The Classic FM Orchestra interpreted great songs from the movies under the baton of Hollywood legend Conrad Pope. “You can’t close your heart to the music,” he said in Sofia

Love for entertainment, for the peaceful life in the small communities in America, for the person, closest to our hearts, for our parents, for adventures, for friends, for the challenges in life… There was so much love we lived with the Hollywood Comes to Sofia concert of the Classic FM Orchestra conducted by one of the greatest masters of the Mecca of the Movies – Conrad Pope. We listened to compositions by Richard Whiting, Aaron Copland, John Barry, John Williams, Erich Korngold, and Conrad Pope himself. These pieces were from the soundtracks of Hollywood Hotel, Our Town, Out of Africa, My Week with Marilyn, Harry Potter, The Sea Hawk, Jaws, Pavilion of Women, Star Wars, E.T. As Conrad Pope said in an on-stage interview, the talented musicians from the Classic FM Orchestra did not just present musical masterpieces, they made the films, playing music from them. This event held on the 30th of January at the Bulgaria Hall was from The Music of America concert series, presented by the Cantus Firmus music agency and the America for Bulgaria foundation.

“When we started The Music of America series, we had three main goals that we aimed to achieve – to present the best of Bulgarian and world art, to meet the audience with renowned artists and talented future stars, but most of all – to ignite the spark of love for music and art in the hearts of the young people. Six years later we can say we have been successful in that,” said Desislava Talyokova, Executive Director of the America for Bulgaria foundation. The questionaires that the listeners fill in, reveal that more than half of the audience is new and young. “It is incredible to see the rise of this young force. We are thankful to the fantastic orchestra of talented musicians – the Classic FM Orchestra. We thank most of all Vasil Dimitrov and his team – a good idea can never come to fruition without the work of dedicated people, full of energy, with clear vision, people who are not discouraged by hardships – and we know how many these obstacles can be. We thank you so much, the members of the audience, as you give meaning to what we do,” Desislava Talyokova said.

“We wish you a year with more opportunities to listen to live music. The America for Bulgaria foundation makes it possible for these concerts to take place, for this orchestra to play for you,” Vasil Dimitrov, Executive Director of the Cantus Firmus music agency, expressed his gratitude. It has become a tradition for The Music of America series to present each season a concert with music from the silver screen. “Conrad Pope is an arranger, composer and conductor who is responsible for some of the greatest Hollywood films from the past 20 years – his soul, hands and heart touched the scores of Star Wars, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, King Kong, The Matrix, and many others. What a great person will conduct this orchestra tonight,” Vasil Dimitrov said, introducing us to the magic that followed in the next two hours.

„It is very easy to have a passion for both music and cinema,” Conrad Pope explained about discovering and nurturing his passion for both. “What is special for cinema to me is its emotional content. Often when you are telling a story you need to convey the emotion, or the excitement, or the great love of someone or something. That’s what music always does. It allows us to explore many other emotions – sadness, great love, and love that has been lost,” the conductor said in an interview by Svetoslav Nikolov between the pieces.

“The magic is always in the story,” Conrad Pope said, talking about the art of writing music for the cinema: “Many years ago I did not believe as a student that music was a universal language. Over the past 30 years, working in film, I now see that film music has become a universal language. When you go to the movies, you can certainly close your eyes but you can never close your ears. I just know that you can probably tell what the story is from the music, and therefore you can’t close your heart to the music either.”

Music is the invisible main character in cinema, and it was so visually presented by the Classic FM Orchestra, conducted by Conrad Pope. “It’s very easy in Bulgaria,” the musician exclaimed. “The Classic FM Orchestra – they speak music, they make music with emotion, they have great feeling, they are a great film orchestra, great orchestra for the invisible in film – which is what we really care about tonight. Because we are having all these movies made by this orchestra,” he praised the Classic FM Orchestra for their musical talent.

Conrad Pope has composed the music to episodes of The Matrix, Harry Potter, Home Alone; to My Week with Marilyn, Pavilion of Women, The Mexican, Stuart Little, The Mouse Hunt, Patriot Games. He is the author of additional music for Troy, and has orchestrated and conducted the score of Hobbit. He has orchestrated the music of episodes of Star Wars, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, A Night at the Museum, Star Trek, Jurassic Park, X-Men, as well as Julie and Julia, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Bobby, Flight Plan, King Kong, Memoires of a Geisha, War of the Worlds, Munich, The Legend of Zorro, Polar Express, Peter Pan, Sleepy Hollow, What Women Want, Amistad… He has collaborated with John Williams, Danny Elfman, Hans Zimmer, Alan Silvestri, Mark Isham, Howard Shore, Alexandre Desplat and many others.

“Art endures and art endures across many lives. It’s the gift of the past to us, now in the present. What we do today is what our legacy will be with those we leave behind. And when I see children here, in the audience, that is what is the most important thing about art, this is what makes everything current,” Conrad Pope described art as we celebrate it.

Art supports us, as we support it: “You have some of the finest musicians in the world. Your musicians to Bulgaria are what oil is to Saudi Arabia. You have a great natural resource above ground, and you should support them so they stay that way. I will be recommending to my colleagues that they seek out Bulgaria as a place to make music,” with these words in the on-stage interview by Svetosalav Nikolov, and with yet another beautiful piece of music from the silver screen, Conrad Pope said goodbye to the Bulgarian audience.

Until we meet again.

Photos by Yanko Dimitrov (where noted) and Zafer Galibov (the rest)