Zimmer and Whitacre: Strange Musical Bedfellows

Earlier today, I was browsing through Eric Whitacre’s website in pursuit of “Sainte-Chapelle:” a composition commissioned by the Tallis Scholars to commemorate  their 40th anniversary, and which they performed for the first time this past March.

As I wandered harmlessly through the site, searching for a “Chapelle” snippet to share, I stumbled upon this, all unsuspecting:YouTube Preview ImageNow, what’s a nice cinematic track like you doin’ in a classical place like this?

Whitacre’s reveal:

I co-composed the “Mermaid Theme” with Hans Zimmer and conducted some of the choral sessions. I had the time of my life! Hans is a brilliant composer and a generous collaborator; can’t wait to work with him again.

This discovery, while unexpected, actually makes me feel quite a bit better. The “Mermaid Theme” from Zimmer’s PotC4 score has bothered me for some time because it sounds radically unlike his other work. (Yes, I should probably avoid putting film composers into such tight little boxes, but Zimmer has always been reliably and instantly identifiable. Wall of Sound FTW!)

The link appears to be Whitacre’s wife, Hila Plitmann, whose ethereal voice voice is heard on Zimmer’s score for The Da Vinci Code. (Strange. And here I’d been laboring for years under the assumption that Hans is contractually obligated to use Lisa Gerrard’s famously ethereal voice exclusively on his soundtracks. My bad.)

Apparently, Hila came up with the Mermaid language on her own. And she proudly proclaims its Elvish roots:

That’s my wife Hila Plitmann singing all the solo stuff, BTW. She also invented the Mermaid language they are singing, a combination of Latin, Hebrew, and as she says, ‘Elvish.’ Geek.

Finishing off the string of strange coincidences, here’s a piece written (at least partially) by Lisa and performed by Hila. For the Beijing Olympics, I believe. Or something involving ships. Or boats. And races. (And James Horner just called. He wants his “My Heart Will Go On” back.)

Also, yes. I DID spent about an hour trying to figure out how to get “Strange Bedfellows” and “On Stranger Tides” to coalesce into a blog title. How’d you know?

About Joseph Susanka

Joseph has been doing development work for institutions of Catholic higher education since graduating from Thomas Aquinas College in 1999. A grateful resident of Wyoming, he spends his free time exploring the beautiful Wind River Mountains, keeping track of his (currently) seven sons, and thanking his lucky stars for Netflix.


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