Lacrimosa (Latin for “weeping”) features actors and dancers alongside six singers from the Master Chorale, the country’s pre-eminent professional choir that performs in Walt Disney Concert Hall. The film is directed by Los Angeles-based, Belgian-born Arnaud Uyttenhove who made his directorial debut in 2010 with the acclaimed documentary Somewhere to Disappear about American photographer Alec Soth. Since then he has directed commercials for companies such as Coca-Cola, Lee, Cacharel, Samsonite, Toyota, Gatorade, and Nike as well as films for Old Navy Activewear, Hermés, and Princess Cruises. He is currently in post-production on his short film, NOA, starring Hopper Penn.
Lacrimosa received a preview screening at the Flux Summer Series at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles in June. It featured alongside an international array of contemporary music videos and short films including Childish Gambino’s This Is America directed by Hiro Murai, the premiere of My Life by Zhu and Tame Impala directed by American Millennial and Elliott Sellars, and Meg Myers’ Numb directed by Clara Aranovich, among others. The event included a post-screening performance by 12 members of the Master Chorale and Associate Conductor Jenny Wong.
The Los Angeles Master Chorale and Uyttenhove were brought together by Marie Noorbergen, Creative Director with branding and design company, Base Design. Noorbergen is part of a creative team that has led a successful re-branding of the Master Chorale, starting in the 2016/17 season and continuing through the forthcoming 2018/19 season. Noorbergen has extended the outreach of the Master Chorale into the L.A. creative community, including directing photo shoots with internationally-acclaimed photographer Arnaud Pyvka. Her multi-layered work has gained new attention for the choir from its audiences and peers, as well as resonating in the wider world of art and culture.
One of the people intrigued by her work was Uyttenhove and, as the shape and feel of the 2018/19 campaign began to develop, the idea of creating a short film with the Master Chorale was first proposed.
“Since Base first began working with the Los Angeles Master Chorale, there have been several themes and a visual language that we created to form a foundation for every campaign,” says Noorbergen. “With this film, we wanted to explore a way to open this upscale artform of choral music to new audiences by building a true connection with the real, visceral city of L.A., and by tapping into very human emotions. We wanted to reflect that the singers of the Master Chorale are the voices of L.A. With Lacrimosa, Arnaud has taken this to a new level.”
“From the start, this film project was going to be different from anything we had done before,” says Jean Davidson, the Master Chorale’s President & CEO who engaged Base Design for the re-branding. “Arnaud’s desire to work with the Master Chorale was driven from an impulse to create something beautiful, but also something that would have a wider impact by demonstrating the transformative impact of the human voice. We think he has achieved this—and more—with Lacrimosa and are proud to showcase our singers and our connection to the city of Los Angeles through his lens.”
Lacrimosa was filmed over two days with a production crew provided by Hollywood-based Caviar, an award-winning entertainment company with offices in Los Angeles, Brussels, London, Paris, Amsterdam and Madrid that represents Uyttenhove.
Uyttenhove’s concept for Lacrimosa developed from articles he had read about music therapy for victims of PTSD. The film’s story was further propelled by the casting of Russell Coker in the intense lead role. Coker, a veteran infantryman who served on two deployments to Iraq, contributed to the script. Dancers featured in Lacrimosa include krumpers James “BDash” Derrick and Kevin “Konkrete” Davis who are currently competing in NBC’s World of Dance.
The Lacrimosa section of Mozart’s Requiem provides the film’s soundtrack. The piece was recorded especially for the film, scored by composer Adam Crystal with a sampled orchestral track by Emmy Award-winning composer Jeff Beal, and conducted by the Master Chorale’s Associate Conductor, Jenny Wong. The six Master Chorale singers featured in the film are Holly Sedillos (soprano), Margaurite Mathis-Clark (mezzo soprano), Niké St. Clair (mezzo soprano), Bryan Lane (tenor), Adrien Redford (bass), and Mark Edward Smith (bass). The Mozart Requiem will be performed by the Los Angeles Master Chorale in Walt Disney Concert Hall on September 22 & 23.