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Oscar-winning short film scored by Trinity Laban alumnus

Tue 6 Mar 2018

Amir Konjani has composed the score for The Silent Child, winner of 2018’s Best Live Action Short Film at the 90TH Academy Awards.

Directed by Chris Overton and starring Rachel Shenton, The Silent Child centres around a profoundly deaf four year old girl who lives in a world of silence until a caring social worker teaches her the gift of communication.

Amir Konjani was awarded his BMus in Tehran before winning a scholarship to study at Trinity Laban, completing his MMus under the tutelage of Stephen Montague, Edward Jessen and Head of Composition Dominic Murcott.

He later studied at the California Institute of the Arts, and is now studying for a PhD at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.

In an interview this week with Mandy News, Konjani discussed his path from training to industry, explaining that he “found studying at good colleges is like a metamorphosis; in my case it enabled me to do the necessary groundwork before becoming involved in big professional productions.”

He noted that a commission from Trinity Laban Orchestra and the BBC World Service became a turning point in his career. Konjani’s composition was conducted by Peter Manning at Blackheath Concert Hall and broadcast by the BBC to critical acclaim, leading to commissions from other organisations.

Speaking to Trinity Laban after the Oscar win, he says: “Dominic Murcott discovered my talent in the UK, and trusted me [as a composer] even though I could understand English but not speak it fluently.

“Dominic met with me and looked at my portfolio. He patiently listened to my music and his hospitality at Trinity Laban was unforgettable. That meeting changed my career and it was the first turning point in my UK journey. I consider him a true mentor, guru, and friend.

“He planted a seed and now after 11 years, we are seeing the results. Two gold medal nominations and the Oscar!

“The composition and orchestration class at Trinity Laban with Stephen Montague were also very helpful, I remember he gave us a lot of assignments to improve techniques. My piece Dedicate zephyr to The Garden was composed in conjunction with Stephen and Dominic's classes.”

Alongside two new movies, Konjani is currently working with the BBC on a documentary exploring his innovative performance mechanism: Shadowing.

This technique uses a single performance act to create two or more different – but related – sounds, separated by timbre and time. Springs and tubes generate one group of sounds and are intended to re-project through large plastic tubes with x-ray material-membranes. These sounds then create air-like ‘shadow’ sounds, which are slightly delayed and distorted acoustically.

He has been invited to lecture on the technique to composition students at Trinity Laban later this year.

Among other awards, The Silent Child also received the People’s Choice and York Youth Awards at Aesthetica Short Film Festival 2017, and collected the Rhode Island International Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize for Best Live Action Short. The score has also been nominated at the Sydney Indie Film Festival. 

To find out more about studying composition at Trinity Laban, visit our music pages.