CULTURE & ARTS
09/10/2014 12:52 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

La Dolce Musica: The New Season of the New York Philharmonic Opens With a Unique Selection of Music From Italian Films

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Photo courtesy of Sugarmusic.

The Philharmonic's 2014-15 season is opening on September 16 with "La Dolce Vita: The Music of Italian Cinema." Presented in collaboration with Sugarmusic, the concert will be conducted by Music Director Alan Gilbert; feature violinist Joshua Bell, soprano Renée Fleming, and singer/songwriter/actor Josh Groban; and include video projection combining animated graphics and film clips designed by visual artist Giuseppe Ragazzini, under the direction of Giampiero Solari.

"La Dolce Vita: The Music of Italian Cinema" celebrates the lush and iconic scores from some of Italy's greatest films with music. The program will feature suites and famous songs, many newly arranged and orchestrated by music consultant William Ross, from Academy Award-winning films including Federico Fellini's 8½ and La Dolce Vita; Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West; Roberto Benigni's Life Is Beautiful; and Giuseppe Tornatore's Cinema Paradiso. The Opening Gala Concert will also feature the Overtures from Rossini's The Barber of Seville and William Tell. La Dolce Vita: The Music of Italian Cinema utilizes historical footage from Istituto Luce Cinecittà; for the program's creation, the renowned Italian record label based in Milan, Sugarmusic made available its catalog of more than 2,000 Italian film soundtracks.

I met the man behind "La Dolce Vita: The Music of Italian Cinema," Filippo Sugar, a few months ago in New York. He truly believes "that the music to be performed is exceptional, and this will be an opportunity for the American audience to hear , and discover, in one concert, extraordinary gems that composers have written over their phenomenal careers. All of their most beautiful pieces, one after the other in a crescendo will impress the audience and ignite new interest in these artists and their work."

I asked Mr. Sugar about how he felt working with a celebrated master like William Ross, who arranged the music for the concert with Sugarmusic Projects. "Working with Bill is a gift. He's not only incredibly talented; he is also a wonderful person. We've worked together on many projects of Andrea Bocelli in the past, and I always was a great admirer of his work on film music. In this project, he took the task of creating arrangements and orchestrations with incredible enthusiasm. He went back and watched every single movie more than once, and created marvelous musical suites that really showcase the best melodies and atmospheres."

The evening program is not just musical, but also includes visual displays that will enhance the music, to describe the effect Mr. Sugar explains "the visuals that will be projected in the background have the goal of 'accompanying' the audience through memories and images that make the connection with the movie and the atmospheres of the films. We wanted to establish a clear connection between each musical piece and the movie for which it was written. So basically every piece has a clip mostly made up of original animations that give the music a visual companion. We've also used a few original clips and some rare historical footage, given by the Istituto Luce Cinecittà. Giuseppe Ragazzini, who designed all the original animations, and Giampiero Solari who scripted the clips worked for more than a year to put this together. It wasn't easy, but I think the result really contributes to making this show special and unique. There is nothing like this that I know of. This being said, make no mistake: the protagonist of the show is the music, the orchestra and the performers. The visuals will just enhance this experience."

"There's so much great music written for film, and to hear it played live by the New York Philharmonic is an amazing experience," New York Philharmonic's Music Director Alan Gilbert said, "The best film music is expressive and dramatic, which are the qualities that you look for all the time in music. The chance to make it come alive and paint pictures for the audiences is something I relish and love."

I cannot wait.