The exceptionally talented Italian born film director Domiziano Cristopharo , created his own personal a version of MACBETH in 2017. The aptly titled MAD MACBETH was set in a futuristic timeline, with its appearance being more like films such as to MAD MAX and SALUTE TO THE JUGGER than the original vision of the great English play-write. The film which was shot in KOSOVO in locations such as half decaying buildings, deprived areas, refuse tips and scrap yards, has a rawness to it that is uncomfortable at times, its industrial and desolate appearance purveys an atmosphere that depicts an uneasy and tense mood. I think we are all familiar with MACBETH which is a story that is already dark and apprehensive. MAD MACBETH succeeds in retaining the darkness and also the violent and mysterious persona of the original play, but the director puts his own original spin upon proceedings, and although Cristopharo sticks to the plot or at least fragments of it and uses these as a foundation to his screenplay the film maker is successful in bringing the story into a post apocalyptic and uncertain time period whilst at the same time giving it a more Lovecraftian feel.



Cristopharo, again turns to the impressive acting talents of Merita Budakova and Hailil Budakova who both give entertaining performances that are also believable. The movie contains a number of scenes which are violent but I have to say this is far from gratuitous or over done or violence for the sake of it. It also has to it a mysterious and shadowy air which keeps the audience on its guard at all times. Maybe not one of the easiest movies to sit and watch but one that will leave any audience with lingering memories. For a movie made on a relatively minimal budget the production values are of a high standard with the costumes and also the make up being of an above average standard, exemplary cinematography and an outstanding musical score.


The music for MAD MACBETH is dark and brooding and thickly laced with atmospheric and mysterious musical passages, the score is the work of the highly talented composing duo Salvatore Sangiovanni and Susan DiBona. Although they work as a collaborative each has their own particular unique musical voice and together are responsible for penning numerous film scores and television soundtracks. The music for MAD MACBETH is powerful but in a low key fashion, the composers marking and enhancing the many moods of the movie, creating a rich and colourful support for its compulsive storyline. The soundtrack will be released very soon on KRONOS RECORDS who also released the composers excellent score for THE TRANSPARENT WOMAN which was a homage to the musical world of Italian Giallo and also saluted the likes of Morricone, Cipriani, Nicolai etc






Susan DiBona.

Born 18 February 1974 in New Haven, CT.
Composer for film and television, conductor, pianist, educator.
Winner, Global Music Awards 2015 Silver Medals for Composition/Composer and Original Soundtrack Film&Television. Study of Piano and Theory with Leopold Godowsky III, nephew of George Gershwin, piano with Thomas A. Martin. Study of European Languages (Italian, German, Spanish, Swedish, French, ancient Greek) and Literature at Barnard College/Columbia University, New York. Study of cello, viola bassoon, organ, flute. Participated in NYU/ASCAP Buddy Baker Film Scoring Workshop, New York University. Study of Latin American Literature at Connecticut College. Susan has conducted the Berliner Symphoniker, Studio Ensemble of New York Philharmonic, various studio recording ensembles in Berlin and Italy, Choir The Art of Contrast (Berlin), Neuma/Ensemble for Medieval Music (Berlin), and various church and studio choirs. Has toured as assistant musical director and orchestrator for musicals in USA and across Europe. Vocal coach for Star Search television show, Germany.
Performances in venues such as Berliner Philharmonie, ICC Berlin, Woolsey Hall, Lincoln Center, Goodpeed-at-Chester, Theater of St. George’s College, Buenos Aires, Nikolaisaal, Potsdam (Germany). Performed private Gershwin recital at the Godowsky Estate in New England. Has written many scores for popular primetime television series and movies broadcast in Europe and the Americas. Her feature films have been shown in international cinemas and at festivals such as Comiccon, Cannes, Berlinale, Fantasia Film Festival, Filmfest Hamburg and Filmfest Oldenburg. Currently producing and composing for film projects in her own music production studios in southern Italy. Member of the Faculty of Classical Piano, Accademia Musicale Cameristi di Laos, Santa Maria del Cedro, Italy.



