this type of concert.
The orchestra was fabulous and the choir perfectly complemented all the musical pieces, giving a great depth to the score as a whole. A risky bet, since daring to have live voices for the songs, was something that could have gone wrong, but in this case, it ended up being great. A very highly recommended concert.
And then we went to the concert Dance2Cinema: All About Almodóvar | Funk & Folk: Atli Örvarsson & Torrek to be held at the Museum of Municipal Engineering at 22h, which was in fact a double concert.
In the first part we were going to have songs of the films of Pedro Almodóvar (in a concert co-produced jointly with the Tenerife International Film Music Festival – Fimucité). The powerful voice of Esther Ovejero was accompanied by a group of musicians with piano, percussion, guitar and double bass, giving life to multiple themes typical of the films of Almodóvar, which although were out of the usual register of the symphonic film music, were highly enjoyable.
The second block had a special folk scent, since there, Atli Örvarsson and his group Torrek offered a concert called Funk & Folk – Atli Örvarsson & Torrek, where the composer alternated between accordion, piano and keyboard, to accompany the rest of group’s participants that included solo voice, violin, drums and different woodwind instruments.
The technical resume of both concerts was the following:
Both concerts were very enjoyable, but maybe they would have been concerts that could have been scheduled outside of a film music festival, since their cinematographic links, once again, were quite weak. The quality of the concerts, which were very good and enjoyable, is not being questioned here, but rather the suitability to be part of the festival’s main program, in detriment of other concerts that could have fit better.
As a negative point to note, the place where the concerts were held, the Museum of Municipal Engineering, was a diaphanous pavilion with multiple columns, but had very poor ventilation for the crowd that attended the event. This caused to be very hot inside, not being comfortable or pleasant to be there listening to the music. In fact, you were forced to leave from time to time to take fresh air.
We arrived at the big day of the festival, Saturday, June 2nd, where the great gala was going to be celebrated, but first in the morning, we had the usual panels and master classes.
The first at 10 o’clock was a roundtable that debated how the music had evolved from the big screen to the “streaming” world, focusing on the life that a soundtrack has and the different media through which it passes, in addition to telling how the technologies have changed the way of producing and consuming film music. Entitled From Screen to Streaming: The Life of a Soundtrack the panel had Robert Townson, James Fitzpatrick, Mikael Carlsson, Anton Smit, and moderated by Lucy Bright.
Here you have the full video of the roundtable, which was broadcast live at that moment:
Following, at 11h, a conference was held with composers Dustin O’Halloran & Hauschka presented by Chandler Poling, which talked about how it was to compose music with “four hands”, that is, how to work when there are two composers forming part of the same soundtrack (Co-Composing: When Two Composers Are in the Picture with Dustin O’Halloran, Hauschka (Volker Bertelmann), moderated by Chandler Poling).
And to finish the panels of this day, at 12 o’clock a conference began that was going to talk about the future of film music critics of and their work as “influencers”. Throughout the talk, many things were debated, such as the ethics that must be maintained when making reviews, or how the most important aspect are the readers and how to be faithful to them by saying what you think, or how sometimes more than being “influencers” these critics should be considered “referencers”, that is, points of reference for those people who may have similar tastes.
This round table, which was moderated by Gary Marlowe, featured SoundTrackFest through Gorka Oteiza, bringing the point of view of live music at concerts and festivals, and how the reviews that are written can help people to have references if a concert or a festival is worth or can meet expectations (The Future – Critics as Influencers with Ray Bennett, Eleni Mitsiaki, Artur Filipowicz, Kinga Wojciechowska, Gorka Oteiza, moderated by Gary Marlowe).
Here you have the full video of the roundtable, which was broadcast live at that moment:
At 13h, that day’s conferences ended, as today there was going also to be a double feature concert. The first at 15h at the ICE Kraków Congress Center with Cinematic Piano: Lion performed by composers Hauschka and Dustin O’Halloran. The event consisted of a quite sober stage, in which the two pianos that the composers were going to use had been placed, one in front of the other. With the help of certain electronic elements and diverse special items, these pianos were going to represent a kind of duel at times or mixture at other moments, offering different themes from the soundtrack of the movie Lion, as well as some slight improvisations and variations. A curious and brief concert, which lasted about one hour, and which was good but did not leave a special mark.
At the end of the concert I had the opportunity to interview two special guests of the festival, Atli Örvarsson first and Erik Ochsner then.
