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Libby O’Loghlin talks to a man who gets to wear a Star Trek uniform to work
Ludiwig Wicki grew up on a farm in Kanton Luzern, where he began his musical life playing the trumpet and trombone.
Wicki travels widely as Founder and Conductor of the 21st Century Symphony Orchestra, a 150-piece orchestra and choir, acclaimed for their ‘Live to Projection’ performances with movies such as Lord of the Rings, Gladiator, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Star Trek.
Tell us a little bit about what being a conductor involves.
As conductor, I lead a big group of strong individuals and very good musicians through a musical score. That means I show them the way. They have the music, and they need someone who can give them the tempo and coordinate things. I’m a coordinator and a creator, and I can shape the music. When I conduct very flat and boring, and then the concert will be boring. When I give passion and tension, or go forward and backward to make it lively, then the orchestra go with me and the audience experience that.
It’s also the job of the conductor to prepare the music properly, to hear what’s wrong, to find problems, solve them, to keep the musicians working, practising properly. Sometimes you have to be a bit direct, to give them deadlines. That’s the game.
What attracted you to film projects in the beginning?
The film music! I love it. Often the music is for me more impressive than the film. If you come from that direction, you can see that our first dream (as the 21st Century Orchestra) was to perform film music live, as music.
In fact, that was the idea at the beginning. Then we [with Pirmin Zängerle, business partner] discovered Lord of the Rings and through that we came to the idea of screening complete films with live soundtracks. That’s special. There are the two mediums and also the challenge to bring so many things together: the score, choir, orchestra, and the film … all this, it’s a very special moment.
People often think film music is not as good as concert music but that’s not true. When you take the film out, a lot of pieces work on their own, and are very good compositions.
I attended the first performance of Star Trek in Luzern in April this year and was blown away by the power of the choir and orchestra’s performance. To what do you attribute the power of live performance with film? Is it any different than, say, downloading a film from iTunes?
Yes, yes! It’s much different. That’s the luck we have with this kind of project. First of all, you hear the music much more in front of the movie; in the movie itself, the director and mixer often take down the music because they love special effects and dialogue. But we care about the music, and that means that often the music is extremely powerful, and Continue reading