Salvatore Sangiovanni.
born 14 August 1980 in Praia a Mare, Italy.
Concert pianist, jazz pianist, composer, educator.
Winner, Global Music Awards 2015 Silver Medals for Composition/Composer and Original Soundtrack Film&Television. Education: The Royal School of London, Diploma in Piano Performance, as well as private study of piano performance with Maestro José Lepore, following the pianistic school of Claudio Arrau. Currently working towards Doctorate in Concert Piano Performance and historical performance techniques with Gianmaria Bonino at the Conservatorio di Alessandria, Italy.
Master class in jazz piano performance with Michael Camilo (Juilliard).
Winner of 15 international piano competitions. Participated in master classes in orchestration, Russian piano technique, film music composition, and orchestration. Composed 4 original operas which have toured in Italy and Czech Republic. Jazz performances in concerts and festivals across Italy. 2015 USA concert premiere performing Liszt Sonata in B-minor and compositions of Susan DiBona in Gagnon Auditorium, Clinton, CT, USA. Performed private Gershwin recital at the Godowsky Estate in New England. Has conducted Orchestra Cameristi di Laos, Italy; Chamber Orchestra of Ostrava, Czech Republic; Chamber Orchestra Città di Priverno, and the Philharmonic Orchestra of Calabria.Besides performing virtuoso classical piano repertoire and jazz, he currently works as a film composer for various documentaries, shorts, and features for Italian independent productions and national TV. Founder and Artistic Director of the state-accredited Accademia Musicale Cameristi di Laos, Santa Maria del Cedro, Italy, associated with Conservatory of Music of Alessandria.
I spoke to the composers about MAD MACBETH.

How did you become involved with MAD MACBETH?
Domiziano de Cristopharo, with whom we have worked on various projects (including Mad Macbeth, Pieces of Me, etc), called us and asked if we were interesting in scoring this film.
Kronos - Copy

Your score is very dark in its sound and style, were you given any specific instructions by the Director as to what route you should take musically? –

He gave us some references to 80s and 90s films, but for the most part, we were allowed lots of creative space. We see the score as an homage to those action movies done by composers such as Basil Poledouris, Cannon Films productions, Vangelis, hairspray heavy metal, plus old action and crime shows we used to watch on TV. There’s a lot of irony in it.
There is also the use of guitar within the score, did you and Susan perform on the soundtrack and What size orchestra did you utilise and what percentage of the score was performed by synths?



We performed every bit ourselves. The only actual instruments are flute and voice, the rest are samples and synths.

How much time did you have to complete the score? –
We finished the score in 10 days, plus 2 days of mixing. The film is about 90 minutes long, and our actual score contains over 80 minutes of music! The harmonic structure was improvised to the film in real time, all first takes from start to finish, then we went back over it, taking turns like a game, and added more layers of instrumentation as we saw fit. It was probably the most fun we’ve ever had in the studio.




ENNIO MORRICONE AT THE O2 NOVEMBER 26TH 2018.(Concert report).


How do you begin when you are dealing with a Legend in film music, how do you say that this individual has brought much to the world of movie scores, has enriched ingratiated and enhanced so many movies making them better, making them more powerful and more impacting, well I suppose you begin back in 1966 when a young teenager decided he would spend his pocket money all 13 shillings and 11d on an LP record that was priced wrongly in his local Telefusion shop. The LP was THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY and the teenager was me. Who was Ennio Morricone, what was this movie? These were the questioned I asked as I sat on the bus with the record in my hands looking at the cover. Well that was the start of it for me, Ennio Morricone was from then on a part of my life, and he was also a big part of my voyage of discovery as I started to become more immersed and interested in film music in general.




Little did I realise that Morricone would become the composer that I most favoured and the composer who would start to overtake my collection of records then compact discs. On Monday 26th November 2018. I went to London to see the Maestro for what was billed as his last ever UK concert, now I am always somewhat sceptical when I hear of artists or composers announcing that they will not again be stepping up to a podium or appearing on stage in front of an audience. But, at 90 years of age Ennio Morricone has surely earned the rest from touring. I have seen Morricone five times previously in concert, but this night there seemed to be an air of something special present in the vast arena of the O2. As the people filed in I watched in amazement as the arena filled to capacity, and as the Maestro came on stage the entire arena was on its feet, a standing ovation before anything had been performed.



