Sounds of the silver screen
The Prague Film Orchestra performs both well-known and obscure film scores
Posted: October 9, 2013
Courtesy Photo: Dana Ondráčková
Jiří Korynta has been conducting the Prague Film Orchestra, seen here during a performance in Ostrava, since it started in 2004.
Established nearly a decade ago, in September 2004, the Prague Film Orchestra (PFO) has grown to an impressive ensemble that has 120 film scores to choose from for their regular performances. Starting with three concerts a year, the orchestra has become much more active on the music scene around the country in recent years and sometimes performs up to three concerts a month, from Prague to Brno and with plans in the works to put on shows beyond the country's borders, too.
The orchestra's next show takes place - very appropriately - in a film theater. Sunday evening, Oct. 13, at 7:30 p.m., the PFO will play at the Lucerna cinema, where the program includes compositions by John Williams, Hans Zimmer and John Barry, as well as Lalo Schifrin's Mission: Impossible theme and Bill Conti's celebrated "Gonna Fly Now" from Rocky.
John Williams, the prolific composer of big orchestral numbers for dozens of films since the 1970s, and perhaps best-known for his collaborations with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, is a towering figure in the film music business, and it is no surprise he features heavily on most of the PFO's programs. Williams has scored every single film directed by Spielberg since the director's sophomore feature The Sugarland Express, released in 1974.
"Wiliams is surely the best contemporary composer of film music," the PFO's conductor, Jiří Korynta, told The Prague Post. "Most parts of his themes became very popular and well-known thanks to their melodiousness and lots of emotions. When you have the chance to see [what his scores consist of, and what it means], you just have to bow to his genius."
When: Sunday, Oct. 13, at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Lucerna, Grand Hall
Tickets: 350 Kč
Web: Praguefilmorchestra.com (in Czech)
Korynta was one of the founders of the PFO, along with a group of other young film music enthusiasts, and has stayed on to serve as conductor. He is also in charge of choosing the music for the program but says he is always open to suggestions from the public. According to him, the orchestra has become very popular with young people in particular.
The scores themselves are not all that easy to get hold of, and Korynta mentioned Williams' score for Jurassic Park as one in particular that he was delighted to track down and perform onstage in the Czech Republic, which to his knowledge had not been done before.
He said there are two scores he currently has his eye on for future performances: the music for Conan the Barbarian, composed by Basil Poledouris, and Steve Jablonsky's score for Michael Bay's Transformers.
At the upcoming Lucerna concert, the PFO will also play a few new pieces of music, from the Disney animated film Mulan and the classic 1985 film Out of Africa. In addition to this, the orchestra has started to look a little farther, beyond the conventional limits of the seventh art, to video games.
"A few years ago, I got the score for World of Warcraft," Korynta said, "and since then, people really want concerts with game music, but that is even harder to get [hold of] than film music." At Lucerna, the PFO will perform music composed by Jason Graves for the Dead Space horror video game.
The orchestra has gained quite a following, and Korynta says the feeling of playing in a packed Rudolfinum where the audience gives the players a standing ovation is something quite indescribable. However, he is also careful not to become blasé about this adoration, and says, "You can't ever get used to this, though; you always have to deserve it."
André Crous can be reached at