SONAFILM 2022 – Festival Summary
A couple of weeks ago the 4th edition of the SONAFILM festival was held in the towns of Ondara, Dénia, and El Verger in the Marina Alta of Alicante, Spain (read more).
SoundTrackFest has been collaborating and attending this festival since its first edition in 2019 (read more). On this occasion, it was Gorka Oteiza who went there, and now brings us this special article about it.
The 4th edition of SONAFILM was held from August 17 to 21, 2022, focusing on this occasion on the figure of Maestro Ennio Morricone. This year the festival presented its most ambitious edition to date, going from offering a couple of days of festival, to extending it to 5 days, spread over the three localities organizers of the event.
In the program, the screening of the documentary ‘Ennio – The Maestro’, several concerts of film music in reduced format (Intimate Morricone, Forrest Gump Songs, Movie Horns), a talk, and the highlight of the festival, the symphonic concert in the Plaza de Toros de Ondara dedicated to Ennio Morricone, the result of 9 months of hard work (read news).
All this thanks to the commitment and effort of the three councilors of culture of the localities organizing the Festival, Raquel Mengual (Ondara), Raul García (Dénia), and Miguel Pou (El Verger), as well as the support of the sponsors Balearia and the Portal de la Marina Shopping Center, together with the dedication and tenacity of the Artistic Director of SONAFILM and Manager of the Universal Symphony Orchestra, Javier Gil.
But let’s go step by step, and let’s talk briefly about the 3 concerts we were able to attend.
FRIDAY 19/8/2022 - 22:30h - CONCERT ‘FORREST GUMP SONGS’
The arrival of SoundTrackFest to the festival coincided with the concert “Forrest Gump Songs”, held that day at night outdoors in the Parc Torrecremada of Denia. This concert, which was performed by the group Moanin’ Project, and that as in last year’s edition repeated the same band format with its 10 components, offered on this occasion a program of the best pop / rock of the 70s and 80s through a look at the movie ‘Forrest Gump’.
The concert included the most popular songs that appear in this movie, with iconic themes by groups and performers such as Elvis Presley (Hound Dog), Rooftop Singers (Walk Right In), Bob Dylan (Blowin’ in the Wind), The Beach Boys, The Doors (Break on Through), Simon and Garfunkel, The Birds, Harry Nilsson (Everybody is Talkin’), Lynyrd Skynyrd (Sweet Home Alabama), or Aretha Franklin (Respect) among others.
The catchy songs, the great performance of the band, the powerful male vocals and the great female lead vocal of the Moanin’ Project, together with the refreshing night and the large outdoor space, created a very entertaining free concert for about 400 people. More than 1 hour of good music, which a standing audience did not want to let it end, requesting several encores.
Moanin’ Project: Mariano Siccardi, Pep Oriola, Jose Luis Rodrigo, Samuel Brazalez Alcalá, Carlos Mañez Jorge, Emiliano Pérez, Francesc Oltra Faus, Elisabet Álvarez-Ossorio Sardón, Edgar Arias, Fran.
SATURDAY 20/8/2022 - 23:00h - ENNIO MORRICONE TRIBUTE CONCERT
And on Saturday, well into the night, to avoid the scorching heat that had prevailed throughout the day, it was time for the most important concert of the festival, the symphonic tribute concert to maestro Ennio Morricone, the figure on which the festival hinged.
de la Rectoría, to which were added the soprano Saray Garcia, the tenor Pascual Andreu, and the harmonica player Raquel Vega, who offered a tasting of over two hours from the delicious works that make up the vast repertoire of the genius of Morricone.
The program was as follows:
Before the concert began, the festival director Javier Gil and the mayor of Ondara José Ramiro, opened the evening on stage thanking the audience for their presence and support for the festival, and gave way to the first of the pieces, ‘Nella Fantasia’, an adaptation for soprano, tenor, and orchestra of the theme ‘Gabriel’s Oboe’ from ‘The Mission’, which served to open the ears of what was to follow.
The Universal Symphony Orchestra was more than up to the complex and yet delicate music of Ennio Morricone‘s genius, and it was very interesting to see its conductor, José Martínez Colomina, take charge of the orchestra with mastery and precision, giving very specific entrances to the various sections when appropriate, especially considering that he did not use scores to conduct, but did so completely from memory.
It was the conductor himself who made introductions to some of the pieces, especially before presenting the complex, cacophonous, and atypical suite of ‘The Thing’, thus preparing the audience for a suite that is not usually found in concerts of Morricone’s music, which are usually more focused on the melodic side of his work.
Then, the twinning of ‘Novecento’, the melancholy of ‘Chi Mai’, the sweetness and innocence of ‘Cinema Paradiso’, the tenderness and nostalgia of ‘La Califa’, or the triumphalism of good over evil in ‘The Untouchables’, which closed the first part, offered us a great musical journey on the way to the break.
During the intermission, the mayor of Ondara, José Ramiro, brought on stage representatives of the sponsors and partners of the festival, including SoundTrackFest, to present a gift in memory of the work done with this 4th edition. A wonderful initiative!
