THE NORWEGIAN PREMIERE OF PAS DE DEUX: THE MUSICIANS’ PERSPECTIVE
Torodd Wigum: This is a fun story for me. I happened to be here in Stavanger working with the orchestra for a week last year. Just that week, a member of the orchestra administration told me he was going to Liverpool to hear the world premiere of a new piece written by James Horner, for two Norwegian soloists, as we now know.I hadn´t heard about it, but thought it sounded exciting and heard he came back excited about the piece. Then around Christmas, I got in touch with Mari and Håkon, whom I hadn´t met before. We corresponded for a while and I was fortunate enough to be sent a copy of the score and an early copy of the recording of the piece. As I listened to the piece and read the score, I thought this was a piece I really wanted to conduct some time in my life.Then I also knew it was to be premiered in Stavanger on 13 May 2015 and planned to attend the concert to hear the piece live, get a chance to meet Mari and Håkon and maybe even James Horner himself.I then heard rumors that Horner was going to conduct the concert himself. Shortly after that, I got a call from the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra telling me that James Horner was going to conduct, but did not want to conduct the entire concert. So they needed a second conductor and wondered if I wanted to and had time. I had time, and wanted to do it, so here I am. It really is a dream come true for me to get the opportunity to work with Mari and Håkon on this piece and then the huge bonus of meeting James Horner and share the podium with him during this concert. Quite an adventure, for a freelance conductor!
Eric Rigler: This was something that came up very late in the planning. I was scheduled to play at Royal Albert Hall, with Titanic Live and then we added me to the Lucerne-dates for May 1-3. But before I left America in April, James had passed my number along to the Samuelsens. So Mari called, and said “Would you like to come and play at a special night of music? James said he’d love to have you come play. We’re going to perform our double concerto, but will also be doing some of James’s film music.”It was a little bit later than when I would’ve gone home to America, but I just planned a nice little holiday and went to Scotland to visit old friends where I used to live. I spent six or seven days there before coming here to Norway, and it’s been a great pleasure to be here. We’ve actually never done Braveheart together since we did the film, James and I, so it’s a real treat. I didn’t play on Avatar, but it’s been a lot of fun learning the parts, and crafting them into what they need to be. It’s been great!
Clara Sanabras: I worked with James Horner three years ago on the soundtrack For Greater Glory, and we stayed in touch as it was a very special time when we worked together on that score. In the meantime, I was involved in a lot of different film projects, live to projection. I told him about me doing The Lord of The Rings, and he would always reply, so we were in touch. When this became a reality, he then contacted me asking if I wanted to do this half of the tour.
Torodd Wigum: It has a very melodic expression, which Horner has also remarked himself, as well as the challenge of writing for the concert world and finding the musical language for the piece. It uses a tonal language, much like the pieces we know from his films.It´s tonal and very listenable, has a great build-up and structure with long lines, slightly melancholic or meditative throughout, before a huge build-up to a tremendous finale. So it is both a very resounding piece but also very quiet and small, starting off very calmly with sparsely instrumented sections, before taking off towards the finale. The piece utilizes a big orchestra, with two pianos and six horns.
Torodd Wigum: In preparing for this, I didn´t watch any of the films again, but listened to the scores a lot. My ambition, when approaching working with these pieces and working with Horner personally was to get this done as close to his musical wishes as possible.However I would very much like to watch the films again now. I did recently see Avatar with friends and family. A film that I of course don´t mind watching again.
Torodd Wigum: I have to admit that, as with a lot of classical musicians, John Williams probably is the film composer I have listened to the most. So I wasn´t a Horner enthusiast going into this, but a very good friend of mine in Trondheim, a violinist and composer, also for film, has James Horner as his musical idol. He unfortunately didn’t get to attend this concert and told me he was right-out jealous! But of course, James Horner truly is one of the great film composers!
Eric Rigler: I definitely have to say Braveheart was my favorite experience. The music was amazing, but the whole experience of flying to London and recording at Abbey Road Studios. Mel Gibson was there with us, and the Beatles even walked in one day to meet him. That was very special, so the whole experience of being in London for a few weeks was just great.
