Occidental Professor Composes Score for "The Night Is a Child"
Bruno Louchouarn, director of Occidental College's Keck Language and Culture Studio and assistant professor in the theory and practice of multimedia, has composed the score for "The Night Is a Child," a new play by Charles Randolph Wright and directed by Sheldon Epps at the Pasadena Playhouse. The production runs from Aug. 28 through Oct. 4.
"The Night Is a Child" brings an American woman (played by JoBeth Williams) from Brookline, Mass. to Rio de Janeiro, after a traumatic event in her life. In her journey she befriends a remarkable Brazilian woman and discovers samba and the religion Candomble, bringing a sea change in her outlook on life and her family.
"When I read the script I was struck by the strength of the story and the cultural sensitivity of the writer, Charles Randolph Wright, who is very connected to Brazilian culture and is fluent in Portuguese," Louchouarn says. "The dynamism of script and the elements of magic realism were a composer's dream--the story goes back and forth between winter in Brookline and Rio de Janeiro in the summer, and there is a strong component of Candomble religion. The score features three main themes: sparse piano gestures for Boston in winter, a warm bossa nova theme that appears in variations from a sparse subliminal guitar version to the full-fledged samba of the finale, and Candomble chants."
Among the instruments Louchouarn utilized for his score are the cavaquinho, a four-string guitar of Portuguese origins similar to the ukulele, and atabaque drums.
Director Epps asked Louchouarn to join the creative team in part because of his expertise in Latin American music and in part because he does both sound design and composition, Louchouran says. He worked with the Pasadena Playhouse last year on "Of Mice and Men," a resetting of John Steinbeck's play in 1942 with Mexican workers in the bracero program.
Louchouarn was born in France and raised in Mexico City, where he directed a Latin American music ensemble. He studied artificial intelligence in Paris and obtained a Ph.D. in composition from UCLA. Premieres of his music have been performed nationally. He has extensive film, theater, and commercial credits, including the futuristic cantina music in "Total Recall." He teaches music, multimedia, and cognitive science at Occidental. To listen to excerpts from his score for "The Night Is a Child" (after the opening), go to http://web.mac.com/blouchou, where you can also listen to a variety of his works. For more information on the Pasadena Playhouse, go to http://www.pasadenaplayhouse.org.