A new documentary follows Paavo Jarvi, Lang Lang, Joshua Bell, other stars behind the scenes.A new documentary, "Maestro" by Cincinnati-based filmmaker David Donnelly,
Paavo Järvi, pianist Lang Lang, violinists Joshua Bell and Hilary Hahn
and other stars over the course of two years as they perform to sold-out
halls across the globe. The trailer shows some of the drama and also
loneliness that happens at the top, and behind the scenes in the music
The documentary – narrowed from 200 hours of footage down
to 90 minutes – has multiple Cincinnati scenes, including Music Hall, as
well as the international stages Järvi performs on with his orchestras
of Bremen (Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie), Frankfurt and Paris. It
includes footage of a tour to Japan, as well as a European tour.
33, a native Northern Kentuckian, has spent the last three years
directing "Maestro." The film was produced by Luke McIntosh, a college
friend of Donnelly's, and Ford D'Aprix. The camera travels around the
world with Järvi, music director laureate of the Cincinnati Symphony
Orchestra, as he performs with stars Lang Lang, Bell, Hahn and Pekka
Kuusisto, and orchestras in Frankfurt, Bremen, Paris and Tokyo.
The documentary is nearly ready for release. This week, Donnelly hopes to finalize the last piece of fundraising through a Kickstarter campaign.
he's worked extensively in Hollywood, "Maestro" is Donnelly's feature
length film debut. Here are some stills from the film, and comments in
his own words:
"About five years ago, I was living in the same
building that Paavo was. We became friends, and he asked me to come to
classical music concerts. Initially I wasn't too interested in it. But
he's very persuasive. I started going to concerts and became a fan. I
was lucky, because he would tell me the story behind the pieces, and
when I would go to the concerts, the story and the narrative was already
"A few instances made a strong impact; I started inviting friends and
realized how hard it was to get his peers to go. Everyone has
misconceptions about the concert experience. A lot of young people don't
consider that the way to spend a Friday night.
"It was the single
greatest challenge of my life but also the greatest blessing. Mostly it
was me and my cinematographer (CCM e-media grad) Heath Saunders. I
traveled the world with some of the most brilliant musicians alive. I
had an eye-opening experience with the shoot itself. But getting the
film finished, with all the technicalities involved – whether it's
synching the sound – a nightmare if you have multiple cameras and people
moving at lightning speeds. A big challenge for us is that classical
musicians don't want to appear vulnerable. It took a lot of persuasion
to allow us to show rehearsals – when they're in blue jeans, without
"Hilary Hahn -- we filmed her in Tokyo. Paavo is huge in Japan, and
he's going to be head of the NHK Symphony. People were waiting in line
for 2/12 hours to get his autograph. It's amazing how much they love him
"The story is the journey to the stage. I wanted to show a
larger audience how much classical musicians at this level are like
professional athletes. There are a lot of parallels, like the pre-game
kind of feeling of getting ready for a big concert, the discipline
that's required, the pressure that starts to build, because you're going
to be on a world stage, the slim margin of error. The amount of
practice – they practice their whole lives. Hopefully, it will resonate
with people who appreciate professional sports.
"We definitely show the nerves. The opening of the film is the two
minutes before Paavo is opening the season at Orchestre de Paris. He
gets a knock on the door, and it's, 'OK, we're ready.' There are 3,000
people waiting downstairs. And the French minister of culture is in the
crowd, and he determines how much money the orchestra gets. There are
lots of moving parts."
Visit the Kickstarter page to see how to get a DVD, sponsor a school screening or attend the gala premiere, slated for Jan. 10 in Philadelphia.