Debney and Music of Horner Highlight 5th Transatlantyk Fest

Music of James Horner was featured at the opening gala performance by the Transatlantyk Symphony Orchestra, led by Monika Wolińska, along with the Poznan Chamber Choir conducted by Bartosz Michałowski. (Photo by Julian Redondo Bueno)

Music of James Horner was featured at the opening gala performance by the Transatlantyk Symphony Orchestra, led by Monika Wolińska, along with the Poznan Chamber Choir conducted by Bartosz Michałowski. (Photo by Julian Redondo Bueno)

Music of James Horner was featured at the opening gala performance by the Transatlantyk Symphony Orchestra, led by Monika Wolińska, along with the Poznan Chamber Choir conducted by Bartosz Michałowski. (Photo by Julian Redondo Bueno)

Festival creator and executive director Jan Kaczmarek with guest composer John Debney (Photo by Ray Costa)

Young Composer winner Andrea Grant of Italy accepts his award backed by John Debney. (Photo by Julian Redondo Bueno)

The 5th Annual Transatlantyk Film Festival held in Poznan, Poland wrapped to critical acclaim. The festival — founded by Oscar-winning composer Jan A.P. Kaczmarek to gather creative professionals in his native Poland — celebrated film and music, August 7-14.

Opening night featured the world’s first tribute concert to honor the memory of composer James Horner, whose June death in a plane crash triggered industry-wide mourning.  Led by Monika Wolińska, along with the Poznan Chamber Choir conducted by Bartosz Michałowski, Horner’s scores were played from many of his films including Titanic (with solo vocals by Barbara Gutaj from the Poznan Opera), Avatar and Apollo 13.  The organizers also remembered Jan Kulczyk, a businessman and longtime friend of the Transatlantyk Festival. To honor his memory, the orchestra performed Kaczmarek’s original composition, “Interlude.”

Guests arriving at the festival strolled down a “green” carpet, representing the festival’s commitment to the environment.

The eight day festival drew established and up-and-coming artists from around the world, representing a full spectrum of film and music professionals. Master classes from artists explaining their process included screenwriter writer/director Shem Bitterman and actor/director Joe Pantoliano. The festival took place throughout Poznan, but all roads led to Freedom Square which housed the popular outdoor “Bed Cinema” installation, complete with 200 queen size beds with canopies and drapes.  Next door was the “Silent Disco,” where three DJs spun three entirely different styles of music and headphone wearing guests changed channels to dance to their music of choice.  Another crowd-pleaser, Culinary Cinema, featured an award-winning local chef creating a multi-course meal inspired by the featured film of the night.

The festival also included two “Talking Piano” performances. Moderated by British presenter Tim Burden, the first featured music supervisor/composer Curt Sobel discussing his work including the Oscar-winning Ray (year); the second was a career retrospective with composer John Debney discussing his music with highlights including Elf, Cutthroat Island, and his Oscar-nominated score to Passion of The Christ. John Debney’s connection with Poznan and Kaczmarek far precedes the festival.  Debney’s grandfather was born in Poznan and the two have been Hollywood colleagues as well as friendly competitors over the years (Kaczmarek’s  score for the 2004 film Finding Neverland won the Academy Award for Best Original Score, beating Debney’s nominated Passion of The Christ.

Kaczmarek, who executive produces the Transatlantyk Festival, explained his “glocal — global meets local” vision.” I believe in a world where its strength is born from human thought and exchange of our energy, from the collision of ideas and from creative inspiration that is based on them.  A brave world, in which – following the words of Professor Spivak – we will be able to build the new man in openness and respect for the individual’s right to be different and unique.”

The Closing Gala at the UAM Concert Hall featured several awards including Transatlantyk Audience Award for best film which went to Slow West, written and directed by John McClane. Closing night also recognized the winner of the Transatlantyk Instant Composition Contest, a young female composer from Poland, Aleksandra Chmielewska. The Transatlantyk Film Music Competition winner was Andrea Grant of Italy. The evening also featured the Polish quartet Kwadrofonik — which combines piano and percussion — interpreting pieces created by the biggest composers of the 20th century, and a performance by Aleksander Dębicz, who presented the material from his debut album, CinematicPiano.

Kaczmarek announced that Debney’s The Passion Symphony will be performed as part of the festival in 2016,  the year that commemorates the 1050 anniversary of Christianity in Poland.

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