Second Panel / Tan Dun Concert / Late Night Reception

Dan Poland (2010)

The second panel, “Promoting Film Music” was to be hosted by Doug Adams, but unfortunately he was sick and unable to make the trip to Poland. Nancy Knutsen stepped in, and the panel was a bit freeform, with the topics ranging from soundtrack publicity, to websites, to music festivals and concerts.  The last half hour was especially interesting,when one of the gentlemen in the audience got into a rather heated debate (all in Polish) with a few members of the panel – and audience – regarding the lack of subsidies and sponsorships for the film music festivals.  It was all done in a rapid-fire way, and our amazing translator Piotr was whispering a real-time translation to us as it was all happening.  (Apparently Piotr used to translate for the Polish Prime Minister, and was even involved in translating during the missile defense negotiations!) After a while, Nancy wrested control of the panel back, and we finished up on a cordial note.

We had about two hours before we were to be taken to the Tadeusz Sendzimir Steelworks for the Tan Dun concert, so I decided to catch a quick nap.  It had started to rain pretty hard, too, so that was a soothing sound that lulled me into a quick sleep.  I woke up around 7:45pm, 30 minutes before we were supposed to be picked up. I was downstairs at 8:10, and no one was there.  A few minutes later, Nancy showed up, and then Robert.  And we waited. And waited.  And waited.  Around 8:30, a little perplexed that no one had shown up yet (the concert was due to start at 9pm), Nancy called the head of the festival and we soon discovered that a driver miscommunication had resulted in each of the two drivers thinking that the other one had us in his car.  Whoops.  A new car was quickly dispatched, and we finally made it to the concert a little late, a few minutes into the first piece.

The Tan Dun concert was held in a giant factory workshop floor that had been converted for entertainment use. It’s a bizarre merging of old Communist industrial design (this used to be the “Lenin Factory”), and Western showbiz staging.  But, with such a large space, heat is virtually non-existant. Suffice it to say that at the next two concerts, I’ll be a little more prepared!

The music itself was excellent; Tan Dun played a selection from his new “Youtube Symphony”, followed by an extended concerto of music from Hero, and then The Banquet.  Full orchestra and choir, with the last sequence featuring famed Polish pianist Leszek Mozdzer.  As an encore, Mozdzer did an amazing on-the-fly improv interpretation of music from Hero on the piano, which was phenomenal to see.  After the concert, we went backstage to relax in the green room with some coffee, at which point we met up with Howard Shore.  We then joined Tan Dun in a lively conversation, before all cramming back into the cars to take us to the hotel for a reception.

It’s always interesting and amusing to see a composer’s reaction when their own music starts playing on the radio; in this particular case, music from The Departed began playing while we were driving back to the hotel, and it even took Howard by surprise. Hehe.

At the hotel, we joined a large group of guests for some drinks and nibbles. This was effectively a late-night dinner, and there was much conversation flowing with Howard Shore, Tan Dun, and Shigeru Umebayashi.  Peter (the translator) had brought a bottle of his own special homemade infusion liquor (black currant flavored), which he had intended to gift to Doug Adams, but since Doug couldn’t make it, we all drank shots on his behalf. While quite effective and tasty, the infusion reminded me a bit of cough medicine!  Soon the party whittled down as people headed off to bed, and I decided to call it a night around 2am.