The Maestro took his place on the podium in front of the CZECH NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA and also THE CROUCH END FESTIVAL CHOIR, an impressive sight of over 200 musicians and singers. A hush fell over the arena a hush of anticipation and an excitement because we all knew what was coming. The Maestro raised hisbaton slowly and the tones of his gorgeous theme for 1900,THE LEGEND OF THE PIANIST began to slowly build and build to the sweeping and luxurious crescendo which every time sends shivers all over my body, the strings literally taking off and purveying a sensation of lush and romantically infused excellence, the cue continues to build and horns are added giving the piece a depth and presence that is to be honest overwhelming. The crescendo subsides and the music reverts to how it began with piano and clarinet being underlined by sliding strings and an emotive violin solo which is filled with melancholy and poignancy. As the music faded and came to an end it drew much applause and shouts of Ennio bravo from the audience, what an opening for the night, could it get any better, well that is a stupid question really as we all know what the response is to that. The applause melted away as on the large screens appeared SCATTERED SHEETS. Again the audience settled down in their seats and awaited the delights of the Maestro.

This section of the concert began with, CHI MAI the unmistakable opening bars drawing applause, CHI MAI was the track that was a big hit in the UK when the BBC used it as the opening theme for one of their popular TV series back in the 1970’s. Originally composed by Morricone for the movie MADDALENA, this neatly segued into the theme for H2S, which is a theme I have always thought was so beautiful, this was followed by UNO CHE GRIDA AMORE which is taken from the ever popular Morricone soundtrack, METTI UNA CERA A SENA. Again the piece being met with much approval from members of the audience, ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA was represented next in the form of the lilting and yet rich and haunting theme for DEBORAH from the Sergio Leone masterpiece. BAARIA came next in the running, the film which was directed by respected film maker Guiseppe Tornatore is a comedy drama and was released in 2009, Morricone’s emotive and alluring themes graced the movie and the combination of the Maestro’s music and the visionary film making of Tornatore are unbeatable and the music performed here in concert although fairly brief was in a word stunning. The TARANTELLA from the 1974 film ALLONSANFAN was next and this driving and dramatic sounding piece brought the SCATTERED SHEETS section of the concert to a close. I for one was so pleased with hearing Allonsanfan as I had not heard it performed live before and it is in my opinion a classic Morricone score from a period in his career when his was so innovative and productive. The audience were on their feet again (this happened a lot during the evening). Next we were introduced to the excellent soprano Susanna Rigacci who has accompanied the Maestro on so many of his concert tours, NOSTROMO was next, three selections from the score were performed.




The Title track, plus TROPICAL FANTASY and SILVER OF THE MINE wonderfully performed by orchestra and choir who supported the unique and soaring wordless vocals of the Soprana. Again a massive applause resounded around the arena and deservedly so. Up next was a section that has always been popular, THE MODERNITY OF THE MYTH IN SERGIO LEONE’S CINEMA, this section opened with the dramatic and sinister strains of the harmonica from the MAN WITH THE HARMONICA composition which is as we all know taken from the score to ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, we could not see the harmonica soloist as he or she was not on stage but was playing in the wings, the performance was flawless and led into the familiar and powerful composition performed by orchestra and choir. This was neatly followed by THE STRONG from THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY, which in turn led into the central theme from the movie, there was much applause again for the Maestro as the strains of the theme commenced and then THE ECSTACY OF GOLD and all I can say is WOW, WOW. Or should that be WAH WAH? This was something truly special something, that is excellent and emotional and such a commanding piece of music that has endured and become classic piece.



So the arena went wild literally wild with shouts and applause whistles as the first half of the concert came to an end. The O2 was packed and I thought it was best to stay seated rather than run the gauntlet of the bars food places and other amenities. The choir and orchestra returned after approx 15 mins, the concert had started 15 mins late, we did not know why but I now think it may have had something to do with the announcement of the death of Bernardo Bertolucci.


