A Symphony Of Hope: The Haiti Project
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A Symphony of Hope: The Haiti Project
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Symphony of Hope is a musical fundraising project which was originally designed to help the people of Haiti in their desperate time of need. A year after the terrible earthquake which has destroyed the lives of thousands of Haitians, the need for assistance is even greater than ever.
"Symphony of Hope" is a collaboration by 25 of today's leading Oscar(r), Tony(r), Grammy(r) and Emmy(r) winning composers to benefit Haiti Earthquake Relief. The "Symphony of Hope" begins with an original Haitian melody, then each composer contributes an additional 8-32 bars of
music to the piece and then passes it along to the next composer. This is symbolic in the way that one lending hand passes on to another lending hand and so on and eventually a beautiful outcome is achieved.
The orchestral piece was recorded this spring on the Eastwood Scoring Stage at Warner Brothers Pictures, with everyone donating their time - the composers, orchestrators, copyists, musicians, scoring stage technicians, etc. Recording of additional pieces happened in Los Angeles
following these sessions to provide additional music inspired by the people of Haiti.
The entire process was filmed in high definition by award winning filmmaker Brian Weidling and plans for a film documenting the making of the piece as well as a live benefit concert for the world premiere are also underway. All proceeds from the sale of the album and any related material
When sold by Amazon.com, this product will be manufactured on demand using CD-R recordable media. Amazon.com's standard return policy will apply.
by Beau Bridges
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The idea is a clever one; beginning with a traditional Haitian melody, "Wongolo", each composer contributes an additional 8-32 bars of music to the piece, and then passes it along to the next composer, until eventually an entire symphony is created. The idea of having different composers pick up the torch from a predecessor is symbolic of the way that one helping hand passes on to another helping hand, and so on and so on, until eventually dozens of people are contributing to a common cause. And what people; twenty five composers, a 92-piece orchestra and a 42-strong choir including special soloists, 23 orchestrators and arrangers, 16 engineers and editors, and various publicists, journalists and graphic designers all came together and donated their time free of charge to help make this project possible, making it by far the most widespread and comprehensive charitable project ever undertaken by the Los Angeles film music community. And this is the result; not only is the project a worthy one, but the music itself is absolutely superb.
The symphony is split into five movements, each intending to convey an aspect of Haitian life before, during, and after the earthquake. The opening movement, "Wongolo", is a celebration of Haitian culture, containing several variations on the central melody of the traditional folk song which many have called the musical soul of Haiti. Beginning with George S. Clinton's lush and graceful orchestral and choral arrangement, at 1:26 it segues into a gorgeous vocal performance by Lisbeth Scott of the song in French over an arrangement by Christophe Beck, before moving on to a playful, lively variation by comedy composer John Swihart. At around the 4:30 mark Brian Tyler takes over, and takes the melody in a totally different direction, adding a darker and more plaintive trumpet performance, speaking to the pride and nobility of the Haitian people. The movement concludes with a joyous piece written by Lisbeth Scott herself, beginning with a sublime Mike Lang piano solo, and eventually building into a glorious, full-throated orchestral and choral dance, with rolling timpanis and rousing brass, before returning to Lang's sensitive solo piano to close the piece.
The second movement, "Devastation", is a musical depiction of the earthquake itself, angry, violent, confusing, and ultimately harrowing, as the full extent of the terrible forces of nature are unleashed. Christopher Lennertz, Theodore Shapiro, Don Davis and Andrew Gross tackle the action music portion of the score; Lennertz's opening piece starts calmly, almost pastorally, with a bass recorder, before exploding into a tumult of action. Andrew Gross intentionally echoes Don Davis's score for The Matrix with shifting, fading brasses, before the movement launches into a dark and powerful Don Davis-penned action sequence for the full orchestra and chorus chanting deconstructed parts of the Wongolo lyrics against a throbbing, percussive action beat. Also of note in this movement are a couple of pieces of Pete Seibert's `connective tissue', bridging the gap between Lennertz's and Gross's pieces, and then again between Gross's and Davis's, during which he intentionally channels the musical identity of other composers - listen for the homage to James Horner's four-note motif at the 1:44 mark, as well as some allusions to John Williams' E.T. Flying Theme around the 2:42 mark.
Things change with comedy composer David Kitay's piece, composing against type with a very serious sequence for tremolo strings, pizzicato effects, and a lonely brass performance of the Wongolo melody. Elia Cmiral's gorgeous lament, which concludes the movement, features a cello solo performed by Dennis Karmazyn and abstract choral effects, and is amongst the most emotional pieces the Czech composer has ever written.
The third movement, "The Aftermath", speaks of the sense of relief felt by the survivors as they pick through the rubble of what was once their home. It's a piece which seems intentionally confused in tone; it is at times soft and solemn, at others almost celebratory in tone, clearly intending to illustrate the conflicting emotions felt by those who survived the quake - I am happy to be alive, but so many of my people are dead. The movement begins with John Debney's contribution, in which a beautiful and graceful solo flute melody eventually grows to encompass a warm and tender string and choral sequence that is simply gorgeous. Christopher Young takes up the mantle at 2:45, combining Karmazyn's cello performance with another stirring Lisbeth Scott performance of the main theme, before passing the torch to Tyler Bates, who adds a contemporary edge to the melody with an electric guitar version of the melody alongside heartfelt wordless vocals. The piece ends with a wonderful blending of both Young and Bates's music that rises to an enormous, thematic crescendo, ending the piece on a triumphant and hopeful note.
