It’s not a very well kept secret that Mr. Wilson’s is made up of a mighty team of independent artists. Musicians, composers, arrangers, outdoor artists, theatre makers, painters, teachers and at least one joiner; we’ve got so many skills in-house it almost sounds like we’re making it up.
So with that in mind we thought we’d share with you some of the other projects the crew are working on, when they aren’t raving it up in the streets.
First up, we’ve cornered Chris Davies (aka Mr Pink/Papa Cheese) to tell us about his labour of love, ‘The Adventures of Prince Achmed’.
Chris was first commissioned by the National Media Museum to compose an original new score for the groundbreaking animated film, ‘The Adventures of Prince Achmed’ for the opening night of the Bradford Animation Festival 2014. With Grants for the Arts funding from Arts Council England, Chris has gone on to develop the work into a successful international touring production.
Lotte Reiniger’s beautiful 1926 silhouette animation brings to life magical tales from the ‘Arabian Nights’. The earliest surviving animated feature film – preserved in the BFI National Archive – it has been hailed as one of the world’s most innovative and influential animations. Three years in production and made in card cut entirely by hand, Reiniger’s exquisite shadow characters move intricately through colourful worlds of demons, witches, beautiful princesses and flying castles. It is truly stunning and Chris’s music has been described by audience’s as “…the soul of the film.”
We asked him a few questions about making and performing the work…
Chris, how were you first introduced to the film and what were your first impressions of it?
“I was asked by Jen Skinner who was then the Film Education Officer at the National Media Museum in Bradford, if I would be interested in re-scoring the music for ‘The Adventures of Prince Achmed’ for the opening night of the Bradford Animation Festival 2014. I was overwhelmed by the original orchestration and at 65 minutes running time it seemed a mammoth task for a one-off event. Then I started watching it with the sound off and musical ideas started to flow. What sounds take you to the Caliph’s Palace? Are conjured up by encounter with an African Sorcerer? Carry you to adventures in China and the mystical Spirit Island of WAK WAK..?(The film’s) so rich in atmosphere and I’d fallen completely in love with the beautiful animation skills of Lotte Reiniger and knew there were possibilities of touring with the film in the future.”
How long did it take to compose all the music and is this the first time you’ve scored accompaniment for film?
“It took 4 months to compose. The performance is a mixture of live and recorded music. I recorded tracks which I trigger using a software program called QLab, so sometimes the sound is very full with lots of layers then it fades to just a single instrument, so the sound world is expanding and contracting throughout the film. 26 instruments are played live. My music has been used for short video’s but this was my first full length film. I’ve been working for over 30 years writing and performing music for visual theatre and dance, creating atmosphere with sound. This experience was really useful in following the journey of Prince Achmed.”
Where have you taken the project so far and where would you like to go next?
“It feels like interest is growing!! Most performances have been in the UK but at the end of last year I went to Madrid and Barcelona and this year started with a performance for the Pharos Arts Foundation in Nicosia, Cyprus. Up coming performances are in Liverpool, Blackpool, Tiree, Mull, Lancaster, Hereford, and London. My dream is to perform with the film being projected onto the Alhambra Palace in Granada! It’s a warm evening, the sun has just set and a crescent moon is rising in the darkening sky…..roll the film.”
If you haven’t already seen Chris’s performance, you can see the trailer here. If you want to catch the film this year, keep an eye on The Prince Achmed website for dates and The Prince Achmed Facebook Page.