The Szczecin Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, in collaboration with conductor Torodd Wigum and the James Horner Film Music Association, is thrilled to announce a James Horner concert unlike any you’ve seen before.
On May 29th 2020, James Horner´s virtually unknown concert works Spectral Shimmers and A Forest Passage will finally see the light of day, again. 42 and 20 years respectively, after those initial performances so long ago, the Szczecin Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra in Szczecin, Poland will give fans the chance of discovering these uncharted corners of Horner´s magical world of music.
The concert will be conducted by Norwegian conductor Torodd Wigum. A renowned and prolific conductor in Norway, he was chosen to be James Horner’s conducting partner in Stavanger, Norway for the Norwegian premiere of Pas De Deux in May 2015. Horner conducted suites from Braveheart, Titanic and Wolf Totem, while Wigum led the orchestra through the double concerto and the rest of the program. From the very first meeting they got along wonderfully, and you could easily get the impression that they had worked together for years, judging by how in tune they were with each other’s input and suggestions. After the stunning concert, Wigum found a thank you note from Horner on his desk. The final line read “I hope we get a chance to work together again”.
Sadly, James Horner passed away only six weeks later.
“The three days in Stavanger went by in what seemed like a heartbeat. Three days that were full of music-making, joy, good food, rehearsals, impressions, new friendships and even an adrenaline thrill of a boat-trip! I went home with memories of an amazing concert and the unforgettable experience of a warm meeting with a true artist.
I was certain we would meet again and that I would have the opportunity to conduct his music with him in the future. I expected our next meeting would take place in Los Angeles. But before I was able to think about looking at travel arrangements, with the magical feeling from Stavanger still there, we all got the shocking news.
Stavanger was our first meeting. And now it was also definitely to be the only one…”
Torodd Wigum reminisces from the summer of 2015.
In March 2018, James Horner Film Music was invited to visit Sara and Emily Horner in Calabasas, outside Los Angeles. In a very brief moment, the subject of James’ concert works from earlier years came up. When asked if she thought they would be performed again someday, Sara replied that she wasn’t expecting that they would.
Kim Spildrejorde was one of the three JHFM visitors, along with managing editor and founder Jean-Baptiste Martin and editor Tom Hudson. The remark about the concert works and their uncertain future stuck with him, and the next day he told Jean-Baptiste of his idea of a James Horner concert which would feature Spectral Shimmers and A Forest Passage as centerpieces of the program. Jean-Baptiste liked the idea and encouraged Kim to pursue it further, and that he could do so with the full support and confidence of both himself and the James Horner Film Music team.
Shortly after returning to Norway, Kim met Torodd Wigum in Oslo. They had kept in touch after meeting in Stavanger and would meet and catch up from time to time if Torodd visited Oslo. Kim told Torodd of his meeting with Sara and Emily, and of the tour of James´ studio. Next, he told Wigum of the two concert pieces.
In the February 4 1979 Boston Sunday Globe, Spectral Shimmers was once described as 'the least pretentious' piece of the 1978 program it was part of, and showed how the young James wanted to 'write a piece that hasn't been written before but who can't get the unlikeliest batch of things out of his head'. The staff writer Richard Dyer also went on to say that Horner managed to connect in one sentence music from Pendrecki, and his own Roger Corman scores.
A Forest Passage was originally commissioned for the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area's 25th Anniversary concert, and almost seemed to serve as a culmination of Horner's career thus far, with nods to past music such as Journey of Natty Gann and a nod to his immediate future with a motif from The Perfect Storm.
“When Kim told me about James' “unknown” concert works, I realized that this is it! Almost like a calling, it was immediately clear to me that this is how I would pay tribute to the great Master and honour the fantastic collaboration and unforgettable days with him in Stavanger: Present and perform these concert works, these “hidden treasures” and make sure they will live on along with the rest of James’ musical legacy”, explains Torodd Wigum.
While they would never meet again, in spirit Torodd Wigum and James Horner would indeed have their chance of working together again.
Shortly after their first meeting, the core team was expanded with the addition of film composer, violinist and concertmaster of the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra, Johannes Leonard Rusten. A close friend of Torodd Wigum, he is also a lifelong fan of James Horner´s music, and he even credits Horner for inspiring him to become a musician! His knowledge of Horner´s body of work, combined with his skills and talents as a composer and musician made him an obvious addition to the team and a vital resource in nurturing these concert works back to life.
