Nikolaï Clavier: the composer of "Glimpses"
Updated: Mar 9, 2022
On January 7th 2022 the documentary "Glimpses From a Hundred Years of Endeavour" premiered worldwide on youtube. The film portrays the past 100 years of development within the Bahá'í community, a world religion seeking to promote universal piece and the unification of mankind.
This article was written for the Norwegian magazine "Bahá'í Nytt" in March 2022 (by Thor Henning Lerstad):
- It has been an enormous honour to be a part of it, says Norwegian Nikolaï Clavier, 32,
freelance musician and composer ("Clavier Classics"), married to Tess and living in Utrecht, The Netherlands. He has composed most of the music for the film «Glimpses from a Hundred Years of Endeavour ”which tells about the social development of the Bahá’í faith since‘ Abdu’l-Bahá's passing in 1921.
- I had the honour of collaborating with director May Taherzadeh as lead composer
the project. That is, I composed most of the soundtrack which is under the dialogue and other scenes. In addition, I had the pleasure of working with international musicians
such as Alicia Ruhi Kendall, who composed the music for the opening and closing of the film.
Brett Smith, Michael Dragoman and Emily Dragoman composed the music under the spoken word scene at the end. They also recorded the voices for the song I had made for the Master's Funeral in the film. It was really fun to be able to work with musicians that I have looked up to as a youth.
How has the process been?
- First and foremost, I must say that it has been an enormous honour to be a part of it. It's not every day that one works for an employer like the Universal House of Justice. Yet, since it was a partly done as a service, I had a certain time pressure and limited resources to work with. The last months before the "deadline" I had May and I meet daily around 04:00 AM. We worked around the clock, and so did we the film editor and the rest of the post-production team. It was pretty intense, especially because I got Corona two weeks before the deadline and became very ill.
What is especially rewarding and challenging about making film music?
- Film music is a separate field in the music world. It is special because you combine two
domains - storytelling and sound. As a film composer, you do not work alone, you work in
close collaboration with the director, sound designer and producers. One's own artistic freedom exists within the strict framework required by the film. It is often a very long process to find the right music for the right stage. The music needs to fit 100%, otherwise it can end up damaging the movie.
The music for the film is varied - what determines what?
-As a rule, the process in "Glimt" started with the director, May, sending me a raw version of a scene. Then we had a conversation about which emotions and points in the scene were important to bring out in the music. Then I made a first version of the music and through a lot of deliberation and trial came will eventually arrive at a result that everyone was happy with. This could take a long time , when some of the scenes had up to 20 versions of music before we found the right style.
Some scenes, such as 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Funeral and Gerda's monologue, I composed long before the pictures were made. Then I only worked with voiceover and an idea that May had. 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Funeral is actually inspired by a piece I composed in 2020 for a Dutch gangster film, "Back to Zotteken Waes". May wanted to use that music first, though I thought it was too crazy to use gangster music for that scene, so I wrote a new one piece that was a little less quirky-Belgian-gangster-art-house, and a little more appropriate for the scene.
What do you think about the film?
- This film differs quite a bit from the other films that the House of Justice has released
in the last years. I think May's style is very tough. Her films are very down to earth, simple and elegant. She has a strong optimism and joy in her films, such as her use of
sharp colours, realistic images and white backgrounds. I also really enjoyed this movie
used many great archive photos and videos.
The film also combines fictional scenes with documentary voiceover segments, it seems
I too am a very creative choice. There are always things you see in such a project that you want one could have done better, but all in all it has been a fruitful project and I believe the message the film comes through clearly. The members of the House of Universal Justice were very delighted, and I heard the film received standing ovations at the premiere at the Bahá'í World Center - so it is at least very encouraging.