The Maestro returned as always bowing so low to the audience as he turned to face them on the podium. THE HATEFUL EIGHT was next LAST STAGE TO RED ROCK. I have to admit not my favourite score from the Maestro, but its Tarantino so its bound to be different, and it won Morricone his Oscar at last. The lengthy suite was followed by The SOCIAL CINEMA section of the concert with guest vocalist Dulce Pontes, again flawless and excellent Morricone conducted the orchestra and choir whilst Pontes sang in a way only she can, performing her magic on cues from SACCO AND VANZETTI (the ballad of Sacco and Vanzetti) LA LUZ PRODIGIOSA (the end of a mystery) and also getting involved in ABOLICAO from Quiemada. The Maestro also conducted selections from CASUALTIES OF WAR, BATTLE OF ALGIERS, INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN ABOVE SUSPICION, SOSTIENE PEREIRA and THE WORKING CLASS GO TO HEAVEN. So this was a real treat for the die hard fans of Morricone and contains music from a varied selection of movies. The arena erupted people standing whistling, shouting and enjoying the night so much, you could actually feel the love in the air, the warmth the adoration for the Maestro. The time was getting on sadly, its at this time in a concert that one wants to go and put the clock back an hour or maybe two just so that you can stay and hear more and more. THE MISSION was next and three cues from his magnificent soundtrack, GABRIELS OBOE, THE FALLS and ON HEAVEN AS IT IS ON EARTH, as always this was truly uplifting and emotional, but tonight it seemed even more so.



The suite came to its end and drew so much applause and a standing ovation, the Maestro bowed and applauded his fans from the podium and then left the stage, but the applause was relentless and yes he came back an encore, the audience took their seats once again and the haunting theme from CINEMA PARADISO floated around the arena, followed by the love theme form the same movie. Again more applause more shouts and whistles, the Maestro once again left the stage, but were the audience going to let him go? No they were not he returned for two more encores, THE ECSTACY OF GOLD and then ABOLICAO, with Dulce Pontas added her special vocal talents to the proceedings. This performance of the piece was even louder if that was at all possible. This did the concert to a close, the Maestro embracing Pontes and then bowing to the arena and waving as he left, this was a concert that was so special a concert of iconic themes and a concert of masterful compositions by a man who is without a doubt the greatest living film music composer. So many memories, so many emotions, so much music that changed so many peoples lives and inspired many more, from the 1960’s through to the 21 century Morricone has been there and will remain via his music old and hopefully new. Thank you Dear Maestro.



The western as we know it was I suppose the invention of the American film industry and it was a genre that was filled with good guys, bad guys, adventure, excitement and also a little romance at times. The American produced movies became the staple diet of many cinema audiences as they enjoyed classics such as THE BIG COUNTRY, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, THE SEARCHERS, GONE WITH THE WIND, HIGH NOON etc. Then enter foreign westerns as in German, Spanish, Italian, Turkish, Greek and even those British guys were having a go.


One western in particular I have always wondered about is THE HUNTING PARTY directed by British film maker Don Medford released in 1971, it starred Oliver Reed, Candice Bergen (fresh from her success in SOLDIER BLUE) and Gene Hackman (who had a following because of his performance in THE FRENCH CONNECTION released earlier in the same year), the attraction for me mostly was the score by Italian Maestro Riz Ortolani. This was unusually raw and brutal in style and sound for Ortolani who is probably best remembered for his film scores that contained haunting melodies and chirpy and catchy tunes.



THE HUNTING PARTY had a great main theme which opened with a repeating electric guitar riff that was supported by percussion and a driving string theme that swept over the listener, sadly the score has never been issued, the only track being released was the actual theme on a United Artists single in 1971 with the song WHERE’S POPPA on the B side.




Watching the movie again recently I can understand why a soundtrack LP was not released, there is not a great deal of music in the movie apart from the theme which can be heard in varying arrangements, the opening sequence containing a powerful arrangement of this, nevertheless a selection of cues from the score would be welcomed, maybe on a compilation of the Maestro’s western music, which could include selections from CIAKMULL also(another unreleased score by Ortolani).


