How to Catch a Star - Zak Engel

PARMA is no stranger to unique projects, from quick timelines to unusual instrumentation. So in mid-October, when accomplished film score composer Zak Engel reached out to PARMA to discuss a particularly powerful and moving project with the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, we were more than happy to take part in the effort. Engel had composed the score for a theater performance of How to Catch a Star, a children’s book by author Oliver Jeffers. The book, a heartwarming tale about chasing one’s dreams, is being brought to life by the Kennedy Center through live choreographed dances, colorful projections, and Engel’s music. With a little over a month before opening night, this project required equal parts swiftness and precision.

Fortunately, PARMA had just the ensemble for the job: the Zagreb Festival Orchestra, newly re-established by CEO Bob Lord. Together with a fully-assembled administrative team, Bob was able to restore the group to its original prominence. Engel’s project, the first for the ZFO since its revival, was a welcomed challenge for the ensemble and PARMA’s audio team, as the recording date was slated to occur less than two weeks before the opening night of the concert.

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Setting up for recording with the ZFO at the Bersa Hall, Zagreb Academy of Music

After meetings with PARMA team members, the sessions were set, and when the recording day came, every last second of time in the studio was put to use. Within two days of the recording session, Engel arrived at the PARMA headquarters for in-office editing sessions with the post-production team. By the beginning of the following week, the project was complete—and just in time, with the opening night of the performance happening that Wednesday.


Engel (right) and Audio Director Lucas Paquette editing audio at PARMA’s headquarters

When all was said and done, Engel reached out to the team to express his thanks, stating that “all of your efforts to make the recordings come together on such a tight deadline are hugely appreciated. [I’m] very glad I was pointed in your direction.” We are equally as glad that through this project, a score was promptly transformed into audial reality, the ZFO had a successful reentry into the musical world (more on their story soon…stay tuned!), and audiences of all ages now have an inspiring story to experience as Engel’s compositions guide them towards chasing their own dreams.

Click here for a sample of Engel’s work with the ZFO on How to Catch a Star!