A featured ‘Footnote’
Composer Amit Poznansky adapts his film score for the IPO Season
A still from “Footnote.” Lior Ashkenazi (left) and Shlomo Bar-Aba (right).
Only one of the pieces the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra will play to launch its 2017-18 Season in Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Jerusalem will also be performed in every city on the Fall U.S. Tour.
It is Amit Poznansky‘s Footnote Suite for Orchestra, freshly adapted by the 43-year-old Israeli composer from his full-length score. Footnote, writer-director Joseph Cedar‘s 2011 film about estranged father-and-son Talmud scholars, earned Israel’s Ophir Award for Best Picture, the Best Screenplay Award at Cannes, an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Film, and Best Original Score at the 2013 Samobor Film Music Festival for Poznansky.
It has now earned him a prominent IPO debut.
“A couple years ago I was contacted by members of the Israel Philharmonic who asked to consider the score of Footnote for performance,” Poznansky recently said by phone from the Tel Aviv home he shares with his wife and two teenage children.
The music, which had only been performed when the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra recorded it for the film, was scored only “for brass, woodwind and strings.”
“It was not for a full orchestra,” he said. “So I arranged a suite for them to review, like a medley of the main themes from the movie and edited that, scored it for the orchestra, and sent it to them. I think they have kind of a jury that picks the new pieces and they all voted for it, then brought it to Maestro Zubin Mehta, who liked the piece and wanted to conduct it in the opening of the season.”
THE ROAD TO ‘FOOTNOTE’
Back in 2010, Joseph Cedar had contacted Poznansky (pictured right) on the recommendation of Footnote‘s sound designer, Alex Claude. Before they met, the composer recorded a demo with some musical ideas. Good enough to win the job, it is now a bonus track on the soundtrack CD.
Footnote‘s storyline, set against a backdrop of reverence for ancient texts and driven by a bitter generational conflict both personal and professional, is leavened by sections of visual comedy. It offered the perfect canvas for a composer with classical music talents.
For temporary tracks, Cedar had chosen music by Russian composer Alfred Schnittke.
“The Schnittke provided general direction of a neo-classic modern score with harshness. It combined tonal with modern, more dissonant music. But most of my inspiration was from the characters, the story, and the film itself,” he said. “I felt very much free to come up with my own ideas and voice.”
After four months of intense composing he had enough to show Cedar, who “really embraced the music and we continued step-by-step until we had the final score.”
A NATURAL TALENT
Poznansky, the son of an aircraft industry union leader and an amateur clarinetist who taught literature and Hebrew, began playing piano at the age of 10. He had classical piano training through the age of 17, but didn’t see himself as a pianist-performer.
“I wanted to be a composer, arranger, and orchestrator, and really just taught myself,” he said. “I started to write chamber music scores when I was 15. One of my first was a sextet that I finished and recorded at 17.”
At 21, after four years of compulsory military service, he spent the next 15 years working as a performer-arranger at The Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv. His only professional training, on a visit to Los Angeles in 2009, would be a seminar on film orchestration by Steven Scott Smalley, best known for orchestrating Jerry Goldsmith’s scores.
Following the success of Footnote he has worked on numerous feature films, including Assi Dayan’s Doctor Pomerantz and Shira Geffen’s Self Made, as well as the Israeli TV series “Hatufim,” directed by “Homeland” creator Gideon Raff.
A FATHER, SON AND GRANDSON
Being included in the IPO season, however, may be the greatest honor, and one especially meaningful for the grandson of “an amateur conductor in Poland.”
“My father’s father, Jakob Poznansky, was a holocaust survivor and when he came to Israel he didn’t work in music, but music was his life. He introduced me to classical music, and some of my main influences came from him.
“I am extremely honored that my Footnote Suite will be performed by the IPO under the baton of Maestro Zubin Mehta,” he continued. “It is truly a dream come true to be played alongside some of the greatest composers in classical music history. I’m immensely grateful.”