I was fully aware that entering into a Project like the Michael Kamen Library would not be as straightforward as other jobs in music. This is nonetheless why I was drawn to it from the very beginning. As you can expect from an archival process, sometimes time seems to fast forward in the library, and 8 or 9 hours later, I realise that I have not eaten or left the room for a tea break, finding myself buried in scores and music sheets and trying to make sense of how to organise them. Other days, I might actually spend hours listening to Michael´s soundtracks, score in hand, trying to understand how what I see in the paper resembles anything to what I hear on the actual album. On other days, I spend hours surfing the web trying to puzzle together the origins of music that I have found and for which I cannot find a record. Can I find a word to describe my experience so far with the #MichaelKamenProject? Fascinating!
I have always been driven to music because despite of its apparent stillness (people often think we are bounded by the printed music on the paper), music is an art that is always ALIVE! Music changes from one person to another, music expresses itself in different forms, not one interpretation is the only interpretation, and at each corner music unfolds new and more fascinating nuances and ways to feel it. As a conductor, this journey of understanding music is fundamental to render a true and honest performance. After all, we are sort of the intermediary between composer and performers, the middle man who can transform a good performance into a phenomenal one, if capable to understand all aspects of music, from the composer’s intentions and emotions to the joy experienced by the performers when they truly feel part of a bigger picture while playing.
The possibility of spending long hours looking at manuscripts of Kamen’s music, his private notes and sketches, or simply speaking to his family about him, has unveiled a much better understanding of his persona, his musicianship and his passion for music (that which I believe all of us who love making music have). If I had not learnt, for example, that Michael was a true devote of Bach and Stravinsky, I would not have been able to understand so clearly some of his musical craft and style; I would not have picked up on some musical “winks” to the great composers, which are otherwise obvious. In summary, I would have missed an important part of Kamen’s musical jigsaw. If you are bored this Christmas, I challenge all Michael Kamen fans to attempt to discover some of these compositional “winks” in his music to the great composers, and share them with all of us.
But why is any of this so relevant and significant to me? Comprehending and studying a composer and his music in so much detail enhances my understanding of what a conductor must strive to accomplish and learn. Only by getting to the core of music will we be able to bring its true emotion and intention to the concert stage in a performance. This is, of course, only the beginning for me, and although Michael Kamen is only one of many thousands of great composers, I hope this process triggers a positive working process for all of my future studies and for the way I look at music. Many of these great composers are no longer with us, and hence the study of his notes, biographies, sketches and manuscripts becomes as fascinating as it is fundamental. With Kamen’s music, there is much still to be studied, and I can only hope to share some of these fascinating findings not only with film music lovers, but also with all musicians in general.
I am really excited for this 2015 and all of the progress with the #MichaelKamenProject. I am equally excited for all of the opportunities I will have to conduct, to play the French horn, to learn, to meet new musicians and work with them, and to continue to allow music to be always alive!
Have a wonderful 2015 filled with music!