Saturday, 13 September 2014

Music for the Crusades

The Soundtrack for EWTN’s new Crusades documentary and its recording

The soundtrack for the new EWTN documentary on the Crusades in an entirely new recording and the tracks are original pieces of music specifically composed for this documentary. Some traditional hymns and Gregorian Chants have been given new musical arrangements, using the traditional Latin texts of course. The director Marek Polacek, the cameraman/editor Michal Benko and myself all believe that the soundtrack makes up at least 20% of the impact of a documentary. So it was very important to get this right.

During my visit to TV Lux of Bratislava in October 2013 Marek and I met with conductor Zuzana Buchová Holičková, who was also the representative of the composer Mária Jašurdová and the choir Chorus Salvatoris. I can’t read music myself but we had a number of pieces of music and ideas we wanted to get across and had a number of Gregorian chants on a laptop and played them to her. So hoping desperately that I was making sense I gave her a list of pieces including a Latin Mass


Chorus Salvatoris recording the soundtrack for The Crusades
For the opening theme which has become to be known as Hail Holy Queen of Christendom we wanted a piece of dynamic but at the same time spiritual music. It had to reflect the main field of operation for the Crusades, the Holy Land, and the hot deserts, it also needed to express the spiritual side of the Crusades, of repentance, of pilgrimage, of service and of sacrifice – the themes of this documentary. The Crusaders were fighting for Christendom, Our Lady represents the Church, she is our mother and she nurtures us and the Crusaders in turn wanted to protect her. We wanted a desert type theme with a drum beat with an ethereal female voice to float above it all as the prayer of Christendom, the Hail Holy Queen. Revel’s Bolero was used as a starting point and the Latin prayer/hymn to Our Lady as the text. Of course I didn’t just want a straightforward Bolario and the Salve Regina said over the top that would be silly. But often composers use other pieces of music as launch pads for a new and innovative pieces so perhaps she could do this for us. After all George Lucas of the Star Wars films really wanted the theme tune of 633 squadron for his film and asked the composer John Williams to come up with his own 633 squadron which became the Star Wars theme. We are really pleased with the result, the composer did a suburb job with a wonderful piece of music better than we could have hoped for. The only professional singer in the entire recording, the soprano Hilda Gulyásová was hired to sing the lead part and what a beautiful voice she has too.

Soprano Hilda Gulyazova recording Hail Holy Queen of Christendom

The sound engineer at Lux Miro Šibík is also a composer he has composed a number of wonderful pieces and played and recorded them via a synthesizer and has really achieved some great orchestral effects. Special thanks is also extended to the other sound engineer at Lux Martin Noris for recording my narration, also to Alan Lewis at Glass Studios in England. Our thanks also goes out especially to music director Lukáš Borzík and conductor Zuzana Buchová Holičková and to all the members of the choir the musicians to the soloists. Photos Marek Polacek.

Its not all hard work

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