God Knows the Desires of our Heart

It was siesta time on Day 29 of my 42-day pilgrimage through Spain in 2013. This was my 5th day in Sóller, near the northwest coast of Mallorca, in the Balearic Islands of Spain. I was sitting poolside at the summer home of my gracious hosts, the parents of Pedro González Arbona, who we met in an exchange program three years prior.

The day was hot—just like the preceding days. I was still not used to the Spanish heat. Sóller was only slightly cooler than Madrid. It was in the mid-90s; and there was no air conditioning. When we left Madrid the week before, I was expecting cool island breezes and relief from the heat. There was no such luck. I adapted as best as I could, and relished the mid-day siesta to take a bite out of the heat.

The view from my bedroom window in Sóller.

The view from the writing desk in my bedroom in Sóller.

Siesta Time in Sóller

After the mid-day meal which was typically served at 2 PM, the family would turn to siesta mode. Some would take a nap, or others would read or relax by the pool. It was a deliberate time of restfulness and solitude.

Most days I would be in my room with the ceiling fan on, either typing away on my laptop trying to catch up on my writing, or sprawled out on my bed catching a few zzzzz. Traveling away from home without the benefit of an American companion, I considered both an investment in my emotional and physical health.

On this day, I relinquished my writing and my napping to another restful activity. I sat in the shade reading the script to Pedro’s most recent film. It was the script to Tempting Fate, the movie that is now showing across Africa with his music wafting through the theaters.

As I sat there reading with the sound of running water filling the pool in the background, all I kept reflecting on was how God really does know the desires of our heart. I’d love to be able to say that was because of the idyllic setting I was in, or the generosity of my family back home, or my Spanish host family. I had many of those moments in my 6 weeks of living with Pedro’s family.

A Holy Plot Twist

No, on this day it was the content of what I was reading that gave me goosebumps and lit the fire of the Holy Spirit within me. The script was ‘hot off the press’ so to speak. Pedro received it electronically and had a copy made at the print shop in town. He had already made his first pass through the script and had ideas running through his mind on the scenes and music.   I was honored to be the next to read it—mostly because I was his manager, but also because I was one of the few family members who could read English.  (His previous scripts were in Spanish and difficult for me to read.)

I knew very little about the story, and so I eagerly read it. The story opened with a bank robbery scene, lots of gun fire, and the death of a police officer. That didn’t sound like my type of movie.

Immediately following that, the story turned to a scene at a church with African worship music being sung. The sudden shift caught me off-guard and peaked my interest. As I read further and further into the script, I was enthralled with the story, and excited to read how this tale of two Nigerian brothers, one with deep faith fighting for his life against cancer, and the other steeped in a life of crime and drugs, would end.

I was not disappointed. It had a powerful message of redemption and forgiveness. Here’s one piece of great dialogue:

“God owes you no explanation, son. He looks out for you and gives you what is best for you. The important question is not why, but what happens next? And trust me, for those that trust God their next chapters are always better than the former chapters.”

Scenes from the movie Tempting Fate.

I couldn’t believe my eyes as I read some of these scenes that challenged the characters in the movie, and would certainly resonate with audiences.

At one point, when I was nearing the end of the script, Pedro asked me what I thought of it. I had a hard time containing my excitement, but told him he would have to wait until I was finished reading. “Only a few more pages,” I told him. “And then we can talk about it.”

“Are you looking for the scenes with music in it?”

“No,” I confessed.

“You are a bad manager,” he teased. I didn’t mind. I was too overwhelmed with the sudden shift in the focus of my trip.

“The first of many more scripts for you to read,” he continued jokingly. But I didn’t take his musical talent or potential success in jest.

God Knows The Desires of our Hearts

God was not only giving me the desires of my heart with this trip of a lifetime, the Lord was giving Pedro the desires of his heart. Pedro dreamed of composing film scores since he was ten years old. Now at the age of 20, he was composing for his first full-feature American film!

A few days earlier, my daily devotional was based on Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” After reading the script of this faith-based movie, I had a teachable moment with Pedro about that scripture and how the Lord’s favor was on his music. He wasn’t sold on the idea that God would really have any interest in his musical success. There were much more pressing things for God to have His attention on like poverty and worldwide issues.  But I begged to differ.

Psalm 37.4

I expressed to him how I believed it was not a coincidence that he had landed this contract at this very point in time. I had been praying for his music to be used by God since the day I found out he was a composer. The script pointed people to God’s love and forgiveness, so his music would do the same. I saw it as an incredible blessing and confirmation that his music really was meant for the big screen.

Since Pedro came into my life five years ago, the Lord has given me many desires of my heart: the friendship of this family across the world, being the benefactor of Pedro’s music, and giving me a mid-life career change into writing (my long lost passion from college).

It’s not because God is like a genie, or I prayed for earthly success or rewards. It is because of my faith shift that started with a deeper and truer relationship with the Lord, and as the scripture says, delighting in Him.

So what about the Movie?

The Lord’s favor is on Tempting Fate too—the movie, the cast and the crew as it plays in theaters across Nigeria and Ghana. It premiered at #3 in the Box Office last week and is getting lots of positive reviews. Nollywood is all a twitter about this Hollywood/Nollywood collaboration.

My prayers continue for this movie and its message. I applaud KevStel Group for producing this film and following their dreams and desires of their hearts to bring quality faith-based entertainment to the big screen.

What about you? Are you delighting in the Lord? Where is He giving you the desires of your heart?

The Making of Tempting Fate’s Score by Pedro González Arbona

Today marks the theatrical release of Tempting Fate across Nigeria. It is a day I’ve been anticipating and praying for ever since Pedro González Arbona signed the contract to compose the movie soundtrack while we were together in Madrid two summers ago.

wp_ss_20150717_0001Early last year while Pedro was in the final stages of synchronizing the music with the movie, Kevin Kwankwor, the film’s director, asked Pedro to write about the movie composing process. At that point, it was uncertain where the premiere would be held. There was talk of a Hollywood premiere and Pedro didn’t expect he could make that. The script below was to be recorded for showing at the Hollywood premiere.

