Rolando Gori, composer for film, television, web and live performance

Rolando Gori

composer

Rolando's scoring achieves that rare trifecta of balance form and energy. He is as skilled with smaller moments as he is with big, bold action, and never fails to create a unique, unexpected and vibrant soundscape.

Brian O'Neill Screenwriter

Rolando's unique skills in music composition elevated the project to another level which I did not think was possible.

Roy T. Anderson Producer

He got the humor, the pace, the tone and added his own spin on the music to help me tell my story. I think one of the main reasons this film is so well received is due to the musical composition of Rolando Gori.

Victor Verhaeghe Director

Not only does Rolando deliver a polished piece of music with the nuances I’ve requested, but he contributes his ideas to the entire project. He consistently delivers the highest level of musicianship.

Monica Hoyt Director

Rolando's music is delightful and deeply, knowingly integrated into the pieces. He is the kind of collaborator who doesn't waste time telling you what he can't do. He shows you what he CAN do. And it's always spot on and perfect.

Michael K. White & Dianna Stark Writers

New York City-based composer, pianist and producer Rolando Gori was born in Rome and raised in Canada. He began making music at an early age, improvising melodies on his toy electric organ to keep his mother company as she did her chores. His childhood home was saturated with both classical and popular Italian music, and he would soon become smitten with the Anglo-American pop-rock of bands like Depeche Mode, The Cure and New Order. His earliest musical education came at the age of 10 when he discovered the full range of the piano and taught himself popular songs off the radio.

At 17, Rolando enrolled at the Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto) where he studied under renowned pianist Earle Moss and immersed himself in the music of Chopin and Beethoven. At Concordia University (Montreal) he learned composition from Alan Crossman, and continued piano studies with Linda Friedland. His formal education was classical, yet he continued to be strongly influenced by the 20th Century art music of Stravinsky and Britten, as well as more popular music artists, such as Radiohead and Beck.

In Montreal, Rolando met renowned director Robert Verenieks and began composing professionally for the West Side Players Theater productions, discovering his passion for dramatic music. His first serious foray into the world of cinematic music was for a United Nations documentary by director Francis Mead, about the 2003 attack on the UN headquarters in Baghdad. In 2009, Rolando met director Mark Cabaroy and worked with him for several years, scoring his independent short films. Mark's eclectic film ouvre allowed Rolando to try his hand at several styles of film music, including comedies and suspense dramas. Through Cabaroy, Rolando met producer Edward Washington, who facilitated a successful introduction to Roy T. Anderson in the Spring of 2011 when Rolando was hired to write the orchestrally rich score to Akwantu, a critically acclaimed documentary about the Jamaican Marroons. More recently, Rolando has rekindled his joy in writing music for theatrical productions, working closely with director Monica Hoyt and the writing team of Michael K. White and Dianna Stark. He is currently producing new albums with award-winning songwriter Spencer Chandler, as well as the inimitable cabaret powerhouse Carolyn Montgomery-Forant.

Rolando received his BFA in Composition & Theory with honors from Concordia. His music has been heard in feature films, documentaries and narrative shorts, as well as in live performances by chamber ensembles, theater companies and dance troupes throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. Alongside his wife, Heidi Siegell, he runs MUSA212, producing independent musicians at their project studio in Hell's Kitchen.

Tidbits of interest

I was born in Italy — Rome — “the capital of the world.” My dad always seemed to leave out the part where that slogan ended 1,500 years earlier, but who’s counting?

When I was 4 (still in Rome … see pic), I would play tunes on my little toy organ and keep my mom entertained with my improvised music-making.

Raised in a steel town in suburban Canada, I did not touch another instrument until I was 10. But I learned a lot about street hockey, frostbite and how to deal with the embarrassment of speaking two languages, instead of just one—Italian was an enforced skill during my childhood.

At 10 I wanted to play electric guitar, but my dad knew better and had me learn piano, with which I got bored very quickly and dropped the lessons after a year.

I taught myself how to read and play music, by recording songs off the radio and trying to figure everything out by ear. I still didn’t have a guitar, so I had to learn with the electric piano my parents bought me when I started my piano lessons.