The fourth movement, "Rebuilding", looks at the humanitarian efforts to pick Haiti up off its knees. It has a can-do, busy attitude of progress and determination, beginning with Dave Grusin's jazz-inflected opening piece, which puts muted brasses against a jazz percussion section with brushed snares and cymbal rings. Edward Shearmur's first piece is quiet and intimate, featuring a soft string wash and soft-stringed guitars, while Michael Wandmacher's subsequent piece is quite wonderful, a rousing arrangement of the Wongolo melody that rises to epic proportions and works in a bold classic Hollywood sweep. Nathan Barr's contribution is a grandiose, almost classical-baroque piece for strings and choir and a vivacious rhythmic core that has echoes of Bach, before Shearmur returns again with a vibrant, rhythmic, almost tribal piece, making wonderful use of traditional percussion, rattlers and shakers, and an up-tempo world music beat.
The final movement, "Hope", is one of optimism, looking to a possible future where Haiti has recovered from this devastating natural disaster and once again returned to civilization. The whole cue is basically a series of arrangements of the Wongolo melody, building up to a grand and magnificent denouement. The movement opens with a stunning, heartfelt vocal performance by Carmen Twillie (from The Lion King) over a Deborah Lurie arrangement, which segues into a stunning full-orchestral statement by Bruce Broughton that at times recalls the lushness of his love theme from Tombstone. Tim Wynn, Jeff Beal and Marvin Hamlisch take their turn in sequence, Beal highlighting dancing flutes and Hamlisch a syncopated piano line, before Randy Edelman takes over for the big finale, an arrangement which at times resembles his score for Dragonheart. The project's lead orchestrator, Pete Seibert, has his moment in the sun, composing nearly a minute of the piece's big finish from the 8:39 mark, before Edelman returns to conclude the symphony with epic majesty.
Rounding out the album are three additional pieces recorded after the main symphony; a piece of original spoken word poetry by actor Beau Bridges, and two new versions of traditional Haitian songs: "Yo-Yo" performed by jazz great Arturo Sandoval alongside Mike Lang and Bart Samolis, and "Yellow Bird", performed in a classic Hollywood vocal style by singer Lucy Schwartz, accompanied by her father, composer and pianist David Schwartz.
A Symphony of Hope: The Haiti Project is clearly one of the most important film music-related albums released in 2011. Not only is the music sensational, and not only does the album give listeners the opportunity to hear the combined musical efforts of 25 of Hollywood's greatest composing talents coming together for a common cause, but the driving force behind the whole project is one which everyone can stand behind as being worthy of support and financial contribution. I urge everyone to buy the A Symphony of Hope: The Haiti Project soundtrack. Every single penny of every copy of the album sold goes directly to Hands Together to help the people of Haiti. You won't regret it.
The symphony is 5 movements and was constructed as a flowing quilt, each composer contributing their own voice to the project. When one composer finished their part they would pass it along to the next to continue. The finished product is a beautiful representation of the journey that Haiti's people have taken in overcoming natural disaster. It reflects the strength of the people and their ability to rise through everything they had to overcome. The central motif is based off of a traditional Haitian melody and it serves as the grounding aspect of the symphony. The music takes us through the devastation of the earthquake and the immediate aftermath, but we move out of the darkness in movements 4 and 5 to embrace light at the end of the tunnel. The music heard here is pure human beauty and it represents the best of what's within us. The arrangements are magnificent and the chorus adds the human voice to support it. While 25 composers worked on this it truly feels as one unified voice. The careful ear will be able to pick up certain styles throughout, but even I had trouble discerning who did what. It really is a testament to their collaboration how amazing it all turned out.
A Symphony Of Hope was written for Haiti, but it's such a universal human journey that its message will echo forever. All proceeds from this album go directly to Haiti as these composers all contributed to it on their own free time. Please take the time to purchase this amazing album and go on a truly magnificent journey while helping in the process. A Symphony Of Hope is an example of the true power of music, and this historic symphony should be treasured by everyone all over the world for music is the universal language. I was honored to have seen this symphony performed live; it was a magical experience.
The Composers: Nathan Barr, Tyler Bates, Jeff Beal, Christophe Beck, Bruce Broughton, George S. Clinton, Elia Cmiral, Don Davis, John Debney, Randy Edelman, Andrew Gross, Dave Grusin, Marvin Hamlisch, David Kitay, Christopher Lennertz, Deborah Lurie, Lisbeth Scott, Pete Seibert, Theodore Shapiro, Ed Shearmur, John Swihart, Brian Tyler, Michael Wandmacher, Timothy Michael Wynn and Christopher Young.