The film itself was met with mixed reaction but most of it being negative, it was seen as a poor imitation of the Italian western format, with copious amounts of blood spattering and slow motion killings in the style of THE WILD BUNCH. Reed seemed awkward and out of place in the movie, with Bergen reduced to a few gasps and Hackman being an incensed rancher who is Bergen’s husband. Bergen is kidnapped by Reed and his bunch of merry men, Reed mistakes her for the local school teacher and decides that he would like to read and write so why not just kidnap her and have some one to one tutor time. The films storyline is basically one of those bandit and lady scenarios which we saw so much in the 1970’s in westerns and also in films such as THE WIND AND THE LION (1975). Bergen’s character although held a prisoner seems to warm to Reed and it unfolds that she is not happy with her Husband who is a sadistic, controlling and disrespectful bully. Reed kidnaps Bergan whilst Hackman is off with his associates on a HUNTING PARTY, but they soon switch the pray they are hunting from wild animals to humans as they begin to track down Reed and his band armed to the teeth with high powered rifles that can pick off a man at 800 yards (making a bloody mess and creating carnage). This is where the director mostly utilises the slow motion action and whilst it is effective it is no where nearly as well done as it was in THE WILD BUNCH, there seems to be fountains of claret at times leaving the outlaws with horrific wounds. The film comes to its conclusion with a final showdown between Reed, Hackman and Bergan. The movie I think lost its way just a little and as I said beforehand Reed was totally out of place in his role.
The one saving grace is the musical score or at least the raw and savage sounding theme for the movie. Maybe one day the music will get a release, but until it does we have to make do with the UA single, or there is always you- tube.




THE HUNTING PARTY was one of a handful of movies that attempted to cash in on the success and popularity of the Italian western, it was filmed in Spain in the same location as Spaghetti westerns that included A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE and THE FIVE MAN ARMY etc, and it had a very similar story line to a handful of spaghetti’s and of course the score by an Italian composer. But Sergio Leone, Sollima or Corbucci it is not.





Ennio Morricone is to perform his last ever UK concert at the The O2 on November 26th 2018, with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra and the Crouch End Festival Chorus.
Ennio Morricone is rightly considered the world’s greatest living film composer, a legend whose work has reached far beyond the scorched desert-scapes of Almeria (A Few Dollars More) and the tumultuous waters of Iguazu Falls (The Mission).
Now for the very final time, Maestro Ennio Morricone will conduct his film music live in the UK at the The O2 in London.



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Much sought after by filmmakers the world over for his matchless versatility and productivity, Morricone’s innovative soundworks and truly exhaustive range of musical styles have complemented practically every conceivable movie genre there is. Over a career spanning six decades, Ennio Morricone has composed over 500 scores for cinema and television as well as over 100 absolute music works. Highlights include his scores for Once Upon a Time in the West, One Upon a Time in America, A Fistful of Dollars, The Untouchables and The Mission. Morricone’s score for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly holds the number two position in the Top 200 ranking of best film soundtracks ever composed.
The performance in London is part of an extended tour to mark his 60-year Anniversary as a professional composer and conductor, which has included more than 40 concerts played in 30 European cities over the last few years, selling over 500k tickets.
In 2016, Morricone composed and recorded the score for Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, for which he received universal praise, including his long awaited Academy Award for Best Original Score, his sixth BAFTA Award for Best Film Music, and his third Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score.
That same year, Ennio Morricone also reunited with director Giuseppe Tornatore on romantic drama The Correspondence, starring Jeremy Irons. Its release was exactly 30 years after the 1986 release of The Mission, which also starred Irons. Morricone and Tornatore had previously collaborated on Cinema Paradiso, Malèna, The Legend of 1900, Baaria and The Best Offer.


On the final show in London, Morricone said:
“I have very fond memories of my tours to the UK. From my very first concert at the Barbican Centre to my shows at the beautiful Royal Albert Hall and recently the spectacular nights at The O2 arena and the Blenheim Palace grounds. The English audience has always given me a very warm welcome and I felt strongly that I should play one last big concert in London before I retire at the end of this year.”
Maestro Morricone will personally conduct the concerts. The concert in London will be performed by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra and the Crouch End Festival Chorus. The CNSO has had a long history of working with Maestro Morricone, having joined him on almost the entirety of his tour the past few years. They were also the orchestra on the recording of the music for The Hateful Eight, so the many awards this score garnered show the fruitful collaboration between the Maestro and this orchestra.






Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Chorus

Conductor Diego Navarro


A review by John Williams

Varese Sarabande 40th Anniversary Concert
Saturday 17th Nov 2018
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
7-30 PM.