Before deciding I was going to take music seriously, I was pursuing a life as a computer programmer. Coding my own websites lets me to keep that part of me alive.

I began learning music and piano formally when I was 18 at the Royal Conservatory of Music, after dropping out of high-school. I left school one semester before graduating. For my final math test at school I wrote an essay about why I thought testing and the whole school system was a sham. I wasn’t allowed to take the essay out of the exam, so I handed it in as part of the test. I still passed the math class (barely); I guess I did well enough the rest of the year that the test didn’t matter.

I was running my dad’s travel agency on my own for a couple of years, before I went back to finish my high school diploma and get myself into university.

I barely passed the test for piano performance Grade 8 at the OCM; but, to be fair, I did speed through 8 grades of piano in 2 years.

I started my professional composition career writing incidental music for plays in Montreal and Toronto (and one in Riga, Latvia!).

My first music for film was at college for a student film about ice climbers called Belayer’s Belayed. It was written for drums, by a good friend of mine at the time Julian Mainprize.

I have a University honors degree in Fine Arts with a Specialization in Music Theory and Composition. However, I started it in Toronto, did most of it in Montreal and finished it in London, UK … how’s that for all over the map!?

In the UK I lived in London—the capital of the world at some point, right? I lived all over: Wathamstow, Brockley, East Ham, Greenwich, Streatham Hill … and plenty of other places I don't ever remeber any more.

Took me years to realize that formally learning music actually stopped me from making it, so I had to get out of that academic mindset and start writing again.

While in London, I had my first chamber works performed including my Autumn Wind Quintet whose premiere I conducted.

I almost had my music performed in Plovdiv (Bulgaria) … the musicians were not able to prepare the piece in time, so I cancelled the performance, but I had a great time exploring the Bulgarian countryside and abbeys tucked high up in very mountainous terrain.

I took a trip to Italy with some friends and I creatively managed to lose the keys to our rental van. Forgetting I had them in my shorts’ pocket as I was going out for a swim in the sea, upon realizing this, instead of taking the time to walk them back to the beach, I threw them to a friend of mine and she missed the throw. Long story short, we had an adventure figuring out the extra set of keys resided in Sicily, then breaking into our Mercedez rental van (built like Front Knox, mind you!) to get all our stuff. We raced to Pisa to catch the next train to Genoa (leaving at 2am), so we'd be at the airport in time for our flight the next morning.

Most memorable UK experience: I and some composer friends of mine were commissioned to write for the “Art in Romney Marsh” festival. We played at St. George’s in Ivychurch using a synthesizer (my old Korg 01/W), an accordion, electric guitar, and percussion. But the best sound came in the form of a bucket of large pebbles we had collected at the nearby beach. The pebbles were dropped from about 5 feet up onto the ancient church’s stone floor, which created an incredibly loud and reverberant sound in the middle of one of our pieces (I don’t remember whose piece it was). I took the photo of the other three composers on the beach after having created the above-mentioned instrument … i.e. the bucket of pebbles.

Realizing that chamber music, and pebble-dropping was not really getting me the recognition I had hoped for, I bought an acoustic guitar and tried going back to my love of writing songs, and became suddenly very prolific on that front for a few years. I started going to open mics in London and played as much as I could.

London, at the best of times is pretty great with miserable weather, so after ten years (I obviously really had to make sure I didn’t like the weather), I left. Luckily, I found and got married to someone who lived in much sunnier climes: New York City—according to most New Yorkers, the current capital of the world.

All of my ups and downs, backs and forths, trainings and experiments led me to mature in NYC.

My wife, Heidi Siegell, is a singer/songwriter, so the first thing I did when I moved here was to produce her first album.

We also produced a baby: a fantastic resource for networking, especially when you’re new to a place!

Having studied composition, theory, orchestration, performance, songwriting led me to where I am now: poor! LOL! … seriously, though, I am now producing talented local songwriters, writing music for films and, yes, still writing works for chamber ensembles … hoping that one day soon someone will need a work featuring dropped pebbles.