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Caballe-Domenech and the philharmonic sets sail with Disney's 'Pirates'

By: David Sckolnik, Special to The Gazette
May 8, 2014 Updated: May 9, 2014 at 12:14 pm
photo - Colorado Springs Philharmonic music director Josep Caball?Domenech. Photo courtesy David Sckolnik.
Colorado Springs Philharmonic music director Josep Caball?Domenech. Photo courtesy David Sckolnik. 

As always traveling with his wife, Monica, and 2-year-old son Marc, Colorado Springs Philharmonic music director Josep Caballe-Domenech is back in town to conduct the last two concerts of the 2013-2014 season.

First up, he'll try his hand at leading the orchestra in the dark as they provide the orchestral fireworks for a screening of the 2003 Disney classic "Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl."

Truly a world traveler, the 41-year-old Spaniard has been exceptionally busy this season as he added the position of general music director of Germany's Staatskapelle Halle orchestra and opera to his commitments.

Gazette: How is our orchestra doing?

Caballe-Domenech: I think we have achieved a quite good cruise altitude. There are moments that are very nice and there will be some turbulence. The orchestra knows me - I know the orchestra and we are working on what we have to. ... After many years there will be a landing and I hope that it will smooth.

Q: I've talked to a number of the philharmonic musicians about you. The first thing they say is "he makes us work really hard." There's also a sense that they kind of fear you. Is that a good thing?

A: Probably, yes. I think that has to do with not only your status but the job you are doing. If you demand of people, they have to do their best. There's a certain fear there.

Q: Three years ago, you had never had an orchestra of your own. These days you have two and an opera company. Why the change?

A: I got offers of being music director before. But I think a conductor needs a certain age to process things. It's not just about conducting Beethoven (Symphony) "5" correctly. It's not about having a vision that this orchestra will be better in two years. When you are music director, it's like being the head of your family - there are other things you have to do. And you are working with very special people in a very special situation.

Q: Why did you think you were ready for the job here?

A: It's something that you feel. ... You cannot go and just make a decision because you want to. People have to feel that you made this decision honestly and that you are ready. And for that, you need a certain age. I know that today's world goes in the other direction - the younger you are the better you are.

And if we can have a music director who is 12, we already will be great. But I'm the other way. I think a real conductor is after you are 70 or 75. You cannot know Beethoven "5" if you've conducted it three times. Even if you have conducted it 20 times you don't know Beethoven "5." Sorry, that's how it is. Time changes things so your picture is not the same when you are 20, 40 or 60.

Q: This weekend you'll be a great distance from Beethoven when you lead the orchestra in the complete score from the first of Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise. Have you done film-synch performances before?

A: Yes, I've done it.

Q: This is a very popular movie with a musical score composed by Klaus Badelt and Hans Zimmer. This is not great music. It is designed to be of service to the images and storyline of the film.

A: All live music is great. Many people think they know music because they have lots of CDs in their collection. I don't think that's what it's about. It's about an experience. Answering your question about the film - it's not great music. But how does it work when you go to the cinema? The way it impacts is by putting the music very loud. OK, I would like to see the same film with the music a little bit less and then see what the impact will be. And you would be amazed that a lot of people probably won't like the film then. A real orchestra playing live will always impact you - it's a physical thing. Even people who know this film and have seen it many times, they will see it in a different way.

Q: Do you have to spend the same amount of energy getting ready for "Curse of the Black Pearl" as you do for Mahler's "Symphony No. 6?"

A: Of course. There is no limit. I get the score, I learn it and then I put myself in the position of "what can I do to bring this to the audience the best we can?" It's always the same.

Q: Do you hear other composers in this score?

A: There is lots of Mahler there, some (Richard) Strauss as well. Very much like a John Williams score.

Q: Wagner, Prokofiev, Hindemith?

A: All of them are there.


"Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl"

Who: The Colorado Springs Philharmonic and conductor Josep Caballe-Domenech

When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Where: Pikes Peak Center, 190 S. Cascade Ave.

Tickets: $12-$59; 520-7469,

Next: "Alpine Symphony," May 17 and 18

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