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NZSO behind festive horror soundtrack

The NZSO will play a part in scaring people around the world this festive season, with its recording of the soundtrack for a horror film, released in New Zealand this week.

In September, the Orchestra recorded the majority of Douglas Pipes’ creepy score for Kiwi-shot Christmas-themed horror film Krampus. The recording was completed in just two days at the Michael Fowler Centre, with Marc Taddei as conductor.

“We had an extremely ambitious program and quite frankly did not expect to record all the music we brought in the time we had,” says composer Douglas Pipes.

“The NZSO players were extremely focused, energetic and wonderfully enthusiastic. They gave us everything we had hoped to record and I would love to record with them again!”

Pipes says he was impressed by the connection between the NZSO players. “The Orchestra immediately played together so beautifully as a group, blending so well together in the hall, while brilliantly performing this challenging score. It is pure joy to have your music recorded by such amazing musicians.”

The foundation of the score for Krampus is Christmas music, says Pipes. “While it ventures into darker fantasy/horror territory, a sense of Christmas is always present in the score in the form of melodic fragments and mutations of Christmas carols as well as instruments that evoke Christmas: bells, chimes, choirs, and such.

“We were fortunate to have the immensely talented Michael Stewart conduct the angelic (and in cases near demonic) voices of the Tudor Consort Choir and the Choristers of Wellington. There are also pagan influences in the score, and the percussionists went above and beyond in helping create that world of sound.”

Written and directed by Michael Dougherty, Krampus enjoyed a successful opening in US cinemas last weekend, finishing second at the box office just behind The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II.

The NZSO was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance earlier this week for another of its commissioned recordings, Symphony ‘Humen 1839’, by Chinese composers Zhou Long and Chen Yi, conducted by Singaporean Darrell Ang under the Naxos label.