3×3 Three Minutes, Three Questions Benoit Charest, “Triplets of Belleville”

3×3  Three Minutes, Three Questions  Benoit Charest, “Triplets of Belleville”

“The Triplets of Belleville,” a 2003 animated comedy, took the world of animation by storm — the feature-length, European-made film was unlike anything else at the time. The plot relied very little on the spoken word, and, instead, used music and mime to tell the wacky and slightly convoluted story of an elderly woman trying to rescue her grandson — a Tour de France bicyclist — from the French mafia. The film was ultimately nominated for two Academy Awards — Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song for “Belleville Rendez-vous.” The man responsible for that song, Canadian composer Benoit Charest, will be appearing at the Walton Arts Center’s Baum Walker Hall, leading a live band in a performance of the score, perfectly matched to the film screening above them. We recently asked Charest to answer three questions about his performance.

Q. Does this format — playing your music live, in front of an audience, during the movie — allow you a more intimate connection with the audience, or do you have to concentrate on matching the music to the film too much to be too aware of the audience?

A. My main concern, besides the fact that it is, of course, stimulating to perform in front on a receptive crowd, is to make sure everything goes smoothly and that the musical intentions and nuance are transmitted to the band through fulminating glances, facial grimace and gesture.

Q. Has performing it repeatedly, in front of an audience — which has the tendency to be an interactive experience — led to any new revelations about the score? Do you ever find audiences’ reactions surprising to certain parts of the story, from performance to performance?

A. Actually, it is quite interesting to see how certain cultures react to certain moments in the film.For example: In France and China, the audience does not find anything disgusting about eating frogs (joking). But we, the band, actually talk after the show of how the crowd reacted about a certain scene. Haven’t come up with any socio-anthropological conclusions yet.

The Triplets of Belleville Cine-Concert 

Q. You sing, conduct, and play guitar during the performance — it is as exhausting as it sounds?

A. Well to be focused and be on your toes can demand energy but I would say that it sounds more exhausting than it is.

— Lara Hightower


Categories: Cover Story