And so at 19h, the festival’s grand gala began, the Video Games Music Gala at the TAURON Arena Kraków with the Beethoven Academy Orchestra conducted by Ludwig Wicki and the Pro Musica Mundi Choir, in a concert dedicated entirely to video games music.
As a curiosity, note that most of the pieces that were to be performed had their composers in the audience or on stage (Austin Wintory, Richard Jacques, Eimear Noone, Marcin Przybyłowicz, Jan Sanejko, Piotr Musiał, Mikołaj Stroiński, Jesper Kyd, Elliot Goldenthal, Christopher Drake).
This is the full information of the concert:
The concert had an almost full stadium, mostly young people wanting to listen to the music of the videogames that they have played or heard so much about. Quite punctual, the evening started at 19:05h with a fabulous suite of Medal of Honor – Michael Giacchino that had a spectacular use of the choir at the end of the piece. From the beginning we could see a curious feature of the concert, and it was that all the visual elements that were to accompany the pieces, were cinematic images or computer generated images, related with the video games that were being performed. As a funny point, in those cinematic renders, the live images of the orchestra were included, either on television screens, windows, or in other elements, merging them with the 3D images of the video games and giving a funny and real appearance. An original and very curious idea.
After a few short presentations, there was a tribute to two composers who had left us recently Daniel Licht and Jóhann Jóhannsson, being in fact the next piece a suite from Silent Hill in tribute to Daniel Licht. A curious piece with strange and disturbing sounds, where the cello of Tina Guo offered a very strong and very marked counterpoint, and where the electric mandolin and the voice of the singer Norman Kim, that sometimes seemed as if it alternated between masculine and feminine voice, gave a great touch to the suite.
After 19:30h began the block dedicated to the music of Austin Wintory, with the composer himself taking the baton, and starting with the well-known and famous music of Journey, one of his greatest hits and one of his most famous compositions. The block started with the theme Apotheosis in which Tina Guo once again was the main player, in a soft and subtle way at the beginning, to deliver feeling and color to the piece later. Then came ABZÛ: Delphinus delphis ending with the great Assasin’s Creed Syndicate: Ballet of Blades that featured Sara Andon on the flute.
Almost 45 minutes of concert had passed and it was the turn of Richard Jacques with a concert suite of the game Headhunter that had a very dynamic and action rhythm, well-accompanied by the choir. Around 20h there was a brief pause to present the Young Talent Award 2018 that went to Marco Valerio Antonini. The young composer presented an action piece of 3 minutes, with a clear John Barry – James Bond style, but at the same time very original, that was applied on a sequence of a videogame based on the adventures of the famous spy. A deserved winner of the contest since Marco Valerio Antonini’s piece was fabulous.
You can read more about this in the exclusive interview that SoundTrackFest conducted with Marco Valerio Antonini here:
Then we went back with Richard Jacques and this time with his music for James Bond, but let’s confess that compared to the piece that we just heard from Marco Valerio Antonini, the previous one was more pleasant than the new one, and even more appropriate for James Bond.
To finish the first part, we had a short block of music from the Irish composer and conductor Eimear Noone. With Eimear on stage, the first theme to be played was World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor: Malach, Angel Messenger, an explosive mix where multiple voices joined the orchestra and the choir, to offer a great multicolored and very powerful fusion. A great theme with a fabulous staging. Followed, the “preview” of a great piece from the game Runes of Aran – Lifeline with solo voice arrived, which closed the first part at about 20:30h.
Without losing time, since this concert/gala has always had an excessive duration, at 21h the second half of the concert started with the interesting and very well performed music for the video game Phantom Doctrine by the Polish composers Marcin Przybyłowicz, Jan Sanejko.
Afterwards, the Ambassador Award of the festival was presented to the company CD Projekt Red, creator of the game The Witcher 3, to give way to the music of the game in a great and very complete suite of about 10 minutes. It was time for another thematic block, dedicated to a composer who was also present at the concert, Jesper Kyd, which included his music for Assassin’s Creed 2, Assassin’s Creed, Hitman 2 and Hitman with Benoit Grey‘s mastery playing bass. We could highlight the theme Assassin’s Creed – Ezio’s family in a concert version with a lot of feeling and a fabulous mix of voices and strings.
Getting to the final part of the concert, and when it was 21:40h, came the suite Elliot Goldenthal – Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within; probably the only piece of the whole concert that was not properly from a video game, but from a saga of video games translated to the movies. A beautiful 10-minute suite that combined many different elements to offer a joint musical story that delighted the audience. One of the best pieces of the second half.
