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Ulster Orchestra Scores ‘Puffin Rock’ & ‘A Nightingale Falling’
01 May 2014 : Aisling Newton
The Ulster Symphony Orchestra has recorded the score to the new feature film ‘A Nightingale Falling’ and has been commissioned by the producers of ‘Puffin Rock’ to record the soundtrack for the animated series.

The score to feature film ‘A Nightingale Falling’ was recorded over two days in Belfast at the end of April, the first time ever that the Ulster Orchestra recorded a full, feature-length film score. It joins only a handful of film scores to be recorded entirely in Ireland. With support from Northern Ireland Screen, the score was written by Donegal-born composer Graeme Stewart for Mixed Bag Media’s film ‘A Nightingale Falling’. Stewart likens the score to “an emotional spectator of the film,” and describes it as having “a lyrical and a pastoral quality, featuring woodwind and solo stringed instruments, while at the same time becoming much more symphonic when it needs to.”

The film, based on the novel of the same title by PJ Curtis, is a new historical drama set against the backdrop of a turbulent, war-torn Ireland in the early 1920s. It is a story of a household and its inhabitants caught in the crucible of the merciless politics, cruelties and hardships of the period. It is also a story of love, and the dark secrets that lead to broken hearts. Starring Tara Breathnach, Muireann Bird and Gerard McCarthy, it was filmed entirely on location in Co. Offaly. ‘A Nightingale Falling’ will be released later this year.

Composer Graeme Stewart said; “I got involved in the film after watching the trailer for ‘A Nightingale Falling’ and I just thought it looked like a really beautifully shot film; I was blown away by what Mixed Bag Media has created from PJ Curtis' book. One of the things which drew me to score this film was that it needed that sweeping orchestral sound underneath the characters and the locations which have been directed and acted so beautifully. I'm thrilled to be recording and conducting the score with the Ulster Orchestra.”

Cartoon Saloon’s ‘Puffin Rock’, starring Chris O’Dowd as the voice of its leading character, has also teamed up with the Ulster Orchestra and Northern Ireland Screen in its new initiative to provide recorded scores for upcoming film and TV projects. The pre-school television series is currently being animated in Derry and Kilkenny for transmission on RTÉ Jr and Nick Jr early in 2015 with 39 seven-minute episodes. Independent record label Smalltown America will produce the soundtrack to ‘Puffin Rock’, which is produced by global publisher Penguin Books and Dog Ears as well as Cartoon Saloon. Gorilla Post Productions are currently working on the voice and sound production for ‘Puffin Rock’, created by Tomm Moore from Cartoon Saloon.

Charlene Hegarty, Director of Publishing at Smalltown America Music, said; “Puffin Rock represents a completely new way of generating music for picture, commercially, within Northern Ireland and we are immensely proud to be the first agency to engage the Ulster Orchestra on this type of project.”

Veronica Morris, Head of External Relations at the Ulster Orchestra, said; "The Ulster Orchestra are thrilled to be involved at an integral level with these exciting productions. We are keen to develop our work in the area of film and animation score production and are delighted to work with Northern Ireland Screen, and companies like Mixed Bag Media and Cartoon Saloon to develop the creative industries here.”

For more information on ‘A Nightingale Falling’ check out Mixed Bag Media and for ‘Puffin Rock’ details see Cartoon Saloon.ie or Gorilla Post Productions.ie.

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