Pedro and I did attend the red carpet VIP screening in Houston last year. And last week was the premiere in Lagos, Nigeria with the major U.S. cast and crew and Nollywood star Ramsey Nouah. If Tempting Fate does well in Nigeria and Ghana, there is much hope that the movie will make its way through Europe and back to America for an official nationwide release.

In the meantime, I’m sharing Pedro’s account of his work on Tempting Fate and his creative music process.

THE MAKING OF TEMPTING FATE’s SCORE
by Pedro González Arbona

Introduction

I received the call from Kevin Kwankwor—producer, director, screenwriter, and CEO of KevStel Group LLC.—in the middle of July 2013. I was finishing the score of two short films, so it was the best time to start a new project.

Kevin and I had some conversations about music in general, and the “Tempting Fate” project in particular. We connected very well from the beginning because we had the same approach to this story of a deep relationship between two brothers and how their different paths in life affect their destiny.

Pedro in his studio in Madrid, July 2013.

Pedro in his studio in Madrid, July 2013.

Kevin showed me some classical music he had in mind when writing the screenplay and some instruments he wanted to use in the project. He told me they were shooting in September and wanted some of the tracks of the score to be done by then. That was just the beginning of an amazing process.

Music in Films

In my opinion, there are four aspects that are needed in order to make a good film: a good screenplay, a good director, good acting, and a good score.

When I started focusing my composing on cinema, I started realizing how important a good score is for a film. I actually think that music creates the magical environment needed for a film. Music is another kind of narration, apart from the screenplay and the visual narration made by the director. More importantly, music helps to tell the story with the intent of immersing the audience in the movie.

What would the famous shower scene from “Psycho” be without the screeching strings by Bernard Herrmann? Or the scene from “ET” with the kids peddling their bicycles through the sky with the moon in the background, without the music by John Williams? Or the Hobbit´s Shire in “The Fellowship of the Ring” without the music by Howard Shore? I am sure you can imagine dozens of examples, and by then you will realize that those films would not be the same without that music.

Photo credit: Universal Studios

Photo credit: Universal Studios

The question now is, what do you consider a good score? Well, there is not a perfect theory, but I usually consider two kinds of scores.

On the one hand, are the composers who just use the music in the background of the film in order to create the perfect environment for the film. In these kinds of scores, the music is so well done that when the audience leaves the theater, they do not realize that they heard a score. Some examples could be amazing composers such as Thomas Newman or the Spanish composer, Alberto Iglesias.

On the other hand, are the composers who use a lot of melodic music that goes directly to the mind of the viewer. Most of the “famous” composers are from this second group. But there is a big problem with this kind of music; they have to have caution in order not to distract the viewer from the film. And that is a very difficult task. Wonderful composers such as John Williams, Hans Zimmer, or James Horner are from this second group.

TF Script with border

The script to “Tempting Fate”

The Process of Scoring

The process of scoring all starts with the reading of the screenplay. In the case of “Tempting Fate,” Kevin sent the screenplay to me after the contract was signed in late July. I read it three or four times in order to fully grasp the film´s message and get a feel for the characters. I took a lot of notes about what scenes needed music and what kind of music was needed. Then I start the composing process.

Most composers start creating the score when they get the film, but I have always preferred to start the scoring even before the shooting starts. This makes the composing more fluid for me, and because it is better if the director has the music while shooting the film. This also allows the director to plan the film with the music in mind.

I always write around two main themes, which usually are linked to the main characters.

  • First was the “Love Theme”, about the love story between Edu and Tracy. For this theme I composed very melodic music with a violin solo and a piano in order to get a romantic melody that was going to be used in the most poignant moments of the film.
  • Second was the “Brother´s Theme”, about the relationship between the two brothers, Ugo and Edu. I made different variations of this theme throughout the film, because of the different facets of their relationship. I used the guitar and clarinet in the good moments, the piano and the violin solo for the bad moments, and the woodwinds for the background scenes.
Music Composer Pedro González Arbona

Music Composer Pedro González Arbona

“Tempting Fate” was shot in September 2013, and during that time Kevin and I continued to keep in touch. He told me very important details about the filming. With Kevin’s keen directorial insights and the screenplay in hand, I had lots of inspiration to compose the score.

After the composing process was completed, and after I received the final edited version of the film, I started what I call the synchronizing process. This process consisted of comparing the music I created, with the scenes from the film, and deciding what music to use, what not to use, and how many changes were needed.

Finally the time came for the recording process. As violin and piano were the main instruments in this score, professional violin and piano players were hired for the recording. A soprano, a guitarist, and a percussionist were also hired. It was so exciting to be at the recording studio and to see my compositions come to life thanks to them.

So this is the end of this amazing project which involved so many different people from so many different countries such as Nigeria, India, Spain, and the United States.

I am very thankful:

  • to the head of the project, Kevin Kwankwor, for giving me this opportunity;
  • to Francisco Arbona, for consulting with me on the music;
  • to José Iglesias, the director of the musical academy where my music foundation was formed;
  • to Ardis Nelson, my manager, for helping me so much with my composing career and producing my first two CDs;
  • to Guillermo Servera, for introducing me to orchestration software and for sharing his expertise with me so many times;
  • to Chani Bas, for giving me my first job in the cinema;
  • and to my parents:
    • my father because he played the piano and immersed me in what is now my passion for music,
    • and my mother who expanded my musical knowledge so well and instilled my Christian beliefs.

Congratulations to Pedro and the entire cast and crew of Tempting Fate. I am proud to support the release of this faith-based movie across Africa and beyond.

