There I was, in London, studying a Master in Music Performance at the Royal College of Music. There I was, creating a film orchestra to enjoy the music that has given me the biggest amount of goose bumps in my life. With loads of enthusiasm, desire to work and to enjoy this music, I asked my colleagues at the college to enumerate their top 5 favourite film scores of all times. To my surprise, after analysing all of the results, amongst all of the possible candidates, 2 of those 5 had been composed by the same composer, the legendary Michael Kamen. The name sounded familiar, I had of course heard it before. My memory was transported to my first years as a teenager, more or less around 2002-2003. Back then, for more than a year, I completely felt in love with 4 minutes of music, which I listened over and over again until saturation, until falling asleep or running out of battery on my massive portable CD player. I am of course talking about the main titles to Band of Brothers. Back then, the name of Michael Kamen did not sound terribly familiar, I had only heard of film composers such as Horner, Goldsmith, Silvestri, Williams and Hans Zimmer. How much good music I was missing out on! Can anyone guess which one was the other soundtrack of Michael in that top 5 list? Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.
With much energy, and the same amount of ignorance, I went to the library of the RCM to speak to the orchestral librarian and ask her if she could give us a hand retrieving some of these scores we wanted to perform. And with Robin Hood and Band of Brothers this story took a much unexpected turn. After many emails, long nights in front of the computer, and a lot of enthusiasm for this project and the music that I was aiming to find, I found myself in Michael Kamen´s house. There I was having coffee with Sandra Kamen, the same Sandra that Michael adored so much, the one to whom he wrote “Beside You” (later used in What Dreams May Come), and which we have also performed in our Film Orchestra. There I was, next to the piano of a music legend (and I say music, not simply film music), as nervous as I was excited, with the same feeling everyone has when they know they are in the same place where, once upon a time, a great man lived. Incredible!
My admiration for Michael Kamen extends beyond a temporary interest, and I feel very fortunate of having being able to organise the only tribute concert in the world to commemorate the tenth anniversary of his death; next to his family, his friends, and everyone who loves his music. Everyone there was a testimony alive of how big this man was! In that concert, his grandson, Jasper, who he never met, sat nicely and quietly in the audience, admiring his grandfather in the big screen of the concert hall. I hear at some point he asked: is that man grandpa? I wished someone had answered: “son, no matter how important you think he might have been, he will always be more proud of you; of Sandra, of Sasha and of Zoe!. We always miss the great people the most, with sadness because they are gone but happy because we knew them. I had never had the honour of meeting Maestro Kamen. The closest I have been to him has been conducting his music with his baton, feeling I was connected to him and his music through one of the most powerful sources: music! If I can make justice to the great music he created, then a part of him will always remain fresh in our memories. Music has a very powerful way to make us reflect in our past and connect deep inside us.
With Kamen´s music I experience the feeling first hand. Every time I conduct Band of Brothers it takes me back quite a few years, to that time when I did not know that I would become a professional musician, but I knew there was something special about music!