Clara Sanabras: Yes, working with him was an absolute highlight. Of course, he is a big name, but it was beyond that for me, that experience. His generosity and simplicity as a person was what really made it so moving for me, as the kind of artist that I am, to take part in that project.
I asked him how he wanted me to sing, and he just told me to sing it from the heart. It was like we knew each other all our lives, if you know that feeling.
Eric Rigler: I didn’t know how big it would be – the same with Braveheart, really. I had no idea how popular it had become. I thought Braveheart looked good when we recorded it. Titanic, I didn’t see much of at all during the recording, mainly just little bits and pieces that we recorded to. The first time I saw the film was in the cinema. But no, I did not expect both films to be as big as they were, but it was a lovely surprise. Also to see how much the music was loved, both Braveheart and Titanic, and of course My Heart Will Go On, which you could hear almost anywhere you went in the world.
Clara Sanabras: I think it really takes people by surprise, even though they know what they are coming to see, they are not at all sure what they are going to hear and what experience they are going to have. As a performer in it, you´re really given a power to communicate the fact that it is live, everybody knows the score and the tunes are familiar. But when the tune comes, it´s happening right there, so it´s an opportunity to channel the live energy of the band and the conductor and everyone involved to create something unique in the moment.
Eric Rigler: While we were working on Bobby Jones, James said “Are you available next week? Because I would like to put you on Troy and use some ethnic instruments”. It was a big surprise, literally we went from one right into the next.It was a lot of fun as well. We had a few days off between Bobby Jones and the beginning of Troy, and Tony Hinnigan and I were asked by James if we could collect some unusual world music instruments. So we took a nice road trip to San Francisco from Los Angeles and went to a very special specialized world music shop. Tony and I then just spent a couple of days there blowing on weird things, squeeking and squawking on things. It was so much fun and we ended up buying quite a few different things, got back to L.A, spent a few days learning how to play them and then recorded. It was a lot of fun!
Torodd Wigum: I would gladly do something similar another time! I have done some film music concerts previously, with a lot of different music, and find the musical language to be fantastic. My dream is managing to repeat tonight´s concert some day in the future. At least at home in Trondheim with the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra who I regularly work with, and also wherever else the opportunity would present itself.Regarding Pas de Deux, very much is up to Mari and Håkon. I don´t know what their plans are, but I expect they will perform this piece regularly in the coming seasons. The world premiere was with a star conductor, Vasily Petrenko, so who knows, they might get to choose bigger names than a resident conductor from Trondheim in the time to come. I hope, however, to get to do this piece again some day.
Clara Sanabras: I would be very honored to work with him again. We have nothing specific on the horizon at the moment, but hopefully we can keep in touch and keep collaborating.
Clara Sanabras: You know, there are moments in life when things come together, things you don´t take for granted. We also see so many films now a days with lots of special effects and everything, we are kind of desensitized to things. But I think an event like tonight, with Mari and Håkon and their collaboration with James and them wanting it to be a whole evening of James´s music, which I think wasn´t his first idea either. He wanted to be a small part of it, and now he´s here and I was lucky enough to be called for it. So just many things connected tonight. The audience don´t necessarily know that, but I hope they feel it when they come out.
Torodd Wigum: I guess a large part of the audience are here because of Horner and are extra interested in him and I think they will leave the concert very happy. They will get to see him conduct his own music, which he doesn´t do often, so this is a big event. I also think many of the orchestra´s more regular audience members also will be here and also experience a great evening. With so much beautiful music, it will be difficult not to enjoy the evening.I also think it will be a very emotional night. Much of the music is very powerful and big, while other parts are small and intimate, even Aliens has parts that are very quiet and small. Finally, with Horner himself rounding off the evening, conducting Titanic with the youth choir, soloist, tin whistles and Uillean Pipes, I think it will be a magical moment in the Fartein Valen concert hall.