Below is a slideshow of images from the press tour and the Lagos premiere on July 10.  Special thanks and credit goes to Chris Willard at willardphotographic.com and the Nigerian Press for use of many of these photos.

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For up-to-date information about Tempting Fate and to view more photos, check out the movie’s Facebook page.  Stay tuned for more updates on Pedro’s musical pursuits, and an exclusive interview with co-star Dan Davies.  He is nothing like Scorpion, the evil character he so convincingly portrays in the movie.

Sneak Peek & Rave Reviews for Tempting Fate Soundtrack

It’s been many months since I last wrote about Pedro’s movie composing and the status of Tempting Fate, his first full-feature American film.  It’s hard to believe that we celebrated the 4th of July last year at the VIP screening of the movie in Houston.

On the red carpet at the Tempting Fate premiere, July 4, 2014, Houston, TX.

On the red carpet at the Tempting Fate premiere, July 4, 2014, Houston, TX.

One year later, the film’s stars and key production crew have just arrived in Lagos, Nigeria for another very important premiere of this Christian movie (Friday, July 10, 2015).  Although Pedro is not able to attend, we are no less interested in what is going on with this faith-based film across the world.

We are counting down the days to its release across Nigeria (July 17) and Ghana (July 24). Only 9 days to go as of today’s publishing of this post.  Momentum is building as positive media reviews are spreading across Nigeria.

To date, the official movie trailer has over 30,000 views on youtube.com.

 

What is the significance of the release of this movie in Africa?   Stay tuned for my next update on the movie and an exclusive interview with Dan Davies, co-star of Tempting Fate, for more behind the scenes information.*

For now, let’s talk music…

Post Screening Promotion

The first music related production after the Houston premiere was the filming and release of a music video for the Tempting Fate theme song.  This video was shot in LA, starring Andrew Onochie, who portrays Edu in the movie, and actress and singer Jacobed Melgarejo.  The song is a blend of Igbo (Nigerian), English, and Spanish worship with words that echo the message of redemption and forgiveness, the overarching theme of the movie.

 

Over the past year, we’ve watched and patiently waited while the movie made its rounds through some very prestigious film festivals.  Tempting Fate was chosen to premiere at the Indie Fest USA International Film Festival last fall in Orange County, CA and also at the Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) in Hollywood, CA earlier this year.  Rave reviews were shared by audiences at both festivals.

PAFF program information, February 2015.

PAFF program information, February 2015.

Release of the Movie Soundtrack

The movie soundtrack (available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, etc.) was released worldwide on February 12, 2015.  In order to create the cross-cultural mix of music for the Nollywood (Nigeria)/Hollywood (US) film collaboration three composers were used on the project:  Daniel Berg, Folorunso Obilana, and Pedro González Arbona.

Click image to sample soundtrack or purchase on Amazon.

Click image to sample soundtrack or purchase on Amazon.

The emotions in Tempting Fate music comes from real life’s rough ends and plundering experiences of Ugo and Edu as they journey from love and betrayal to forgiveness and loneliness. This is a story of two brothers, one of deep faith and the other buried in a life of crime. They had their worlds torn apart when the wrong one goes to jail and the other commits an unforgivable act. This music is a collection of compositions from Spain, USA and Africa. These songs are sent from above; they pierce directly into the heart.  (Album notes from CD Baby site.)

The African songs with singing, including the “Tempting Fate” main theme song used in the music video, were composed by Folorunso Obilana.  Daniel Berg’s music is purely orchestral.  Pedro’s music is a combination of orchestral and African instrumental with some melodic voice additions.

While the official CD soundtrack has 12 songs, there is much more music in the film, most of those songs were composed by Pedro.  After seeing the movie at the premiere in Houston last summer, more music changes were made to the final cut.

As is common in scoring for films, the composer doesn’t have a lot of input in the final cut of the movie.  Even highly sought after Academy Award winning composers like Hans Zimmer have to swallow their pride when it comes to which music is used in their movies.  Pedro composed over 80 minutes of music, but only a small fraction of that ended up in the movie or on the soundtrack.  Pedro released some of that music on his latest CD, Memories.

An Exclusive Music Sneak Peek

One such song not on the CD, but in the movie is “Brothers.”  This song is used in one of the first scenes in the movie where the two main actors, Nigerian brothers, Edu and Ugo, are revealing to the audience the nature of their brotherly relationship and love.  It is a beautiful song that I was privy to watch Pedro compose while in Madrid in July 2013.

Pedro walked me through the composing process as he created this song.  It was a very educational and magical moment to witness his creativity in action.  The song went through a few revisions before settling on the version now in the movie.  Since I work with Pedro, he gave me exclusive permission to share this song with my readers by clicking the ‘play’ button below.

 “Brothers” from “Tempting Fate”  © 2015 Pedro González Arbona.

One final music related note, last week during the media showing in Nigeria, the overriding comment was “not a dry eye in the house.”  I won’t give away the ending of the movie, but suffice it to say that Pedro’s final song, “Requiem,” combined with the superb on-screen acting, gives the movie a lasting final impression.  Memorable, moving, and touching, even for a crowd of seasoned movie critics.  Listen for yourself and see if you agree.

“Requiem” from “Tempting Fate”  © 2015 Pedro González Arbona.

Other reviewers commented on how the music strikes people as uniquely different.  The music fits perfectly with the storyline and with the film.  It fosters, helps, and propels the story along.

Praying for Success

Tempting Fate is the directorial debut of Nigerian born Kevin Nwankwor.  The mission of KevStel Group, Kevin’s Atlanta based production company, is to produce uplifting, Christian, and faith-based film and television projects.

How can you help support this independent Christian movie outside of Nigeria?  One way is to purchase the soundtrack. Another is by praying for its success. Nigeria is just the first stop for this movie with global appeal.  With the premiere only days away, prayer is critical to the successful outreach of this film.

