Last Saturday, August 31, the 1st edition of the ‘SONAFILM – Festival de Música de Cine de Ondara / Ondara Film Music Festival’ was held, with a film music concert dedicated to the work of John Williams and Hans Zimmer, that we previously wrote about (read news-1 and news-2).
The concert was performed by the Universal Symphony Orchestra conducted by José Martínez Colomina, and our collaborator Tony Alicante Spain attended it and has written this summary article-
On August 31st, 2019, the 1st edition of SONAFILM took place in a town in the north of the province of Alicante (Spain), in Ondara, with the concert that the Universal Symphony Orchestra offered, performing several of the best-known pieces of 2 of the most famous composers today in the world of film music: John Williams and Hans Zimmer. Tickets started from 15 €, a good price for the show offered, and part of the proceeds went to the AECC (Spanish Association against cancer).
Before the concert, I was able to speak with Javier Gil Pérez, manager and creator of the Universal Symphony Orchestra, who is also a musician in the orchestra when he picks up the clarinet, and with José Martínez Colomina, the conductor, who told me about the orchestra’s trajectory.
Javier Gil told me that he created the orchestra in 2014, and that he had previously been a few years in a chamber orchestra in Andalusia, and when he had the opportunity, he wanted to create and manage his own orchestra. Additionally, he teaches clarinet in various schools. When he talks about the Universal Symphony Orchestra, he says: “The beginnings were difficult, but I do it, and I have to do everything. I remember a few years ago, soon after we started, that a concert came out in the Julio Iglesias auditorium in Benidorm and I got to wrap-up my father’s truck and go around the city with a megaphone to publicize the event… Then we grew up and moved on. In 2016 we were hired to perform in Spain the concert ‘The Legend of Zelda – Symphony of the Goddess’ and since then I try to make the orchestra move forward with new events and projects.” He tells us that he feels special fetishism with Hans Zimmer and that he even went to London to see a concert of his tour. Additionally, and as a curiosity, he confesses that every week he tries to listen to some new film music album, and that lately, he has been listening to the OST of Jerry Goldsmith’s ‘The 13th Warrior’.
José Martínez Colomina is the conductor of the Universal Symphony Orchestra. He is a professor at the music conservatory in Valencia, where he works as a trumpet teacher, and is also immersed in other projects such as the Santa Cecilia de Foios Band and the Orchestra of the Primitive Setabense de Xàtiva. He tells us that the Universal Symphony Orchestra has 65 musicians in symphonic concerts, but also performs concerts with a smaller chamber cast, with 32 musicians, where it retains all the string instrumentation, 2 percussionists, and 1 piano. Colomina tells us that “All the musicians of our orchestra are professionals, with their musical conservatory career already concluded.”
Both Javier Gil and José M. Colomina told me that at the time of organizing the concert commissioned by the Ondara City Council, they decided that they would only perform music from 2 film composers: John Williams and Hans Zimmer, to do it as a “face to face of the composition” with their two different styles and careers. In this sense, they want to add that they were considering several options, but that they did not want a “medley of well-known themes of films”. They also considered the possibility of other illustrious names of film music such as James Horner or Ennio Morricone.
Obviously if you are soundtrack fan, their names do not need presentations, but as I hope that not all readers are, I will tell you that both John Williams and Hans Zimmer are 2 of the most acclaimed film music composers of all time, although their way of working and their careers are totally different.
While the New Yorker John Williams comes from an earlier generation (he has been in film music since the late 60s / early 70s), his music is (usually) purely orchestral, has classical training, and works mainly alone. He started as a jazz pianist, and is known to the general public for being Steven Spielberg’s favorite composer, having composed for all his films except for 3, as well as for emblematic sagas (Star Wars, Superman, Harry Potter, etc…).
The other honored composer, the German Hans Zimmer, has a mostly self-taught training and comes from the world of synthesizers, having collaborated in the 80s in various projects with synth-pop bands. It is known the anecdote that he has appeared as a session musician in the first video clip that the MTV broadcast (The Buggles – Video killed the radio star)… Even more, I even remember reading an interview with Spanish musician Nacho Cano where he talked about Hans Zimmer (who became an accompanying musician in one of the concerts of the famous group from Madrid – MECANO). Zimmer is nowadays known as a great film music composer, but at that time (when he collaborated on the MECANO album, ‘Ya Viene el Sol’ in 1984) he was a young man who was looking for projects in London with his Fairlight CMI synthesizer, widely used in his first soundtracks. He started in this world of cinema as an assistant to British composer Stanley Myers.
Later and given his ambition as an entrepreneur, he came to have his own company (Media Ventures) that he founded with his former partner and childhood friend Jay Rifkin. Later they ended up fighting, and Hans Zimmer founded “Remote Control Productions”, a leading company sought by many producers of Hollywood movies, television series, and video games, to hire their composition services. Remote Controls has been the school for countless composers of great reputation with many soundtracks behind them, such as… Steve Jablonsky (Transformers), Ramin Djawadi (Game of Thrones), John Powell, Harry Gregson-Williams, Tom “Junkie XL” Holkenborg, Lorne Balfe, and a long etcetera.
After these introductions, let’s talk about the concert, the central event of the 1st edition of SONAFILM, which was held in the bullring of Ondara, and that began quite late, around 23h (probably not to coincide with other events in the town, football, etc…).
Despite this, they told me, and I could see it myself, that they achieved almost a full house with about 2000 attendees, which has much merit in a town that does not reach 7,000 inhabitants. It should be mentioned, however, that Ondara is very close to larger touristic coastal towns such as Denia or Javea, which also have a large foreign population, so the public that we could find there was very heterogeneous, both in ages and in nationalities.
The program was the following:
As you can see, the program was based on alternating the different main themes or suites from the most emblematic works of each composer.
It should be noted that the concert had 2 additional tracks at the end, two encores, where the orchestra played with emphasis, as a party finale.
The first was the piece ‘Chevaliers de Sangreal – Hans Zimmer’ accompanied by a large children’s choir from the CODA School of Music from the neighboring town of Gata de Gorgos.
And finally ‘The Imperial March – Star Wars – John Williams’, for which several people dressed as characters from the saga appeared on stage, including of course Darth Vader, and who were accompanied by a beautiful show with “lightsabers” on the violins.
A good experience, both for me and for the people gathered there, which makes clear that it is good for this kind of events to spread more and more.
Article by Tony Alicante Spain
Photos by Rafa Sulbarán