Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ludwig Wicki DRS1 Transcript/Translation

I'm in the middle of two awfully busy weeks, but thanks to you guys, I've had plenty to post! This transcript/translation comes from Sabsi, who deserves out gratitude.

By the way, yesterday's good news all came to pass just as it should have. Still waiting on permission to make an announcement -- as is the other party involved. Things are really going to get cooking next week. From one good day comes several rewarding months! You'll see...

Enjoy the fruit of Sabsi's labors:

Introduction (starting at 0:19):

It’s been ten years since Lucerne-based conductor Ludwig Wicki founded the 21st CSO, an orchestra that’s performing mainly [she says exclusively, but that’s not correct] film music. The anniversary-concert at the KKL yesterday evening was attended by two particularly great film composers: The creator of the music of the „Winnetou“-movies, Martin Böttcher, and Canadian composer Howard Shore, who wrote the „Lord of the Rings“-scores, composed a fanfare for the 10th anniversary of the Lucerne-based orchestra and is delighted how Ludwig and his orchestra perform his “Lord of the Rings”-scores live to projection. The interview with 48-year-old Ludwig Wicki was recorded at a café in Lucerne right before the concert. The first thing we were talking about was how classical musicians were contemptuous of his attraction to film music:

LW: When I was studying at the University, I didn’t dare to tell anyone that I’d like to do film music. It started when I was 15 years old, I had a gramophone record of the music for “Winnetou” and I wrote the notes down – and I just loved Morricone, but I also loved Verdi and classical music. And I noticed at the university that, whenever one started to talk about film music, it was regarded as being just tacky light music, so I suppressed this passion. But ten years ago I met the right musicians, Markus Wieser and Christian Müller, and they helped me to get the orchestra going. We realised that there were actually many musicians who weren’t disdainful toward film music and the audience, as we can see, agrees.

Q: So, you gave the musicians a chance to act out their suppressed passion.
LW: (laughs) Yeah, exactly! It’s a lot about emotion and that’s really great...

Q: Yeah, and one can’t imagine the Winnetou-movies – the scenes in which they are riding towards the sunset for instance – without music. That just wouldn’t work.
LW: No, it wouldn’t. And it was great to see the smile on people’s faces when we were rehearsing that piece. Somehow, they all reacted to this music in particular. So, it’s great to get the chance to perform it yourself. We all heard the music on our gramophone records, but getting the chance to actually play it yourself wasn’t possible in the past.

Q: Now, you are also performing a particularly epic work, Lord of the Rings, three movies, each runs for about two and a half, three hours. Howard Shore, the Canadian composer who wrote scores for about 70 movies like Silence of the Lambs, Aviator and Se7en and won three Academy Awards – how did you come into contact with him?
LW: Of course I knew his work and I knew Lord of the Rings, but I wasn’t a huge fan of theses movies. I really enjoyed the score though. A percussionist of the orchestra gave the [Creating the Lord of the Rings-]Symphony-DVD to me and so I called America till I found the right management. Pirmin Zängerle and myself lined up a concert for his 60th birthday “Howard Shore In Concert/The Music of Howard Shore” and invited him. He accepted the invitation and I think he really liked how we performed his music, so we stayed in touch and played the Symphony as well. That’s how the whole idea about performing the Lord of the Rings score live to picture started.

Q: The movie runs for about three hours, you have to perform for three hours in synch to the picture and you played in New York at Radio City Hall in front of 10.000 people. How does that work technically? You have two sound tracks one above the other, they have to be in synch perfectly. How do you do that?
LW: For Return of the King[??, I think he means FotR], we had an orchestra of 90 people, about 100 members of the choir, 50 boys, soloists,... so there were more than 200 people on stage. It’s really important to react fast, for you can’t be as flexible as in a normal concert. I get some help in doing this from a program created for modern complex Hollywood-movies, Auricle. There’s a screen on the conductor’s stand which doesn’t just show the movie but also particular signs that show me what to do. For example, Fellowship is divided into 27 pieces, a green stripe tells me when a new piece starts. Other stripes and punches also show me tempo changes and provide information about the beat. It’s difficult to play exact to the second with 250 people on stage, so I have to pre-estimate the musicians’ reaction to be in synch with the movie. I always have to have one eye on the screen, on the sheet music and the musicians and coordinate everything, so that’s a real challenge.

Q: You said that you loved the music, but weren’t a huge fan of the movie. Has that changed by now?
LW: Yes, absolutely! It was Howard’s idea that did it. He wanted the music to come to the fore... Incidentally, an Italian TV channel aired the Lord of the Rings yesterday and my wife was watching it and I heard it and thought: ‘Hmm... I know that...’ and it was fun to watch the Lord of the Rings in Italian, but really beautiful musical cues with choir just don’t work as good as they could: They edited the music, reduced and cut it and the sound effects are too dominant. For the live performance, they [the sound effects] were reduced, so the music is more like a symphony, which makes the movie friendlier somehow. And it’s fun that at every concert people are laughing at certain scenes, you wouldn’t expect so much humour in these movies, but there is. So, I’ve seen them quite often now and I have to say, I really enjoy them by now.

Announcer: That was Ludwig Wicki, conductor and founder of the 21st CSO, that’s celebrating its 10th anniversary. Canadian composer Howard Shore congratulated his way and composed a Fanfare for the orchestra, which sounded like this at its world premiere at the KKL yesterday:
21st Century Orchestra Fanfare, the anniversary present to the orchestra from Canadian composer Howard Shore.

[Note: I guess neither Winnetou nor Martin Böttcher ring a bell.
- The Winnetou movies are a couple of German movies from the sixties based on Karl May’s novels about the friendship between a Native American (Winnetou) and a white man. They are still quite popular over here and Austrian television stations air them at least once a year.
- Martin Böttcher wrote the score for the Winnetou movies and a couple of German crime series’, so he’s pretty famous here in Austria/Germany/Switzerland.]
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