Music can make a movie. The right choice of music in a film can reduce you to tears in the first quiver of a carefully placed violin string.
At this year’s Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow, composer Craig Armstrong showed how music can complement the silver screen. His concert at the city’s Royal Concert Hall displayed his compositions against a backdrop of the movies his works have featured in.
Armstrong is the man Baz Luhrmann calls upon to wave a magical musical wand over Hollywood blockbusters such as Romeo and Juliet, Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby.
As we watched film clips and listened to Armstrong playing piano accompanied by Scottish Opera’s Orchestra, he took time out to highlight other talented musicians, such as Clio Gould who played violin on The Great Gatsby.
Other films featured were The Quiet American and Peter Mullen’s Orphans as well as Oliver Stone’s The World Trade Center with cellist Alison Lawrance performing solo.
Films scores withstanding, Armstrong has his own works, with collaborations throughout the years including Jerry Burns and Elizabeth Fraser. His latest album, the sublime It’s Nearly Tomorrow, includes vocals from Jerry Burns, who also joined him on stage during this Celtic Connections performance.
And when the songstress took to the stage, there was an air of anticipation. Burns seemed slightly nervous during This Love, taken from album The Space Between Us, but when she sung Dust from It’s Nearly Tomorrow, she was totally at ease and it was truly magical.
Another highlight of the night was Love and Money’s James Grant who performed a cover version of Nat King Cole’s Nature Boy, a song which was used in Moulin Rouge! Grant’s version rumbled with a deep soulful timbre scaling the heights to a cinematic explosion. The effect was out of a James Bond movie – think classic Shirley Bassey sending shivers up the spine with her 007 signature themes.
Jerry Burns and James Grant also collaborated on Powder from It’s Nearly Tomorrow, their very different voices complementing each other.
Vocalists Katie O’Halloran and Lucia Fontaine also shone on One Day I’ll Fly Away and Crash.
Setting music to film also played a part at the Glasgow Film Festival, during an evening entitled A Night At The Regal, held at Glasgow’s 02 ABC.