And to end the concert, and without offering any encores, since it was almost 3 hours since the night had started, 2 themes by Christopher Drake for Batman were performed, which, although they were animated and with rhythm, did not offer the final apotheosis that a concert of these characteristics demanded and required.
In short, we enjoyed almost 3 hours of a fun and entertaining concert, which had really good moments, but where an irregular program and a decaffeinated ending, didn’t create a concert that will remain in our memories as one of the great moments of the festival.
Today, Sunday, June 3rd, was nearly the final day of the festival, since all the remaining workshops and conferences were scheduled for today, and only a few events had been left for Monday or Tuesday, which were going to be lesser days in comparison.
At 12 o’clock a very interesting concert began, offered by the FMF Youth Orchestra and conducted by Monika Bachowska with the music of monster movies entitled “FMF Youth Orchestra: Monster Movie Music Madness” that was co-production by FIMUCITÉ and Soundtracks Live! (Mikael Carlsson).
Divided into four blocks, the concert started with a thematic section for the King Kong movies, followed by music from Frankenstein films from different eras, going then to the Aliens saga, and ending with films of iconic monsters such as Jaws, Gremlins or Jurassic Park. A concert performed by a Young Orchestra that gave everything, and delivered a very good performance with great enthusiasm. An orchestra that cannot be measured with the same scale of perfection as a professional orchestra, that did a great job.
The complete program was the following:
In the following link you can see several videos broadcast live during the concert, with several of its themes:
Then at 13:30h, and almost overlapping with the end of the concert, a rather curious event took place, a live music and painting show where Austin Wintory on piano, Tina Guo on cello and Sara Andon on flute, improvised musically under the influence of each-other, at the same time that the painter Ángela Bermúdez was capturing what the music evoked in a frame. The event was titled The Art of Inspiration – Live Musical Performance and Painting (Varèse Sarabande presents: Austin Wintory – piano, Angela Bermudez – painting, Tina Guo – cello, Sara Andon – flute, Eimear Noone, moderated by Robert Townson).
Here you have a partial video of the event, which was broadcast live at that moment:
After finishing the performance, the event had a second part, in a roundtable with all the participants accompanied by Eimear Noone, talking about what they had felt and what the music had meant to them, and how they had been altering and changing their performance depending on the improvisation of others.
Next, the last event of the day was a roundtable with several video game music composers entitled Breaking out of the Box: Music in Video Games that had Jasper Kyd, Richard Jacques, Christopher Drake, Marcin Przybyłowicz, Mikołaj Striński, Piotr Musiał, moderated by Seth Kaplan.
That night, at 19h, the last concert of the festival took place, or at least the last concert that I was going to be able to attend, since there was still a replay of the Young Orchestra‘s concert on Tuesday at Zakliczyn, the last official day of the festival.
Tonight was the turn for the movie Casino Royale in concert with live orchestra, and to the surprise of the audience, David Arnold, the composer of the soundtrack, appeared on the stage at the beginning of the evening to have a brief talk and give some indications about his music, then opening the film playing guitar.
The Sinfonietta Cracovia was very well conducted by Gavin Greenaway, offering a very precise orchestra that nailed the complex action moments. The sound mixing, both sound effects and voices, was very well balanced with the sound of the orchestra and only collided on specific occasions. David Arnold, who started the concert with a small talk, also closed it, since when the credits started he appeared to play the emblematic James Bond Theme on guitar.
A concert with a good performance, which was quite long, since the film itself lasts almost two and a half hours without pause, and the good music of David Arnold, does not hold in the same way a concert so long.
One more year, the Krakow Film Music Festival has demonstrated that it is the largest film music festival in the world, where many professional and fan events take place, including concerts, workshops, conferences, and many meetings, which allow you to enjoy film, television and video games music for a whole week.
Now, if we compare this edition with the previous edition of 2017, I think it could be said that it has been less powerful than the preceding one. It is true that last year the festival celebrated the 10th anniversary and therefore it was a special edition, so maintaining that level was somewhat difficult, but the challenge was there.
At an organizational level, the festival has been impeccable, as it always is, except for a mistake that could be considered important: not announcing publicly the absences of main composers. For the rest, the organization has been wonderful, as usual. But the problem of this edition has not been in the technical details, but in the contents, where the offer has been widely dispersed and has not been as successful as last year, where rich, diverse and varied contents were offered, that also covered all expectations.
