Netherlands native, Arjan Kiel, has toured with bands throughout Russia, Europe, North and South America, and Africa. He has played the organ and piano, studied jazz and classical music, and has arranged scores for symphonic orchestras and big bands. Since 2008, Kiel has worked full time as a symphonic orchestra and choir composer for classical music and film scores. If you’re a fan of Weta Workshop, like-myself, Arjan Kiel’s music can be heard at the end of each Weta Cast. His own music, with titles like “Luthien and Beren” and “Arathorn’s Wish”, is truly Tolkien-inspired. And now, word of Kiel’s scores have reached Middle-earth Network, a Tolkien-based radio station, and soon we will be hearing his music broadcasting to the masses through their site. Meet the man who’s music will take you there and back again:
1. Can you take a moment to highlight some of your favorite past projects?
What I loved to do, and still do, is work with Jon Anderson. I’ve been a Yes fan all my life, and working with him and having Jon sing with my music, is really great! Also a highlight in my career as a musician was playing keyboards in the band with Sister Sledge, which gave me the opportunity to travel around the world
I also loved working with the Born of Hope team. The great footage, the story, the atmosphere, I just loved it. There’s no music from me in the final movie, but, I had a lot of fun working on it, it was very inspiring to me and we still have good contacts.
I also loved the reaction of Mr. Doug Adams, who was very enthusiastic about my music, he wrote me: ‘I have been enjoying your music for a couple of days now. Very well done, sir! I’ve recommended you as someone who can write original LOTR-style music.’
2. Many of your scores have been influenced by J. R. R. Tolken’s novels. What is it about his work that inspires your creativity?
I’ve never read Tolkien untill I got home from the cinema watching FOTR. I was totally blown away by the movie. When I got home I took the book, the LOTR, which we had for years (..) and started to turn the pages, but from the back to the front. So I read the appendices first, and I was grabbed by this world, languages, races, this Middle Earth. Then a started reading it all, LOTR, Silmarillion, Book of Lost Tales, [The] Hobbit, etc. By the time TTT was in the cinemas I was kind of an expert!!
I think it’s the richness of details in his work. The beautiful but also dangerous world of the elves, Dunedain, Rohan, Valar, it’s easy for me to believe this all happened for real! I also was very inspired by the music of Howard Shore. Thanks to his score for the trilogy, and reading the books of Tolkien, I decided to become a composer too. I already studied at the conservatory, but did the last few years study orchestration, and composing for orchestra and choir.
3. Your blog mentions you began collaborating with Jon Anderson back in November 2007 on “the voice of Yes”, an opera. Is the project near completion?
Yes, we finished it. We are searching for ways to bring it to the public. I leave it a bit to Jon what he wants to do with it. We had plans for a little tour, but it’s hard to do a tour with an orchestra and choir. But who knows!
4. What are your present projects, and are there any lined up for the future?
Jon and I are working on something new, which is very exiting. I also have some contacts and projects with Jef Murray, Paul Raymond Gregory, Ivan Cavini and Ian Brodie. Just watch Ian’s coming new Facebook page in the future! I also have contacts with the forum http://parendili.org/. It’s a forum for people that make poems in the Elvish languages. They made a lot of poems for me describing the first pages of the Simarillion, and some of the main characters of it. Melkor, Melian, Aule, etc. I haven’t started on that one, but I’m very excited about it!
The best project, of course, would be a phone call from NZ, or USA, to work together with my great inspiration, Mr. Howard Shore in some sort of way, on The Hobbit. But everybody wants to, so, I just keep dreaming on…:)
5. How did you hear about Middle-earth Network (Dunedain Radio) and what part of working with them are you looking forward to?
My friend Jef Murray did ask me to contact Mark about [Middle-earth Network]. I looked into it and loved the idea! I’m looking forward to having some collaboration with other Tolkien lovers and artists. I think it’s very good to work together from the same idea: the world of Tolkien which we all love. I think [Middle-earth Network] can connect a lot of people and also artists to each other. So I hope there will be some nice new projects thanks to [Middle-earth Network]!
Image is copyright Arjan Kiel and is used with permission.