TF Nigeria PremiereThe message of this movie is truly inspiring.  If people get behind this movie and pray for it, there will be more films like this available for viewing. So please join me and others around the world who are praying for this movie.

It’s not a coincidence that Pedro is associated with this inspirational faith-based movie.  His music has been bathed in prayers since we met five years ago.  It’s been a long road: from the antique and gutted out player piano in our home in the suburbs of Seattle, to his studio in the heart of Spain, and now to theaters across Africa.  We are proud to be associated with this first class independent film.

Congratulations to the cast and crew of Tempting Fate!  May the message of this movie resonate with viewers in Nigeria and beyond.  May your dreams for this film exceed your every expectation.

*Special thanks to Dan Davies, who portrays Scorpion in Tempting Fate, for contributing to the content of this post.

Memories: A Musical Adventure by Pedro González Arbona

If you found your way to this post you must be a fan of the music of Pedro González Arbona, or film music in general.  In my last post about Pedro’s latest CD, Memories, I gave my readers a glimpse into the making of his CD.  In this post, I am taking you on a musical adventure of the sound, movement, and artistic beauty that these songs entail.  (Click on any of the song names in this post to sample or purchase the song through Amazon.)

Memories CD Cover

Memories: A Musical Adventure

Have you ever noticed when you watch the beginning of a film how the music fills the theater as the name of the movie, main actors, director and key production personnel appear on the screen?  It is a glimpse into the music to come.  Often it is blending of some of the songs for that movie, or maybe a medley like an overture in a musical.

Memories starts in the same way with track 1, aptly named “Opening Titles.”  It is a large and extravagant piece that showcases Pedro’s musical talent and ability to draw the audience into the songs (or scenes) that follow.

Track 2 is one of Pedro’s most beautiful compositions, “The Great Beauty.”  What can I say about a song whose title sums up the music that it portrays?  Delicate, soothing, and distinctive notes from the piano, oboe, harp, and building up to the addition of some mellow horns.  Yes, it is a great beauty! (Select the song title on the media player on the right sidebar to hear this song in full.)

I first heard this beauty a few months before the screening of Pedro’s new movie, Tempting Fate.  I was already privy to his submitted work on the Tempting Fate soundtrack.  This piece seemed to take his work to an even higher level.  Yes, his work is (was) destined for the big screen.

Memories CD back cover

There are several other songs on this CD that are soft songs that would accompany slow or romantic movie scenes.  Some songs may lend themselves to a sad scene with strings accentuating the mood.

Which mood is really up to the listener.  They are all magical.  Included in this variety are “Memories,” “Dreams,” “The Crime,” “Ordinary Lives” (listen on the music player in the right sidebar), “Green View,” “Autumn,” and “Learning from Life.”

Memories contains several songs geared more on the dramatic side.  “Chaos” sounds like a scene right out of a drama or suspense film.  Riveting music that builds and takes you along with the action, glued to the music and the movie, awaiting the finale.

Another large song is “Flying.”  This song reminds me of a patriotic piece or something maybe in a war movie.  It takes me back to movies from years ago.  I can envision an old black and white movie playing as the victory is won in a waging battle.

Epic” is a song meant for a dramatic or suspenseful scene as the music builds.  The music (and the scene) end with a slow fade.  If action movies are your favorite genre, then “Action Theme” will be the song for you.  This song was used by KevStel, producer of Tempting Fate, in a short trailer alert for the movie, but was not on the soundtrack released in February 2015.  Watch the video below to check out how they used this dramatic music.

The last song on the CD is a sentimental favorite of mine, “Kalinda.”  This is Pedro’s first song that was composed for a movie.  It dates back to February 2013 when he first started to experiment with adding strings and other instruments to his piano compositions.  It was used as the trailer music for Thirst for Love, a Spanish short film directed by Chani Bas.  Check out the video below to watch the trailer and listen to “Kalinda.”

Hear it for Yourself

Memories is really music for the movie that is yet to be written.  It is from the movie in Pedro’s mind.  In time, some of these songs may accompany a movie in a theater near you.  Until then, please support Pedro’s music dreams by purchasing his CD, reviewing the music online, and liking his professional Facebook page, Pedro González Arbona, composer.

Want a copy for yourself?  Here’s the purchase links and methods to listen to his music:

Digital Downloads

Streaming

Or purchase the physical CD through my site.

For more information about Pedro González Arbona and his music, visit pgarbona.com.  Stay tuned for more updates on Pedro’s musical career and breaking news about the premiere of Tempting Fate across Nigeria and Ghana in July.

Making “Memories,” a CD by Pedro González Arbona

My desk and my mind are cleared of the clutter and busyness of life.  The most amazing music is engulfing me, stirring my senses, and begging me to share its beauty and my joy with the world.

What am I listening too?  It is the new CD by my favorite musical protégé and composer, Pedro González ArbonaMemories is Pedro’s latest foray into the music and film scoring business.

Memories CD Cover

Pedro’s Musical Background   

In the three years since Introducing Pedro González Arbona, his debut album, was released, Pedro’s music has grown by leaps and bounds.  His first album was a collection of his earliest solo piano compositions performed on a Steinway Concert grand piano in a recording studio in Seattle.  It was a gift for his 18th birthday while visiting from Madrid.  It was a monumental day for us both.

I’ve written a lot about Pedro’s love for music and how it was nurtured and inspired at an early age by cinema.  Now his work has matured and blossomed into full orchestral music that rivals the likes of other famous film composers that he admires, like John Williams (Star Wars), Hans Zimmer (most recently Interstellar), and Alexandre Desplat, winner for Best Original Score for The Grand Budapest Hotel at this year’s Academy Awards.

I don’t say this to boast, although it is hard for me to be impartial.  I say this because, at Pedro’s request, I’ve been immersing myself in various film scores over these last few years as well.  I hear the similarities and have been captivated by Pedro’s music.  Not just listening to it, but also as I witnessed it on the big screen at the VIP screening of his movie Tempting Fate, last July in Houston.