This year the concert Penderecki2Cinema and the two concerts of Dance2Cinema have reduced the strength of the festival, which has been supported by two main pillars concert-wise: the Video Games Music Gala and the Scoring4Polish Directors concert, something obviously limited as a concert offer (and here it’s not included the FMF Youth Orchestra’s concert, that although it was great, it has to be considered on another level, like the fantastic master classes/conferences of the ‘Audiovisual Forum’).
In addition, the fact that from the two films in concert, one of them, James Bond’s ‘Casino Royale’, felt too long and could almost be omitted without having affection in the festival’s program, is a significant detail. ‘Beauty and the Beast’ concert, on the other hand, was a risky and wonderful experience, as it has been explained before.
As usual, we will finish this article by making a brief balance of the strong points and points to improve:
POINTS TO IMPROVE
Guests. Michael Nyman, who was one of the main guests of the festival, and who was going to receive the Kilar Award, did not attend the festival nor the concerts in which his music was going to be performed, and where he was going to pick up the prize. The fact that this was not officially announced by the organization was strange, because everyone was waiting to see whether he was going to finally attend the festival or not, even if it was in any other moment. Confirmation of the absence of a guest as important as this should have been made public in an official way. Something similar happened with Clint Mansell, who was also announced but didn’t come.
Concerts. Most of the festival’s concerts were adequate and were very good, but there’re some that could perhaps be questioned if they should have been part of the festival or not. Let’s make clear that the quality of the concerts it’s not being questioned, but their suitability to belong to the official program, or if perhaps they should be part of an alternative and parallel program. One of those concerts could be the Penderecki2Cinema, for the reasons said earlier, and the other ones, the two concerts included in the Dance2Cinema.
Locations. Most of the locations of the festival’s concerts were great, both the ICE Kraków Congress Center and the Tauron Arena mainly, but the Museum of Municipal Engineering, was not optimal for the type of concerts that were performed there. The high temperatures and the feeling of suffocation didn’t let the audience enjoy the concerts in a proper way.
Hand program. This point is something minor in comparison with the rest, but it should be indicated as a possible improvement. In the concerts there were no hand programs with the list of pieces that were going to be performed, and although in most of them you could see screens that explained which was the next piece to be played, that didn’t happen in the concert ‘Movie Monster Music Madness’, making the audience feel a little disoriented and not knowing exactly what piece was being played at every moment.
Official CD and record stores. Having a CD specially produced for the festival every year, with music from the composers that are going to attend the concerts is a wonderful idea. Also, having a CD store next to the places where the conferences are held and at the concert venues, is something really interesting. You can always buy music from composers that you just discovered that night, or find a CD that you were missing from your favorite composer (Polish or from other countries).
Volunteers and organization. As usual, the volunteers have been one of the strong points of the festival, with a troop of dedicated, committed and highly motivated people, who have endowed the festival with a lot of dynamism and have greased the machinery perfectly, so that everything would work as well as possible. This year it has been noted that although the group of volunteers worked very hard, it seemed that the resources were better sized than last year. Likewise, the festival’s office, the Krakowskie Biuro Festiwalowe, has played a fundamental role taking the full weight of the organization and coordination of the events, being the key to the success of such a complex festival with so many activities.
Facilities. The Krzysztofory Palace, which hosted most of the conferences, panels and meetings with composers, is a very well located venue, right in the center of the city, and easily accessible to come and go at your convenience. The venue is very well equipped with a large conference room that has simultaneous translation in English / Polish, as well as an adjacent rest area, and the technical office of the festival at hand. A place to keep for future editions.
Audiovisual Forum. The total of the activities included in the ‘Audiovisual Forum’ of the festival, offering master classes, lectures, roundtables and meetings is overwhelming, and could make a standalone-festival by themselves. The quantity and quality of events will make very happy any enthusiast, student or composer who is starting, being able to have first-hand valuable information from professionals in the sector … and on top of that, open and free!
Proximity. And last but not least, I will repeat what I have already said several times in articles of previous editions, since it is still one of the main points of the festival: the proximity of the composers, and the kindness of the members of the festival’s organization and volunteers, is one of the strengths of the Krakow FMF. There, both audiences, professionals and amateurs, are treated with affection and respect, without elitism or classism, having many opportunities to interact and exchange information during the many events that are held, which are participatory. A luxury!
The dates for the 12th edition of the Krakow Film Music Festival are already announced: from May 14 to 21, 2019, and while we’re waiting for the full program to be published, I am sure that we will have a great edition again next year, where we can once again celebrate film, video game and television music… like nowhere else in the world!
Article by Gorka Oteiza