The second part started with a piece rarely heard in concert ‘Red Sonja’ where a powerful Cor de la Rectory added grandeur to the piece, to give way to the intense ‘Once Upon a Time in the West – The Man with the Harmonica’, which on this occasion could have been baptized as the ‘Woman with the Harmonica’, where the stupendous interpretation of the harmonica player Raquel Vega stood out.
Next, a block dedicated to western movies, in which Morricone managed to reinvent the musical canons of the genre, through masterpieces such as ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ or ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’, and where the powerful ‘Ecstasy of Gold’ shone with the great voice of soprano Saray Garcia.
The concert could not end without a Suite from ‘The Mission’, the highlight of Morricone‘s career and worthy of an Oscar – which unfortunately did not get -. The audience, standing and applauding intensely, managed to get not one but two encores from the orchestra, when it was already past 1 am.
First, a tribute to the recently deceased Greek composer Vangelis with an orchestral version of ‘Chariots of Fire’, and then, a new dose of adrenaline with ‘The Untouchables’ to end the evening in style. Great concert!
I would like to highlight the complexity of preparing the sound design of a symphonic concert of these characteristics, where in addition to the symphony orchestra a choir is added to the equation, and all this outdoors, in a bullring, with the difficulty of controlling the acoustic characteristics of the venue, in addition to the constant gusts of wind that come through the microphones, making the work of the sound technicians a complete “tour de forcé” in real time. Great job!
SUNDAY 21/8/2022 - 20:00h - CONCERT ‘MOVIE HORNS’
This fourth edition of SONAFILM – Marina Alta Film Music Festival closed on Sunday 21 in the Auditorium of the Casa de Cultura of El Verger with the recital “Movie Horns” performed by the impressive ensemble formed by 15 professional horns “Mira quina Trompa”. An unusual and highly anticipated concert.
Commanded by the Horn soloist of the Universal Symphony Orchestra, Vicent Berbegal Coloma, this innovative chamber group formed by one of the main and most used instruments in film music, as well as one of the most chromatic and powerful, offered a varied repertoire of soundtracks created for the seventh art.
The program was as follows:
A concert of almost an hour and twenty minutes, very good and interesting, as well as complex, due to the physical demands of the brass instrument itself. Among the many themes that were played, it is worth mentioning the interpretations of Olympic Fanfare and Raiders March in the John Williams suite, which were extraordinarily faithful to the originals, or the wonderful “Old West Medley” that managed to transmit all its strength and energy, despite not having the rest of the sections of the orchestra. A different and innovative concert, which offered a great finishing touch to a great edition of SONAFILM.
While last year it was the town of Denia that joined the festival, this time, it was the town of El Verger that was added to the project, offering 2 of the 5 musical events of the festival in its house of culture, and thus making clear the growth and projection that is getting the festival in the region it represents: the Marina Alta of Alicante, Spain.
When talking about SONAFILM, it should be noted that we are facing a humble festival, where with a budget where other festivals plan a single concert, manages to offer several days of activities, which are enjoyed outdoors by the entire population free of charge (except for the symphonic concert in which there are more than 100 artists on stage between orchestra and choir).
This budget limitation does not detract from the fact that by making a virtue out of a difficulty, the available resources are squeezed to the maximum, and simple but excellent events are offered: the Intimate Morricone concert with piano and clarinet, the rock concert with songs from the movie Forrest Gump, or the Movie Horns concert with fifteen horns, are a clear example of this.
The highlight of the festival is still the symphonic concert held in the Plaza de Toros de Ondara, where about 1.300 people vibrated with a tribute to the figure of the genius of film music Ennio Morricone. A concert where the Universal Symphony Orchestra conducted by José Martínez Colomina and the with the Cor de la Rectoría choir, offered a wonderful symphonic and choral review of the extensive filmography of the Roman maestro.
You do not have to be very observant to see that the festival is fully consolidated and in continuous growth, and it is a matter of time that it will continue adding locations in the Marina Alta; localities that should not hesitate to join this robust and interesting cultural project, which each year gains more followers.
SONAFILM is the only festival dedicated to film music organized jointly by the cultural departments of a group of neighboring towns, but this project would not be possible without the tireless and invaluable figure of Javier Gil Pérez, manager of the Universal Symphony Orchestra and Artistic Director of the festival. Just as an orchestra needs a conductor to obtain the best possible performance, the organizing localities count on Javier Gil‘s “baton” to bring SONAFILM to a successful conclusion. Four great editions are good proof of this.
SONAFILM has shown us once again this year that, despite limited resources, with will, inventiveness, and passion, very interesting things can be done. But for this to happen, the political/cultural support of the towns involved is absolutely necessary. That is why we hope that the region knows how to value the importance of this project, and is aware of the jewel they have in their hands, which has already put the Marina Alta on the map of Spanish festivals, and why not, also a little bit on the European circuit. The most complicated work has already been done during the first 4 editions, and now it is just a matter of taking advantage of the opportunity to continue adding and growing.
SoundTrackFest will be there, to continue supporting and collaborating with the festival one more year, and also to tell you again what’s happening, in the first person, from the Marina Alta. And we are sure that we will not be the only ones: more and more people will dedicate a place in their summer vacations to SONAFILM. The countdown has begun, see you in the summer of 2023, in the 5th edition of SONAFILM!
Article and pictures by Gorka Oteiza