Monthly Archives: August 2011

Two questions

Better put, two question groups.

Question Group the first relates to this video:

You guys, does anyone else think it’s weird that Valery Gergiev is dressed like a trucker in the Leningrad Denny’s (Денниз) at 2:00 am?  I mean, I know that the whole unkempt look is like, his thing or whatever, but come on, baseball cap?  Really?  And doesn’t it just make his already eccentric Fluttering Butterfly conducting moves look even more bizarre?

Meanwhile, Gautier Capuçon looks like a contestant in a River Phoenix/Johnny Depp lovechild lookalike contest.  It’s all about contrast, people.

Question Group the second is all about why won’t La Piel Que Habito just open already, in this country, in my city, NOW?

Pedro Almodóvar is the reigning king of the cinema.  I mean, is anybody seriously going to dispute that?  There are other great directors out there, but Almodóvar consistently writes, directs, and releases a new film almost every other year that maintains or raises his already incredibly high standards.  Each one explores similar themes, re-intermingled and re-imagined, so that they all have that Almodóvar stamp and are all so completely different.

And yet, we have to wait months and months after the European premier of each new film to see it in the U.S.  Not only is this the best art that we have available to us IN THE WORLD, but this movie has Antonio freaking Banderas in it.  Who wouldn’t like that?

There were all these rumors that La Piel was going to be different, that they were going to release the movie all over the world at the same time, something about the Spanish government not enforcing international copyright law and blah blah blah just give the movie, alright??

So now the movie just opened in Britain, strangely enough before the Sept. 2 opening in Spain (um, what?).  And then it’s only being released in New York/LA on October 14 or something?  Ugh!  Just bequeath it unto the world, Pedro!  We will love you for it heartily.

In the meanwhile, you can watch more, and listen extensively.  A little Alberto Iglesias goes a long way to calming down my frazzled nerves, y’all.


My friend Will made an excellent film called Mulligan, set for release in 2012.  He kindly asked me to write the score and his producers kindly allowed me to post some of the music I wrote here.

Mulligan centers around an emotionally stunted 30-year-old loser, John, who can”t get past the fraught relationship he had with his father (now deceased).  He channels his emotions into a “pictorial epic” called Golfing with Apollo – a comic book in which the god Apollo serves as his own heroic alter ego.

Here”s the opening title sequence in which the main character feverishly draws, paints, writes and splatters his ideas onto the page.  There”s some really brilliant animation that goes along with this sequence:

Here”s the “Nostalgia” theme:

And here”s a later comic book scene that deals with reconciliation (hence the reappearance of the Nostalgia music):

There’s a mystery at the center of the plot, as John seeks to uncover the money his father secretly buried where only he (John) could find it, thus proving that he (the father) did love him (John) after all.  I”ll spare you the various “Spooky” cues as they go hunting for the loot and run into a variety of shady characters, but I will include the director”s favorite music, a cue called “Mystery”:

And here’s the composer”s favorite, the “Nostalgia Tarantella”, a delightful romp based on the Nostalgia theme:

More reasons to love Hector Berlioz

Because he composed his Roméo et Juliette and called it a “dramatic legend”, since no genre was big enough for him, and because in the section depicting the Ball at the Capulets, he begins with a melody expressing Roméo’s grief, which sounds like this:

and follows it with a theme representing the masq’d ball itself, which sounds like this:

and then he combines the two themes together (which sounds like this:)

Those are all great reasons to love Hector Berlioz, but the best reason is that, at the spot in the score where he overlays the two themes, he actually wrote these very words and had them typeset and printed in the published score

so that noone would miss this masterful stroke of compositional prowess and fail to recognize his genius.  Forget the fact that the art of counterpoint was well over 700 years old, and that people like Bach and Tallis had composed far more complex contrapuntal textures simply for the Grace of God — no, M. Berlioz did what every other composer wishes he had the cojones to do, and let you know exactly how good he was, in three different languages.

Bravo, Hector.

Travel diary, pt. 2

I’m writing from a place called Matamoros, PA, because my car just broke down in nearby Port Jervis, NY.  If I were to walk a mile away from my hotel room (and trust me, I am not) I would come to the exact place where Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York share a border.  I can’t vouch for the details, but one intuits very quickly in the Matamoros region that one of these three states does allow fireworks while the other two do not, because there are some serious firework emporia up in this neck of the woods.  There are also approximately five hundred ‘cigaret shoppers’ here, so if anybody needs like 20 cases of Camel Lights, just send me a text.

I’m coming from Hancock, ME and heading to Cincinnati, OH.  I just spent another fruitful 6-week stint at the Pierre Monteux School for Conductorz & Orchestra Musicianz playing the viola, conducting the orchestra, running seminars, swimming in lakes, eating lobster, etc.  I got to premiere a new piece, a narrated viola concerto about Cinderella with my super cool friends Maija and Matt (violist and narrator, respectively).  We played to a sold-out house bethrong’d with little kids who were like SO into it.  Then I wrote the score for my friend Will‘s new movie.  It was a crazy time.

[I should mention that the above cover page was drawn by my super cool and incredibly talented friend Anna who, by no coincidence, happens to be with me in Matamoros, PA and is being a total trooper about this whole car issue.]

One of the perks of my position at the PMS is that I get a charming little house in the cutest village in Maine all to myself.  The house was built over a hundred years ago by a ship’s captain, but the family that still owns it descends from one Frank Olmstead, who apparently ran the advertising department for Kellogg’s cereals in the 1930’s and ’40’s or something like that.  I don’t know exactly what he did, but there’s a copy of David Ogilvy’s Ogilvy on Advertising floating around the house, which I’ve now read no less than four times, and which I must recommend to everybody.

And then there’s the vintage 1930’s and 40’s adds hanging on the walls around the house.  Let’s just say, I think the buying public had a very different response to visual stimuli 70 some years ago.  For example, this ad, which hangs just above my summer sink, is in fact TERRIFYING:

These little girls are at least 3,000 times more frightening than the Children of the Corn and the twin girls from The Shining combined.  I would never attempt to sell a breakfast cereal – or, in fact, any consumer product – with their images.  Here is the headline on the top of the ad:

which I can only presume replaced the original headline, “All in Favor, Summon Your Inner Daemonry!”  I mean, look at this little girl – LOOK AT THIS GIRL:

I have now spent a sum total of four and one half months of my life waking up every morning and having this little girl stare me in the face as I prepare my morning repast.  No wonder I switched to toast for breakfast.