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Touching Music Overcomes Limitations

"Stick to a way that you like, you feel touching, and that you think will work, then you will make it," said Hong Kong composer Peter Kam, also winner of the Silver Bear award for best film music for the film Isabella at 2006 Berlin Film Festival, at an interview with Xinhua News Agency. 


More than a month ago, Kam picked up the best score award at Berlin Film Festival which is the highest international honor ever received by Hong Kong score writers.   


Apart from honor and joy, the achievement also brought an important message to Kam himself as well as the whole film music circle.  


"If you write music that is touching enough, you will win people's admiration despite your limitation in technical respects," Kam said.   


"It was really very difficult for a Chinese to win international score awards," Kam explained, "we still lag behind in terms of resources and production system in doing film music when compared with Western countries like the US" That was why he was so surprised to hear his name announced at the Berlin Film Festival.   


Many people described the style of Kam's music as grand after listening to his old works. But this time, he took a fine and exquisite approach to write the score for Isabella which he said was a little breakthrough.   


"The pace of this film is rather slow, I wanted to express the characters' inner world more than just tell what is happening in an objective environment," Kam said, explaining that allowing music to convey the characters' mixed emotion was what he and director Pang Ho-Cheung tried to do and they have done it successfully.   


Every time when he writes a score, Kam deliberately thinks and creates an identity for his music.   


Once he knew that the story of Isabella happened in Macao, former colony of Portugal, he decided to employ a Portuguese style. He then listened to plenty of Portuguese fado music for inspiration and extracted the sad and lonely spirit from it.   


So, what is the biggest challenge in writing movie scores for the Silver Bear awardee? "Exalt," Kam gave the reporter a quick and clear answer. "Music can help a film to exalt to another level which is the utmost goal," Kam said, adding that music becomes powerful when it can express the implication of a film.   


Kam has shown his amiable and easy character during the interview. He also introduced himself as being optimistic and perceptual.   


"I like reading touching stories and am easily moved by them," Kam said.   


He said he was sensitive to the complexity of human feelings has helped a lot in his creative career.   


Because of the best score award, many people is having great expectation towards Isabella which will start showing on April 6 in both Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland.  


Kam said that he has already adjusted himself to avoid pressure and showed more concern about his forthcoming album, a collection of his works on film music, which will be released in mid-April.   


"I don't know what will it be and what to do if no one buys it," he said in a half joking way.   


Besides writing scores for a Taiwanese film, Kam is also working on some records and the production of Isabella's sound track. He said that he would give more time on doing records and songs in the future.


(Xinhua News Agency April 4, 2006)

Screening Date Updates for Two Films
Silver Bear for HK Music: an Interview with Pang Ho-cheung
Reflections on Haf 2005: Pang Ho-cheung
Isabella Invited to Peking University
Isabella Leung Heading for Spain
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