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Michael, the Bulwark: An Interview with Marcello Appignani

Please tell us about the projects you worked on before making ‘Michael, the Bulwark’. How did you start, and how did you learn to make films?

R: I am an Italian composer, graduated in Composition at Conservatory of Music and member of SIMC (Italian Society of Contemporary Music), so I can talk about my experience as author of soundtracks. I have been writing music for many years, especially for theater and cinema, and among the film soundtracks, I can mention my works for the short film L’attesa (finalist at the Giffoni Film Festival, the Kracow Film Festival and the Miami Next Generation, director Giuseppe La Rosa) and the film Riturnella by Francesca Garcea, awarded by critics at the Salerno Film Festival.

Tell us about ‘Michael, the Bulwark’. How do you describe it?

R: Michele, il baluardo (Michael, the Bulwark) born from a complex project started a long time ago, when, in 2003, I was commissioned to create the soundtrack for a visual arts exhibition entitled "Angels". Last year, on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary, I felt the need to take up and revise that score written for choir, orchestra and electronics and enrich it with four brand new pieces dedicated to the four main archangels: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel. I wrote this new music for a trio consisting of me on piano, harpsichord, guitar and organ, Giuliana Jurado Elena Bonomi on violin and Maria Sofia Rinaldi on cello. These tracks are hooked up to the original project, creating the concept album Angeli – Nuove apparizioni (Angels – New Apparitions) published by MEP – Music Ensemble Publishing and recently released in both the digital and physical versions (CD). Michele, il baluardo, directed by Davide Curatolo, represents the videoclip of one of the four new songs.

Please tell us about your favorite filmmakers.

R: In general I like directors who pay particular attention to acting and music. Good films are often ruined by the lack of artistic sensitivity towards the soundtrack. There are many directors I pay particular attention to: Kubrik, Besson, Hitchcock, Anderson, Campion, Scott and, among my countrymen, Sorrentino, Muccino, Leone, Tornatore and others.

If you were given a good budget, what would be your ideal project?

R: My ideal project is to compose a soundtrack for a film inspired by a historical or horror literary work. Something that allows me to express my ability to interpret emotions through music, as I am often recognized.

Describe how you would ensure that production is on schedule. What steps would you take?

R: Writing music for movies is always an exciting journey. When I’m "kidnapped" by a project I can work even with tight deadlines. First of all, I would study the screenplay and talk to the director to really understand his vision. The rest comes by itself.

What was the hardest part of making ‘Michael, the Bulwark’?

R: Find the location. I had several opportunities. Ancient and evocative churches in Rome with pipe organs had given me the okay to shoot. Unfortunately, this was not possible due to problems with the Vicariate. In the end, the municipality of Narni - the town that inspired the famous novels and films The Chronicles of Narnia - came to our aid and made the Auditorium in the beautiful medieval church of San Domenico available to us, which however does not have the organ. This lack (violin and cello can be carried everywhere) was crucial and difficult to overcome. Then the screenwriter Daniela Ariano had - in my opinion - the stroke of genius of making us "angels" who play invisible instruments.

If possible, tell us about your next work. What plans do you have for your future work?

R: I'm finalizing a deal for a feature film soundtrack. In the meantime, I am working on two new projects: a collection of music for piano trio (violin, cello and piano) and a short opera for ensemble, soprano, contralto and baritone inspired by Strindberg's The Pelican which will debut in Lucca (Tuscany) next October. Well, it would be nice to make a film version of that with sets, costumes, etc. We will see!


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