This post was written by Fabrizio Mancinelli.

Artistic collaborations possess an extraordinary power that transcends boundaries, leaving a lasting impact on creators and audiences. In this op-ed, I will delve into the deep inspiration that led me to work alongside esteemed animator Andreas Deja on his hand-drawn short film, Mushka. 

Since 2008, I have had the great privilege of knowing Andreas Deja and his partner Roger Viloria, who served as co-producer, editor, and compositor on the film. As an ardent admirer of Deja's strong artistic prowess, particularly his iconic contributions to classic Disney films, I was overjoyed when Andreas asked me to compose the score for Mushka at one of his cherished Christmas parties.

Mushka'Mushka'Credit: Mushka Productions

The mere prospect of contributing to a project led by Andreas ignited an unwavering passion within me, fueling my determination to craft an excellent score. This extraordinary opportunity also brought the special chance to collaborate with legendary composer and songwriter Richard M. Sherman, renowned for his iconic contributions to Mary Poppins, among many other films. Sherman had already composed a unique and instantly recognizable theme for Mushka, adding another layer of excitement to our collaboration.

Approaching the creative process for Mushka, I aimed to pay homage to the film's distinctive aesthetic captured by Sherman's evocative theme while infusing it with my own artistic sensibilities.

Drawing inspiration from musical legacies of the past, I yearned to craft a score that transcended mere folkloric conventions. Interweaving elements of Eastern European and Central Asian musical traditions into the score, built around Sherman's and my original themes, allowed for a harmonious marriage of diverse influences. Carefully chosen instrumentation, such as the distinctive Balalaikas, and harmonic progressions, blended seamlessly to breathe life into the music. 

203833704_10225624571098171_1241045451662417038_nComposer Fabrizio MancinelliCredit: Fabrizio Mancinelli

The animation's exquisite visual aesthetic, reminiscent of beautifully illustrated books, served as a guiding light, influencing the musical nuances that painted each frame. The result is a symphonic score that transcends borders, cultures, and eras.

Throughout the production of Mushka, several unforgettable moments stand out. Collaborating directly with not one, but two Disney legends, was an extraordinary opportunity. Having grown up admiring their art, working with them felt like receiving a long-desired gift on Christmas morning.

I will forever cherish the voicemail I received from Richard, who called to compliment my arrangement of his theme for the "montage" sequence. Even now, listening to that message brings a smile to my face.

FabriziomancinelliComposer Fabrizio MancinelliCredit: Fabrizio Mancinelli

Recording Holly Sedillos' vocals at 5 Cat Studios in Los Angeles as guests of the supremely talented John Powell was another cherished moment. There was a special collaborative atmosphere among true giants in the field. We also remotely recorded a 64-piece orchestra in Vienna, skillfully conducted by Bernhard Melbye Voss, at the legendary Synchron Stage. Thereafter, we headed to Skywalker Ranch for a week to dub the project. 

Witnessing Andreas’ artistic brilliance firsthand was a transformative experience that pushed the boundaries of my musical imagination and gave me the confidence to pursue my vision.

Our work on Mushka spanned about eight years, moving alongside other projects that influenced its development. Going back and forth on sequences and rewriting them allowed my language to evolve and solidify. Drawing from my cycle of classical composition studies and the scores I composed in recent years, I learned the importance of dedicated attention to the storytelling arc and finding the right color for each different film I am part of.

In conclusion, my collaboration on Mushka serves as a personal testament to the transformative power of artistic collaborations when guided by inspiring artists. It allowed me to score the kind of film I grew up with—an endearing, simple story that encapsulates feelings, love, and deep emotions. Andreas’ love letter to his art form, hand-drawn animation, beautifully comes to life in Mushka.

I am confident that the audience will perceive the heart and soul poured into this project.

This post was written by Fabrizio Mancinelli.