Additionally the James Horner Film Music web site team, and in particular Jean-Baptiste Martin and Nick Martin, have also contributed significantly and helped with things as varied as opinions on programming to chasing down contact information to key stakeholders. Jean-Baptiste pulled double-duty as he was and remains actively writing our collaborative biography of James. Nick has provided scans of original sketches for some key pieces to be performed and served as a sounding board to bounce conceptual ideas off of. Throughout the 18 months this project has been underway, it has always been obvious that every single person involved has contributed something of significance, and something without which it would never have been possible to get this far.
The concert core team of Kim, Torodd and Johannes now split responsibilities between them, for the work ahead. Kim as the overall project manager, focusing on concept and program development, keeping an overview and otherwise being available to assist with whatever is needed at any given time. Torodd is the obvious musical and artistic director. Apart from the considerable responsibility of molding and shaping an artistic performance that will resonate with audiences, he also is responsible for the majority of the work related to contacting and pitching the concept to orchestras. Johannes’ main responsibilities have been concept – and program development and most importantly: serving as our very own arranger, making sure the pieces on the program will be tailored to fit the orchestra, all the while having a religious reverence for Horner´s original sketches, always aiming to not dilute his artistic voice.
With the team assembled, the idea still needed to be pitched to Sara Horner. Without her approval, the entire project would be stillborn. An email was sent, containing a rough outline of what the concept was.
Her response came swiftly: “Yes, I’ll help out!”. This was quickly followed by scans of the conductor’s scores for Spectral Shimmers and A Forest Passage. From that point on, Sara’s support has been nothing short of spectacular. In September 2018, Torodd and Kim met with Sara Horner at James’ old apartment in London, to discuss the concert program and to meet face to face rather than only communicate electronically. During the better part of two hours, they discussed what kind of pieces would best represent James,what pieces or scores were most persona etc? Which orchestration techniques should be highlighted?
Just under a month later Kim returned to London to meet with recording engineer and James Horner’s right-hand man for nearly 20 years, Simon Rhodes. Once more the goal was to get as much input and advice from someone who knew the composer both as a person and from working with him, which in turn would influence the content and structure of the concert. One cup of coffee turned into two while sitting in the control room of Studio One at Abbey Road Studios. Rhodes would mention scores that Horner considered his favorites, give advice to cues which might, or might not be well suited for concert performances. All in all the support from the people who knew and worked with James Horner has been invaluable.
Just before taking off from London after the final visit, Kim received an email from Sara where she expressed her appreciation and gratitude for the work done so far, ending the email with the best of endorsements: “This is all very “James”!”´
In parallel, Torodd was reaching out to colleagues and friends in the music business, pitching the idea, collecting feedback and hopefully at some point grab the interest of an orchestra that would be willing to have a go at doing the concert.
Late in 2018, fellow Norwegian conductor, Rune Bergmann was in talks with Torodd about having him conduct a concert in Szczecin, Poland, where Bergmann serves as Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Szczecin Philharmonic Orchestra. When it was time to discuss the concept or theme for the concert, Torodd gave Szczecin several options, making sure that the Horner concert concept was one of them. The response: “Let’s do the James Horner-concert!”
Torodd visited Szczecin earlier this year and he was pleased to see there was genuine excitement from members of the orchestra and administration about the concert. The orchestra’s home is the beautiful Szczecin Philharmonic Hall, completed in 2014, which has garnered international praise for its beautiful architecture.
We at the James Horner Film Music Association are immensely proud to be a part of this creative endeavor, and together with Torodd Wigum, the Szczecin Philharmonic and of course the Horner Estate, we are truly honored and privileged to pay tribute to a man who has enriched our lives with his artistry.
Sara Horner shares these thoughts with us:
I am deeply indebted to the James Horner Film Music Society and Torodd Wigum for their commitment to the music of my late husband, James Horner. James had a profound affinity for the natural world, for science, and the beautiful crystalline structures of minerals. He would be deeply touched that these works, “A Forest Passage” and “Spectral Shimmers” are being shared at this time with so much of the earth’s natural wonders and beauty in such a flux of change. This music, which pays homage to the beauty and depth of life, is a reminder of all that we have lost and a hope for all that will yet be born.
Emily is really touched that all of you are so committed to her father’s work. She shared a unique world with him and mourns his absence and the mysterious magical reality he created in life. His music embodies these qualities and is all that she has left of such an extraordinary soul.
We promise more details, such as more pieces to be performed will be revealed in the coming months leading up to curtain call!