Pedro knows music!

Making Memories, the CD

While I was in Madrid last fall, Pedro and I met over dinner one night to discuss his next CD project. On another night in Madrid, he played one of his newest songs for me, “Opening Titles.”   He was fully engaged in the music, as if conducting the orchestra with an invisible baton.  This was Pedro’s first orchestrated piece, complete with pages and pages of sheet music.  Watching his delight in the final cut of this piece, and immersing myself in the music, was one of my best memories while on this trip to Spain.

Sheet music

A proud moment in Madrid: “Opening Titles” plays through Pedro’s sound system as he reviews the sheet music.

Although we collaborated in the production of the CD, it is truly his project from start to finish.  He designed the album cover, titled the album, and naturally, composed the music.  I brought his vision to completion by working in America with our music distributor, CD Baby.  They make worldwide sales and distribution via iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and other internet music sites easy for any artist.

Pedro’s album cover design (above) conjures up feelings of old time movies, before the age of digital technology, with strips of film negatives pinned to a clothesline.  Which scenes will make the final cut of the movie?  Which songs will make the final cut of the CD?

Selecting the Songs

It was a difficult process to select the final 14 songs for this CD.  The music was mostly composed over the last year during a period of prolific musical and artistic inspiration.   I received some of the songs along his composing process.  I’ve collected a large archive of his music over the past four years from his various film and internet projects or impromptu personal musical inspirations.

Some of the pieces included on the CD were composed for the Tempting Fate film, but didn’t make it to the final cut of the movie.  As I’ve come to learn, it is just part of the film composing process.  It gives Pedro the opportunity to showcase them on his CDs or use on other projects.  (The soundtrack to Tempting Fate is available on Amazon.)

Pedro also collaborated with orchestrators (credited as ‘featuring’ in the track titles) to provide the professional sound quality and feel to his music.  The final 14 songs showcase the variety of Pedro’s music composing ability.

Memories Track TitlesThe easiest way for me to describe this album is to say that even though it was not written for a specific movie or movie scenes, it is just like a soundtrack.  The songs conjure up a wide breadth of emotions that are commonly experienced in a movie:  romance, suspense, action, drama, mystery.  You’ll be hooked after the first song!  I certainly was.

So in my next post about Memories, I will take you on a behind the scenes musical adventure through his latest album.  Until then, you can preview one of my favorite songs “The Great Beauty” on Soundcloud or by selecting the song on the media player in the right sidebar on this page.

For more information about Pedro González Arbona and his music, visit pgarbona.comMemories is available for your immediate listening pleasure through any of the links below:

profileYou can show your support for this young artist’s music career by liking his page on Facebook, Pedro González Arbona, composer.

Going Gaga for the Academy Awards

I woke up yesterday morning to see a flood of social media attention to the 87th annual Academy Awards show. That is nothing unusual on the day following the annual telecast. What stood out was not people weighing in on the winners and losers, but on “The Sound of Music” tribute performance by Lady Gaga.

Going Gaga for the Sound of Music

I am not a Lady Gaga fan, but I am a big fan of “The Sound of Music.” Her performance was incredible, giving me new respect for her musical talent. She was a stunning vision of beauty in a shimmery white sleeveless evening gown and long blonde hair that caressed her bare shoulders. (I was a bit distracted by her obvious love for tattoos, and tried to look past that to enjoy the overall performance.) The stage setting was also beautifully choreographed, with a background of white birch trees, surrounded by a virtuoso of violinists, and framed by twinkling lights arched over the stage.

If you missed her performance, you can watch it here.

I’ve written about my connection with “The Sound of Music” on other occasions—once after attending a Sound of Music Sing-A-Long event, and another post during my adventures in Spain. I felt inspired to write a post about this again the night of the Oscars but decided against it.

“How silly to write about the Academy Awards,” I thought to myself.

After all, isn’t it just an awards show geared to the rich and famous, and full of Hollywood hype? Truthfully, that used to be my opinion of it, not really paying much attention to the awards, and rarely seeing the nominated films. That has changed in recent years with my Spanish connection and friendship with Pedro González Arbona, a young film composer.

Going Gaga for Nominated Films

Every year, Pedro sends my family his Oscar predictions and posts them on Facebook. He also sends me personal reviews of which movies he thinks I would like, taking into account my dislike of violence and my Christian values. My front row seat to his blossoming music career has also given me insight to the world of film composing. He shares his favorite composers and film music with me as well.

A few days ago, my family went to see “The Imitation Game,” nominated for Best Picture and starring Benedict Cumberbatch, nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role. It was a great movie. As a writer I was drawn into the way they told the story, interweaving the past and present from the perspective of Alan Turing (played by Cumberbatch). I loved the history, especially having now traveled to Europe. I loved the unfolding of the story and the development of the characters.   And I loved the music!

the-imitation-game-poster

At the end of the movie, I patiently waited for the name of the composer to appear on the screen. As I watched the credits scroll before me and was immersed in the music, I thought how the music sounded like Pedro’s music. I thought, “Pedro can compose like this.” I’ve seen and heard it before. Regrettably, I didn’t do my homework before going to see the movie or I would’ve paid more attention to the music. That is because the film was scored by Alexandre Desplat (also nominated for Best Original Score)—Pedro’s favorite composer.

Going Gaga for Film Music

I only caught the tail end of the Academy Awards show, rushing home from a meeting at church, just in time to catch Lady Gaga’s amazing performance. Pedro was watching the show live (televised starting at 3 AM in Spain) and texted me during the performance. We both have a love and connection to this musical. He played the music in our home the summer we met and attended a live performance of the musical in the mountains near Leavenworth, Washington. It was a very special and memorable evening.

At the end of the performance, Julie Andrews came out on the stage, hugged Lady Gaga, and thanked her for such a fitting tribute to the movie. Julie Andrews proceeded to introduce the nominees for Best Original Score and made some opening remarks about how music cements our memories in the film going experience.

