Born in 1954 in Paris, Bruno Coulais has steadily built an impressive career in film music since the late seventies with his highly recognisable lyrical and imaginative scores which often give away his taste for opera and human voice. When writing music, Coulais lets the lighting of the film, rather than the narrative, be his guide: "In cinema, the composer must enter into directors' worlds, but without giving up his own. This is the difficulty or paradox of music to image. By collaborating with filmmakers from a wide variety of backgrounds, by ricochet I think I have discovered a lot about myself. It helped me to progress, to explore territories that were not naturally mine. Cinema is a laboratory where I have sought to build new orchestral set-ups combining Corsican polyphonies, musicians from jazz, variety, classical, or even rappers. Like today's world, a fragmented world where all cultures mix."
Coulais’ tirelessly ambitious music for screen ranges from scores for French blockbusters like Les rivières pourpres (2001) and epic documentaries like Le peuple migrateur (2001) to animated delights, such as the folklore adventure Wolfwalkers (2020). Filmmaker François Reichenbach was the first to task him with a score, asking Coulais to provide music for the short documentary México Mágico (1979), after which he worked on several French features. 1996 proved to be a turning point in his career, receiving universal acclaim for his score for the wholly unique nature documentary Microcosmos: Le peuple de l’herbe by Claude Nuridsany and Marie Pérennou, produced by Jacques Perrin who passed away last April. The film’s score got Coulais his first of three César Awards and the Georges Delerue Award for Best Soundtrack at Film Fest Ghent. Jacques Perrin became a lifelong friend. The two worked together on projects such as Himalaya, l’enfance d’un chef (1999), Océans (2009) and Les saisons (2015). For Himalaya, the composer received a Special Mention “for the excellence of the music” at Film Fest Ghent. On the enormous hit Les choristes (2005) - also produced by Jacques Perrin - Bruno Coulais got to work with the boys' choir from the film. The song “Vois Sur Ton Chemin” earned Coulais and director Christophe Barratier a nomination for the Oscar for Best Original Song.
In 2009, Coulais scored his first major English-language features. He wrote the music for the stop-motion film Coraline by Henry Selick (Coulais’ first American studio film) and he started collaborating with the Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon and its founder Tomm Moore. Together with the Irish band Kíla, he provided the score for the much-praised folklore trilogy The Secret of Kells (2009), Song of the Sea (2014) and Wolfwalkers (2020). Coulais’ most recent scores include Maigret (2022) by Patrice Leconte, the documentary The Forestmaker (2022) by Volker Schlöndorff and the yet to be released Wendell & Wild by Henry Selick.
This year, for the first time since 2009, the World Soundtrack Awards will take place in the Concert Hall of Music Centre De Bijloke, which reopened in 2020 after a renovation. The old, iconic infirmary of De Bijloke retained its historic character thanks to the impressive oak roof truss but has been reinvented as a modern comfortable music venue.
Tickets for the World Soundtrack Awards 2022 are now available on worldsoundtrackawards.com and filmfestival.be.
Copyright photo: Fema / Philippe Lebruman