Towards the  end of a bitterly cold, yet Sunny day, Hollywood swept in and  landed in Glasgow on Saturday night, via a scheduled stop in Edinburgh  the night before.

Varese Sarabande, as we all know, were  probably the first of the Specialist labels in the States for Film Music, both original recordings and for re-recordings. That they are still, leader of the pack, and  whilst there are many contenders for title  that around, is due  Robert Townson, who’s name is just as well known as the Composers he is still, thankfully promoting.    His first recording was under the logo of Masters Film Music in 1985   , and that was a stellar score by the one and only Jerry Goldsmith. THE FINAL CONFLICT, the final part of Fox’s trilogy, which ironically has a more powerful and astounding score than THE OMEN, which Goldsmith very belatedly won his first and only Oscar for Best Original Score.


Towards the late Eighties and Nineties in particularly,  Mr  Townson recorded many landmark scores with the RSNO. here in Glasgow   Many very familiar, THE GREAT ESCAPE. THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN,  THE SAND PEBBLES, REBECCA ,with the ones that years earlier , would have only been dreamed of. CITIZEN KANE, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD,  BORN FREE, the list is endless.




So,  on Saturday night, an amazing programme was  played under the baton of Maestro Diego Navarro –  more anon.   The actual music played was much more varied and well thought out than I originally envisaged.  Certainly prior to the Concert, the Music looked like a very straightforward , yet interesting collection of familiar favourites.  Nothing could be further from the truth, as Mr Townson and his advisors brought together a collection of a Music, designed to appeal to , shall say, a less than committed listener, and one, like my self,  who had been listening to Film Music for more years than I can to mention!!



The added bonus if you like was the addition of,  Composers in Residence.  Three of Film land’s top scorers were actually in the audience. and selections from their wide ranging  compositions were played on the night.     Patrick Doyle, Oscar winner and composer of some of the biggest hits in recent years. I first interviewed Mr Doyle on occasion of his first film score, HENRY V.  Rachel Portman, Another Oscar winner, for EMMA, and composer of some of the finest Film Scores to come out of the U.K. and Hollywood in the last 20 years or so.  Again I recall interviewing Ms Portman  in earlier days, around the time of THE STORYTELLER, and ORANGES ARE NOT THE ONLY FRUIT as  I recall, and finally David Arnold.   Composer of arguably the best Bond score since John Barry, TOMORROW NEVER DIES. Superb score and great end title song.  I spoke to him in the Studio when he was scoring that I recall.   Boy, I have been very   lucky and very privileged ! .

However as they say in THE SOUND OF MUSIC, let’s start at the very beginning.    Above the orchestra, between the  Ladies and Men’s Chorus hung a screen, which was a major and integral  of the Concert.  After a very  warm welcome to Mr Townson, the music started with a Overture of many of the themes that Varese had recorded over the years.  It was useful to see the Composer, and scenes from the recording sessions  as the music was being played.   The music was well synchronised with the images so the Overture finished right on cue with the final scenes. THE SEA HAWK kicked it off, with Silvestri and Goldsmith to the fore, and it was nice to hear music by one of the Hollywood Greats being played, Bruce Broughton’s THE BOY WHO COULD FLY .  What a lovely score this – a fine score of growing up and all that entails .


Two from Mr Doyle next AS YOU LIKE IT, A lovely and evocative Violin Romance played superbly by the RSNO’s leader, Sharon Roffman, followed by a piece from NANNY McFEE entitled “Snow in August” which is virtually as the title suggests.  Light and airy , you could almost feel the snow coming  down.   Great choral work from the Ladies of the RSNO Chorus    I always think that a good barometer of hearing music like this, is if you want to get the CD and play it when you get home, and that was certainly what I felt with this exquisite piece, then it works!.

Real change of pace next : THE GENERALS.  “MacArthur” and “Patton” by the much missed Jerry Goldsmith.   An orchestral tour de force here, and the RSNO were well up to the challenge.  I recall hearing Maestro Goldsmith conduct this at the Barbican in 1989, and this pretty much erased that rendering.   Well done RSNO!


