Sitting in the Frankfurt Airport- I am still reeling from what turned out to be one of the most surprising, unanticipated, thrilling, stressful, but absolutely satisfying musical experiences I’ve experienced in a long time!
There are those moments in life that make you realize how small, but wonderfully cosmic the world can be. I did three things as a child. Watch movies, sing, and listen to A LOT of film music. Not all of my mass collection was vocalists; actually a large part of my 300 plus CDs (of course housed in a ludicrously large binder that eventually ended up weight more than half my body weight) was all instrumental. In particular, film music was often what you’d find me humming in the house, or doing my homework to. I’d have my portable cd player with me all the time, turn it on as loud as I could, slap on those clunky headphones and bathe myself in the music.
I had Howard Shore, Patrick Doyle, James Horner, John Williams, Ennio Morricone, Michael Kamen, all the big-name composers sitting side by side. But two albums that I would often play over and over and over again were Gladiator and Spirit Stallion of the Cimarron. Both composed by Hans Zimmer, his synthesized, larger than life brass, and unique pulsation of percussion instruments had a way of entrancing me, and letting me just appreciate the beauty that music composition can be.
So last week, one of my colleagues from my LOTR family- conductor and producer Justin Freer called me. I had known that he was conducting and producing Gladiator Live, but did not expect to hear that Lisa Gerrard was last minute unable to sing in Krakow Poland due to health circumstances. With less than a week to go until show time, I was absolutely ECSTATIC to have the opportunity to step in Lisa’s shoes, and do my best to fill in for what is one of my favorite film scores ever! Having sung in Krakow with the Film Music Festival for all of the LOTR films, I knew how beautiful the production team, city, and entire FMF family was. Not to mention collaborating with my partner in crime Ludwig Wicki and teaming up with Paul Bevan on sound and two new members of the Gladiator team Jay Ellis and Mike Andreas (who just happens to live so close to our home in North Carolina! Small world!)
In addition to mastering the music, I was worried that everyone in the production, as well as the city of Krakow, would be upset about me coming in place of Lisa. But it was so overwhelmingly the contrary. The fans of Krakow, the chorus, musicians, and production team made me feel so welcomed and were all so gracious of my presence and addition to the production.
Everyone was absolutely professional, and even though I was stressed trying to experiment and try to use my voice to re-create a taste of what Lisa does (which is no small task) I loved being able to let loose in this music. The mix of Celtic, Baroque, African, and other ornamental elements that are apart of this vocal score are so much fun to sing! The special instruments, orchestra, and synthesizers wonderfully combine just as they did when I was that little girl sitting on my bed with those silly headphones! Except this time I was sitting in the middle of the LIVE orchestra, and meeting the real Hans Zimmer! This festival, even during my time with the LOTR was always so much fun to be apart of because you were surrounded by other people whom just love film music. I felt so humbled meeting Patrick Doyle, Dario Marianelli, and all the attending film music figures that continue to make this festival a huge success! I may be a little bit of a geek, but it brought me back to my first time singing for Howard Shore and realizing that I was given the opportunity to use my voice to bring to life another composer and musician’s work: interpretation of someone’s musical language via my own artistic perspective.
I thank Maestro Justin Freer, even if it is just one time I get to sing in this particular live to projection project. It will be one that I will never forget, and I wish Lisa a speedy recovery! Whether it is a journey through Middle Earth, or discovering one’s inner Strength and Honor- film music continues to be apart of my life and I feel so blessed to be lending my voice to these wonderful pieces of music.
I next go to Switzerland in October to do a recording of Ennio Morricone music with 21st Century Orchestra and I will be sure to post some updates!! Until then everyone………