Pedro texted me: “Here is the moment.” He was predicting Alexandre Desplat to win for “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Earlier in the day he said to listen for his scream if Alexandre won the award.

Alexandre did win the award! I let out a squeal myself. Moments later my phone pinged his response: “Incredible,” Pedro texted me. “Did you hear me scream?”

“Si, y mi?” I texted back. (English translation: Yes, and me?)

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Alexandre Desplat acceptance speech for Best Original Score/The Grand Budapest Hotel (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Why was I so excited? Why was I so engaged in the Oscars and interested in this award category? Because I believe in Pedro’s dream, and I know how important film composing is to his future.

However, I’m not the only one. After last year’s winner was announced for Best Original Score (Steven Price for Gravity), Pedro received an email from the producer/director of his movie “Tempting Fate,” offering the same kind of encouragement to Pedro. He sees the possibilities in Pedro.

A few minutes after Alexandre Desplat accepted his award, Graham Moore was announced as the winner for Best Adapted Screenplay (The Imitation Game). In his acceptance speech, he mentioned his attempted suicide as a teen because he felt “different and weird.” He encouraged young people watching at home to keep believing in themselves and that one day they would have their moment. It was truly inspiring.

Going Gaga for Our Dreams

For me, the Academy Awards show is about people working hard, believing in themselves (against the odds) and fulfilling their dreams. Just like I believe Pedro will one day. He has the talent and the gift of composing beautiful music. With a little luck, and I believe the Lord’s favor, he will walk across that stage one day, or at least be nominated, if not in America, in Spain for their prestigious Goya Awards.

So watching Lady Gaga and the 87th Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday night was very personal to me. My heart has been blessed with the sound of music:

  • Pedro’s simple piano playing of the Rogers & Hammerstein classics,
  • Pedro’s first solo piano compositions (Introducing Pedro González Arbona),
  • Pedro’s movie soundtrack pieces for “Tempting Fate,” and most recently
  • the release of his full orchestral album, Memories.

I went gaga for Lady Gaga’s tribute to the musical that has touched my life, and I continue to go gaga for the future of Pedro González Arbona. (I am his American manager after all.)

Congratulations Alexandre Desplat and all the winners and nominees of the 87th annual Academy Awards. Dream on!

Tempting Fate in Houston, Part 3 ~ Meet the Press

While Pedro González Arbona, a young Spanish film composer, and I attended the VIP screening of Tempting Fate (produced by KevStel Group) in Houston over the 4th of July last year, we walked the red carpet and witnessed much of the paparazzi and press attention directed at the actors and movie producers.  Pedro had his time in the spotlight as well.  It was indeed an exciting evening!

On the red carpet at the Tempting Fate premiere, July 4, 2014, Houston, TX.

On the red carpet with Pedro González Arbona at the Tempting Fate premiere, July 4, 2014, Houston, TX.

I was proud to be there for Pedro, traveling from Seattle, just to meet up for this special milestone in his life.  An avid photographer myself, I was happy to join in with the professional photographers to capture the memories for Pedro’s portfolio as well.  I expect that was only the first of many opportunities Pedro will have to participate in these types of events.

Opportunities to Meet the Press

As I mentioned in Part 1 of this series, Pedro had live press interviews the night of the premiere.  He was interviewed on the red carpet by two Houston stations: Sky Houston, from Majic 102.1 radio station and Usenika Usoro from Afro Centric Television Network. (Unfortunately my requests for copies of these interviews went unanswered.)

The next day, Pedro was scheduled to do a television interview for SpeaksTV, a local cable channel in Houston.  Most of the actors had arrived in Houston before the movie screening and already had their interviews.  They were on their way back to LA and other locations across the U.S. that they called home.

Watch the short video clip below for a teaser with each person in the show!

Like the night before, we were again direction and GPS challenged on our travels in the Houston area.  This time the GPS led us in a very circuitous route over surface streets to a multi-story office building outside of downtown.  There were virtually no cars in the parking lot on this Saturday afternoon, the building was locked, and we couldn’t find a sign to confirm we were at the right place.  We used the after-hours security phone and finally reached someone who could let us in the building.

In the ‘Green Room’

When we arrived at the television studio, we were greeted by Kevin Nwankwor, Tempting Fate producer/director.  We apologized for our tardiness, but luckily there was no harm done as there were other interviews still in progress.  We sat in the green room (my comical name for the waiting room, in reference to the TV guest’s pre-interview room commonly referred to on NBC’s Tonight Show).  While waiting, we conversed with Kevin and his wife and producer Unoma Nwankwor, executive producer Emmanuel Ojeah, and Ramsey Nouah, Nigerian actor and star of Tempting Fate.  Ramsey is the winner of the 2010 African Academy Award for a lead role in the Nigerian movie, Figurine.

Nollywood, Nigeria’s version of Hollywood, is a growing film industry and the 2nd largest in the world after Bollywood in India.  The Nwankwor’s are from Nigeria, and with Ramsey’s affiliation with Tempting Fate, the Nigerian audience is a very important market for this movie.  The movie will open in theaters across Nigeria on Friday, July 17, 2015.

While waiting for Pedro’s interview, we learned a bit about Nigeria.  At the time Nigeria was in the early aftermath of the kidnapping of a group of girls by terrorist Boko Haram.  The Nigerian government’s response was a hot topic of conversation.

Kevin Nwankwor (writer/director/producer), Pedro, and Unoma Nwankwor (producer)

Kevin Nwankwor (writer/director/producer), Pedro, and Unoma Nwankwor (producer)

I asked Ramsey about Nigeria’s spiritual climate in relation to the Christian theme of Tempting Fate.  Nigeria is equally divided between Christianity and Islam.  The conversation turned to social media.  In referencing Ramsey’s Facebook page (over 100,000 likes at the time), we found out that his identity had been stolen on Facebook and that the page wasn’t his.  He doesn’t use social media at all.  I was saddened to hear it, realizing how frustrating it would be to have that sort of false promotion and unauthorized use of one’s personal name.  It was shocking!

