Release Date: 7-1-07
Wholesale Price CD: $6
Suggested List: $10
Catalog Number: BBG 921
genre 1 — CLASSICAL: film music
genre 2 — WORLD: native american
cross-genre — TYPE: SOUNDTRACK
Brent Michael Davids spins a masterful tapestry of music for “Bright Circle.” Davids’ score for the 90-minute documentary is a complex and satisfying mix of dark, rich orchestral tones for the film’s tragic scenes, woven into music that reflects the story’s lighter more hopeful moments. The film documents the lives of Jim Thorpe (Sac and Fox) and other great American Indian athletes of Carlisle and Haskell Indian boarding schools, and their modern-day counterparts such as quarterback Brett Favre (Choctaw).
The opening “Bright Circle Theme” (Track 1) starts on a hopeful note, though the first half of the score is dark, suspenseful and at times tragically beautiful. Aggressive low brass, timpani, pulsating strings and American Indian drumming punctuate the steam locomotive in the cue “Train to Carlisle” (Track 3), where small children were sent off to an unfriendly environment as part of the government-sponsored “boarding school” program. As revealed in the film, many of these American Indian children perished and were buried in a cemetery on the school grounds, beautifully and tenderly scored with a soft wooden flute and muted strings in “Sickness & Cemetery” (Track 7). The score’s final cue, “Bright Circle Credits” (Track 21), is especially effective, where Davids takes the opening symphonic theme, merges it with a second theme sung by American Indian singers, and balances the two divergent themes over a funky dance beat. The result is striking and infectious, carrying with it a sense of timeless reverence.
Artfully combining American Indian instruments with Western orchestral ones — without falling prey to the simplistic overlapping or collaging of songs — is a particular challenge; but for the “Bright Circle” score, Davids (an American Indian himself) manages it magnificently with a direct boldness that speaks volumes to his years as a concert music composer. Possessing a powerful ability to create vibrant narratives with music that are rich in drama and excitement, Davids’ score is sophisticated and extremely compelling. If one could magically blend the film composers Tan Dun and Jerry Goldsmith together into the Mohican Tribe, the result would probably sound like Brent Michael Davids.