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Art of Storytelling with Music – Zviad Mgebry & Luka Lebanidze at Envision Sound 2020

Movie in concert “Salt From Bonneville” (2020) film by Simon Mozgovyi, soundtrack by Zviad Mgebry and Luka Lebanidze with accompaniment by Sed Contra Ensemble. Kiev, Ukraine Dovzhenko Centre. Photos by Vadim Podlevsky

This January, our composers Zviad Mgebry and Luka Lebanidze were invited to Kyiv by British Council to conduct a workshop and, most importantly, perform the documentary film “Salt from Bonneville” live.

Salt from Bonneville tells the story of the adventure of two friends and an old soviet bike, who set an ambitious goal to beat the world speed record at Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA. 

Luka and Zviad tell us about the movie in concert performance:

This live performance was an interesting challenge for us because we had to recreate the soundtrack of Salt From Bonneville live in sync with the movie in front of the audience. It was an interesting quest for us because during the initial recording of the soundtrack we used rare conducting techniques, overdubs and almost no written notation. During the studio sessions we conducted the performers in a special way with an intention of real instruments to sound like synthesizers, with the focus on textures and timbres, using specific gestures we showed the musicians when to play, what notes, techniques and dynamics.

Although we had a sample library called “SALT” – a tool which we custom made with our team at Postred Labs when working on the movie, we decided not to use it for the sake of the live performance, we wanted to create a special and memorable experience for the audience and the players.

British Council and Envision Sound team invited an amazing Sed Contra Ensemble. During the rehearsals we explained our conducting technique to the players. We really loved working with an ensemble because guys were also enjoying the performence.

In the end the live performance turned out as a very fun and beautiful experience for us. Also we are very happy that the concert resonated with the audience, we are extremely grateful for British Council for this opportunity. 

Another reason for Zviad and Luka to come to Kyiv was to do a workshop session for Envision Sound program participants. Envision Sound is an international educational program for composers. The topic of our team’s presentation was “Art of Storytelling with Music,” where they shared their experience with the audience and talked about their music writing mindset and collaboration with film directors.

Zviad Mgebry and Luka Lebanidze conducting a workshop in Kyiv. Photos by Vadim Podlevsky

The essential part of the fruitful work relationship is getting to know a film director’s world. For example, sometimes, as a cinematic composer, you don’t have to talk specifically about the current project when discussing other topics. You can learn more about the director’s perception and interests, which can help you choose the direction when writing music.