We were the last to go in for the interview.  Before we did, I gave Unoma, who is also a successful author of several Christian fiction novels, a signed copy of my book, Journeys to Mother Love.  She graciously offered me the opportunity to guest blog on her site, unomanwankwor.com.  That post, Author Spotlight ~ Ardis A. Nelson, was published in August 2014.

We bid the Nwankwor’s farewell, thanked them for their invitation to the premiere, and pledged our continuing support for the movie.

Pedro’s Interview at SpeaksTV

Pedro and I were greeted by Voké Ogueh, producer for Talk Time Show, the SpeaksTV program that was spotlighting Tempting Fate.  Voké was at the premiere the night before, but we didn’t get a chance to meet.

Tempting Fate 007

Voké prepping Pedro for his interview segments.

Talk Time Show is not filmed as an interview dialogue between two people but is pre-recorded as separate segments. I was invited to join Pedro in the interview, but declined.  This was Pedro’s moment to shine.  I watched the filming from behind the camera man’s angle, and occasionally coached him.

Pedro at ease in front of the camera.

Pedro at ease in front of the camera.

I could tell that Pedro was very accustomed to being in front of an audience.  He was a natural on camera and spoke with clarity and command.  (He has acted in several theatrical productions in Madrid, and also starred and co-directed “Noises Off” in December 2013.)  Not having the pleasure of seeing him act in person, and certainly not in English, this was a priceless experience for me.

Voké prepped Pedro telling him what they wanted to know about the movie’s music.  In the first segment Pedro explained how he composed the music, first being inspired and touched by reading the screenplay.  When he received the film, his music was inspired more by the actors and how moving the scenes were on screen.

Pedro and me with Voké on set at the SpeaksTV studio.

Pedro and me with Voké on set at the SpeaksTV studio.

In another video segment, Pedro was asked to describe some of the music.  He spoke about the Brother’s theme music that he wrote with multiple variations throughout the film, matching the mood of the scenes.  I watched Pedro compose some of that music while in Spain the year before and was quick to recognize it in the movie: violin, cello, and guitar—a trio of beautiful strings.

Voké was particularly interested in the African music in the movie.  In another segment, Pedro described how he added African instruments to some of the songs and a female African soprano was hired to add humming as well.

Pedro wrapped up his studio recording with a 15-second teaser for the show (below).  For the benefit of their Spanish speaking viewers in Houston, they also had him close the commercial teaser in Spanish.  We wrapped up our time at the studio with a few photos on the set.

Editing of the interviews and adding Pedro’s music to the final show took a few weeks.  The interview was broadcast in Houston on July 26 (video below) and posted on youtube.com for viewing online.  (Pedro’s segment starts at 9:30 into the video.)

Farewell to Houston

Pedro and I had a leisurely dinner at a very American restaurant at The Galleria and had a long overdue conversation to catch up on family and personal news.  We ended our day by reviewing, selecting, and posting a photo album on Pedro’s Facebook professional page. (Like it to show your support of his musical endeavors.)

The following day was reserved for a tour of the Johnson Space Center.  Pedro was on his way back to Madrid on Monday morning. It was a whirlwind trip—less than three days together on this once in a lifetime experience.

Click image to sample soundtrack or purchase on Amazon.

Click image to sample soundtrack or purchase on Amazon.

I’m ever so grateful that I was there to witness Pedro’s dreams come to life on the big screen.  His star is starting to rise.  For a few days it shined over Houston, soon it will shine across Nigeria as well, and hopefully over all of America too.

The Tempting Fate soundtrack will be released on February 12, 2015.  And then everyone will get to hear for themselves how great this soundtrack is.

Stay tuned for lots more exciting news about Tempting Fate and the music of Pedro González Arbona!

Tempting Fate in Houston, Part 2 ~ The Movie Screening

In Part 1 of this series on the Tempting Fate VIP movie screening in Houston on July 4th, Pedro González Arbona had performed at the pre-screening Meet and Greet, walked the red carpet and was interviewed by local media that was on site that evening.  Now it was time for the main event, the screening of Tempting Fate.

Tempting Fate VIP Screening FB Cover

Almost Show Time

We individually filed into the theater where the screening was to be held.  Our names had to be crossed off the attendee list before we were allowed to enter so there was a bit of a backup to enter the theater.  Oh my aching feet…the swelling and pain in my sprained foot were making it harder and harder to patiently wait our turn to enter the theater.

When we did we were directed to sit in one of the two rows of seats reserved in the center of the theater for actors and VIPs.  We sat sandwiched between the actors as we waited for the start of the movie.  Ramsey Nouah, winner of the 2010 African Academy Award for a lead role in Figurine, was seated to my left, and actress Trinitee Stokes on Pedro’s right.

The audience, can you spot us in the crowd?

The audience, can you spot us in the crowd?

Kevin Nwankwor, the producer/director/writer of Tempting Fate, was introduced and gave a few remarks to prepare us for the screening.

Let the Movie Begin

When the movie and the music started on the full sized theater screen, I’m sure my heart must’ve skipped a beat.  I knew Pedro’s music better than anyone there, except for Pedro, of course.  I had been captivated by these melodies and the moods they conveyed for as long as Pedro had been composing them.  They were the sounds of drama, action, brotherly love, romance, and sadness.  And now here they were larger than life for all to hear.

It was a strange feeling at first for me.  Being so personally familiar with the music, it was hard to separate my emotion and pride for Pedro’s work from watching the movie.  Initially there was a lot of chatter going on during the movie.  There were cheers at times and some laughter too.  At first it was a distraction for me.