I admit to a lump in the throat, when Mr Townson mentioned that when Jerry Goldsmith passed away, ” Film Music would never be the same again”    How true, however much we are very fortunate to have so many fine talents with us, Jerry Goldsmith  was. well,  Jerry Goldsmith!

Second soloist was Sara Andon who flew in from Los Angeles to bring us  a new piece adapted from Alex North’s landmark score SPARTACUS, a Fantasy on the Love theme, arranged by a great composer in his own right,  Lee Holdridge.   Nicely done, without the flute overbalancing and acting , and  it  may seem strange to say , a  spectator , as Ms Andon weaved her own particular brand of magic into , a truly great  Love theme, one of the finest recorded for any film. A few scenes from the film were shown on the screen, though the scenes which were pretty dark anyway, proved difficult to see at times. Mr Townson said this was his most favourite film score, and whilst Jerry Goldsmith and himself could never get around to re-record the score, he did finally manage to bring out a 6 CD set of the score and various interpretations.


Next up three from the talented and elegant Ms Portman.  The End Titles from the Oscar – winner, EMMA.,   a shorter piece from NEVER LET ME GO entitled “The Pier”.  Really loved this score, another one I am ashamed to say I wasn’t aware of.  Brilliant piece of writing  and finally from Ms Portman the End Titles from GREAT MOMENTS IN AVIATION, a score Mr Townson said he was proud to bring out, in a compilation of Ms Portman’s Movie scores, Lovely solo by Ms Sofia Troncoso,   –  Soprano. and very moving, a wonderful cue to close Ms Portman’s contribution .

Magnificent stuff, and as you can tell by now a heady brew of well known, and lesser know pieces to keep ones interest buoyant.

I should say that before the Music was played by Ms Portman and Mr Doyle, they said a few interesting words and comments from the audience.


To close Part one, a piece from SHREK.  For obvious reasons I guess coming from Scotland.  All elements of the Orchestra and Chorus were brought into play and it closed the first hour and ten minutes on a high.  I should say that is more me than this piece didn’t exactly hit the highs,.   No disrespect at all to the talented Mr Gregson- Williams and John Powell  (Mr Powell I recall speaking  to when he was working on STAY LUCKY)  but it was one of those pieces of music I couldn’t  recall after immediately hearing it.
Whew,  We all needed a break after all that. Fantastic.

Twenty minutes or so later, Part Two.   It kicked off  with a Varese Sarabande Action / Sci- Fi Overture, containing gems by Poledouris,  Horner, Kamen etc. These titles were shown on the Screen to start with but then faded quickly  to show stills of all the Composers that Mr Townson had worked with or recorded music by, starting with John Addison and finishing with Hans Zimmer, who else?   An amazing A to Z.   Again it was very moving to see some of these great composers so many now long with us.  There was a still of Mr Townson with the late Francis Lai, which was particularly evocative.    To return to the Overture, unless you knew all the themes very well, it would have been very difficult to pick out one from another. To be honest  they all tended to sound the same.


Next up Jerry Goldsmith’s ALIEN End Titles, one of my favourites from this troubled score and a great trumpet solo here.     This was a pretty short cue as was the next two themes, GAME OF THRONES, and Trevor Jones brilliant  Main Title from THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS.  Mr Townson informed us that this was one of their best sellers, and it virtually paid for the re-recording, in Glasgow with the RSNO, of Franz Waxman’s famous score to Alfred Hitchcock’s REBECCA.

I haven’t mention the Conductor as such as yet, but the next piece up was from a  Spanish Film he had scored entitled  PASSAGE TO DAWN.  For soloist  in this,  a delightful  Aarya  Gambhir from the RSNO Junior Chorus, gave a very well received , audience pleasing solo, and it was a really good piece of music that I suspect none of us had ever heard of before.

I admit now that I am fully paid up member of the unofficial  Diego Navarro Fan Club. This man is brilliant!    What a Showman!!.  How wonderful to see a Conductor to be so involved with the Music, so that every piece was a delight to watch, as well as listen to.   My wife, who over the years has had to put up with so much music, that I go in raptures about, and she say’s  “What are you listening to !!” and wonders why I am getting so excited was actually well into this Concert ,and just loved Mr Navarro.  I would certainly travel to see him Conduct  Anything!!


