Born in Caracas Venezuela, Sergio Pena, is a composer, musician, performer who is able to slip into any genre of film and enhance it to perfection with his musical skills. The music-smith studied both classical and electric guitar as well as piano and composition, orchestration and jazz arranging so he has a wide range of musical knowledge and skills which he has put to use during his career. He began his life in music by playing in a band where he would perform pop, rock and funk. As his musical interest grew he moved more in the direction of classical music and also was attracted to jazz. He marks as his influences from the classical world Beethoven, Stravinsky and Bach and from the world of film music Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams and Thomas Newman. He has written the music for over 60 projects, these include motion pictures, shorts and television assignments that include a number of documentaries, he has also acted as an orchestrator at times for other composers as well as penning songs and providing additional music for a handful of projects.
1 WHAT ARE YOUR FIRST MEMORIES OF MUSIC OR BEING ATTRACTED TO MUSIC.
When I was a child I listened to music in the church every Sunday and I also used to sing. I don’t remember much contact with music at the times. One day a friend commented that she intended to enroll for the music conservatory; I wanted too and dreamed of becoming a conductor! However, I would have to wait a long time to start studying music, and conducting even though, to be honest, a baton isn’t a priority in my career nowadays.
2 WERE YOU ALWAYS FOCUSED UPON WORKING IN FILM.
Well, at first I composed traditional pieces as school Exercises. Nowadays I focus only on film music though I’ve written some source music for scoring purpose. I find such a great inspiration from the images that I couldn’t figure out music without visual support. I should spend a some time writing for “absolute music” but my time belongs to the scoring work.
3 WHAT SIZE ORCHESTRA DID YOU USE FOR MET IN NYC.
There are two approaches in the Met in NYC score. On the one hand, as an Indie film we were limited by a low budget production and therefore we couldn’t afford an living orchestra so virtual instruments were used instead. I wanted an organic score and so I included my own guitar performance mixed over virtual strings, which I think worked fine together. On the other hand, A second approach included the recording of live musicians performing a jazz combo and another two tracks performed by the great piano soloist Abe Rábade. I felt we needed vital energy from experienced jazz musicians to bring out the spirit of NYC, and we got it!
4 HOW DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED ON THE MOVIE.
One day I received an email from a director asking me to write a score for his film. I was surprised on how well he knew my career, his comments about my work were very kind and he insisted that I was the right composer for his movie, I was informed in detail about Met in NYC and I really liked it.
5 AT WHAT STAGE OF THE PROCEEDINGS DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED ON THE MOVIE.
As usual I started in post-production, I love reading screenplays but always work more accurately watching the rough cut, music must work with what you are watching, the screenplay could let you a broader field to an evocation that could might not work well
6 WHEN WORKING ON A SCORE FOR A FILM OR TV DO YOU WORK OUT YOUR MUSICAL IDEAS ON PIANO.
Yes I do, in an early stage, the piano is my choice as it is a very direct instrument to extract my ideas, I usually say put my hands on my piano while watching the screen to compose the score, yet ironically there’s a random factor in the process. In some other cases I take my pencil and write melodies sitting at the piano to check the result. Anyway, after finishing the sketch I’d write or enter orchestration on it to create a score according to the project.
7 DO YOU PERFORM ON YOUR SCORES
Definitely I do on most of them.some productions which ask for piano, guitar, bass and keyboards can be carried out without any other musicians but me. Obviously, in a live orchestra project, I’d stay in the booth during the recording.
8 WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN WORKING ON A MOTION PICTURE AND WORKING IN TV.
Unfortunately I’ve just worked in a few TV shows so my experience can be quite personal ,Deadlines are tighter so producers prefer source music or tracks you own in your personal “library” rather than ask for a tailored track you have to write from the scratch. I think TV time is always ruling the work flow every time you have to write what a director or producer asks for. So I definitively prefer to work on a motion picture.
9 DO YOU CREATE A CENTRAL THEME FIRST WHEN COMPOSING A SCORE
I usually start writing a theme and then another one so that I can select best choices for main theme, secondary themes and also background. Once the musical sketches are written I create variations of them to fit along the scenes accordingly with to the leit motifs or scene moods.
10 WERE YOU INVOLVED IN THE SELECTION OF CUES FOR THE CD RELEASE.
Yes, I was but a good selection couldn’t have been made if my friend Godwin Borg from Kronos Records hadn’t helped me by supporting and advising me; he’s an expert editor and a true music lover, I’m very lucky to have a friend like Godwin.