Ms Andon came back next with her flute for  Suite for Flute and Orchestra from TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.    Mr Townson correctly said that this was a “tear jerker” and I would be the first to agree perhaps I could be a wee bit critical , I felt the flute took something away rather than adding a positive.  I still think that the opening solo piano is still the best option, as Mr Bernstein intended  but admit that when the orchestra come in to fully take up the theme , it breaks me up every time.  One of the finest film scores ever. period.

Last of the Composers up was David Arnold.   I had heard  of FOUR BROTHERS but regretfully  admit had never heard it,  but after hearing the End Titles I think it was – it doesn’t actually say.  that is something I must quickly remedy. Here the versatility of RSNO was shown, and how  . Trumpet,  percussion really took one’s breath away, but as we well, know, that is well within  their  capabilities . Witness the Orchestral tour de force last year, I think it was in the Williams  v Zimmer Concert.



INDEPENDENCE DAY was the last score up   .  Once more the combined talents of Orchestra and Chorus, proved Mr Townson’s predication.  “This is going to be big!”   And so it was, an amazing  piece of music, that to be honest, has to be heard live.  However good it is on CD.

How wonderful to have so much composing talent in this country-    and all Composers present.

By then the Audience was on it’s feet ,  applauding that went before, but of course, the Superlative  Orchestra, and the Conductor, Diego Navarro, who I think was genuinely moved by the reaction from the near sell – out Hall.

Mr Townson came back to introduce a Encore, one that “we would all know” .    Ms Andon came back to rapturous applause to play      …………   well, to be honest I wasn’t sure listening to  Ms Andon’s opening notes.  I think Jazz Rip is the wrong phrase , but I couldn’t  work out what it was till the Orchestra  fully joined in.  Oh I see, it’s MOON RIVER by Henry Mancini.  Lovely theme of course but a pretty average arrangement.


So finally ,  all the Composers came back to be  introduced once more, the whole evening wrapped around 10-00 PM which is a pretty good evening by anyone’s  standards.

40 Years of Varese Sarabande is well worth celebrating and this one heck of a way to do it.    I did wonder though after Mr Townson’s genuine love of the Orchestra and the recordings he produced, why he hadn’t been back to make more in the last ten years or so?   He did hint thought that the relationship with the Orchestra hasn’t exactly finished, so lets hope there are more treasures to come.

There is of course a new CD set to celebrate 40 Years of Varese Sarabande,  available  digitally now or in CD form around the end of November, with extra tracks.  It seems a shame that such a wonderful marketing opportunity was wasted.   I may be wrong but I did not see any CDS on sale. I realise it might cause more problems than benefits,-  someone from the Concert Hall would have to sell them, then there is how to pay,  but when you think of all the people in the Hall, a more tangible  souvenir of the Evening might have been a CD.   I am sure many  of the audience had no Soundtrack CDS in their collection, so  there may have been more than one Soundtrack convert that night if they had a CD to buy.


That said,   The “RSNO At The Movies” series continues in great form.   What a superb Orchestra, and aren’t we lucky to have such a great Orchestra on our doorstep.  I count myself lucky to have been at the first Filmharmonic Concert in 1970 when Henry Mancini, Elmer Bernstein, Ron Goodwin and Scotland’s own Muir  Mathieson  were conductors, and that Concert single –  handedly started Composers thinking of bringing their music to a wider audience rather  than  just stuck behind a car chase, a love scene or a adventure in outer space.!!.

Nearly 50 years on ,and the RSNO  are very safe custodians of such a  mighty legacy.  Long may they continue

Next up SCI -FI SPECTACULAR in Edinburgh  Friday 25th Jan 2019, and Glasgow Saturday 26th Jan 2019
THE MUSIC OF HARRY POTTER  in Edinburgh Friday 15th March 2019 AND Glasgow  Saturday 16th March 2019.

For my part, so far, my next Concerts to look forward to

THE MUSIC OF JOHN WILLIAMS  in Edinburgh Friday 26th April and Saturday 27th April 2019
(Conducted by Richard Kaufman who knows a heck of a lot about conducting Film Music, especially the esteemed John Williams)
BACK TO THE FUTURE  IN CONCERT Friday 24th May 2019 and Glasgow Saturday 25th May 2019.


See you there!!