However, as the plot began to unfold on screen and the characters’ relationships became intertwined, I got carried away in the story.  That is to say I was thoroughly engaged in the movie.  I didn’t want it to end.  And when it did, I wasn’t the only audience member with tears streaming down their face.  Pedro’s song, “Requiem,” was playing in the background of the gripping final scene, adding impact and emotion with his music.  It was simply beautiful.

As the credits began to roll up the screen, the audience was clapping and cheering for the movie.  Pedro’s name was one of the few with his name listed alone on the screen:  Music Composed by Pedro González Arbona.  Bravo Pedro!!!

Director Commentary

After the credits rolled off the screen and the lights came on, Kevin Nwankwor, the producer and director came to the front of the theater to address the audience.  Kevin shared his passion for the project and how difficult it was to make the movie.  His desire was to make it as much like a multi-million dollar movie as possible, but with the low budget that he had.  And he accomplished it all in two weeks!

Kevin Nwankwor addresses the audience.

Director Kevin Nwankwor addresses the audience.

He finished his commentary by sharing the message he wanted people to take away from the movie, and what he learned as a result of the project:

First, you don’t have a second chance in this life.  Like the brothers in the movie, you don’t know what will happen in the future.  You can’t do it by yourself.  It is God.  Do your best, work hard. But do the right thing.

Whatever it is you believe that you want to achieve, I want you to know that you can always achieve it.  The Tempting Fate movie has made me to understand that in this life nothing is impossible.

Applause filled the theater as the audience showed their appreciation and agreement with Kevin’s comments.

Q & A and More Photos

Next on the scheduled events was an opportunity for the audience to ask questions of the cast and crew.  Several of the actors were asked about how they got into character for their roles.

I patiently waited and wondered if someone would ask Pedro a question; and they did.  He was asked about the composing process.  Pedro stood up, and was acknowledged by the audience for his music.  He shared how he started by reading the script and making notes in the margin to identify scenes to add music too.  Then he begins composing the music.

Pedro fields a question from the audience.

Pedro fields a question from the audience.

At the end of the Q & A session, the night was not over yet.  Photographers and the press were still at the event, so the red carpet media frenzy continued longer into the night.  Pedro mingled more with the actors and crew.  I followed along with my camera and met people as well.

An End to the Fairy Tale

An after-party was planned at Zanzibar Lounge, in downtown Houston, into the early morning hours.  We graciously declined the invitation.  Pedro was still dealing with jetlag and sleep-deprivation from his 2-day travel ordeal.  As much as I didn’t want this night to end, I knew my feet (sprained foot) wouldn’t be able to tolerate any dancing anyway.

At the end of Cinderella’s night at the ball, her carriage turned back into a pumpkin.  In much the same way, our fairy tale evening didn’t have such a smooth ending either.  Although the hotel was only two miles from the theater, we got lost and spent almost an hour aimlessly driving around Sugar Land, TX.   Dead cell phones, no GPS, and closed services on the 4th of July all contributed to our sense of frustration and exhaustion.  Thankfully we met someone in a parking lot who could direct us back to our hotel.

Tempting Fate 150

When we pulled into the hotel parking lot, the limousine was parked outside waiting to take the cast and crew to the party.  Next time, I suspect that’ll be Pedro’s carriage.

When the clock struck midnight on July 4th, 2014, our day to remember was emblazoned forever in our minds, not as a fairy tale, but as a dream come true—with more on the way for the cast and crew of Tempting Fate.

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Post Screening Update:  Exciting things are definitely ahead for this movie.  In the two months since the Tempting Fate screening, KevStel Group has been working on the release of the soundtrack with Pedro’s original compositions, a new music video was shot in LA for the theme song, and they announced that the movie will be widely released in Nigeria on Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015. 

(Many photos for this post are courtesy of KevStel Group. You can view other photos on the Tempting Fate Facebook page.)

Updated 2/12/2015: The Tempting Fate soundtrack with Pedro’s music released today and is available on Amazon and iTunes. The movie release has been rescheduled to July 17, 2015 across Nigeria.

Tempting Fate in Houston, Part 1 ~ On the Red Carpet

When I last wrote about Pedro’s Tempting Fate* premiere in Houston, we were en route to the theater.  No limousine treatment for Mr. Pedro González Arbona.  That was reserved for the cast arrival later.  I was Pedro’s chauffeur for the night, and he was stuck with me.  No chauffeur’s cap like he suggested, but I bet I was the best dressed chauffeur at the event.  (His real limousine ride will happen in due time.)

Pedro arrives at the theater for his American composing film debut.

Pedro arrives at the theater for his American composing film debut.

I had many roles for Pedro that weekend.  I was his image consultant, his photographer, his personal biographer, his publicist and his manager.  Best of all, I was his friend.  At any given moment it was hard to separate which role I was playing.  As his benefactor and producer of his first CD, I was grateful to be there for his American movie debut.  It was all in God’s timing, for sure.

At the Keyboard

We arrived at the venue for the sound check, before all of the festivities started, and in advance of the other cast and crew.  Our first introductions were to Doyin Fashakin, the event planner (Events By Doyin).  It was her smooth talking and quick maneuvering that got the keyboard at the event on such short notice.  (Muchas gracias, Doyin!)

Pedro turned on the keyboard and started to practice, but there was no sound coming out of the auxiliary sound system!  I prayed silently—no more problems in Houston.  He fiddled with the cable connections a bit and music soon wafted through the theater reception area. (Answered prayer, thank you, God!)

A musical temptation straight from Madrid, Spain.

A musical temptation straight from Madrid, Spain.

What a delight it was to watch him play some of the soundtrack songs I’d been listening to for the last several months.  At one point, he threw in a sentimental favorite, Seattle, from his first CD.  No one was the wiser except me.  I proceeded to take plenty of photos and some video of Pedro performing.

On the Red Carpet

I didn’t know what to expect at this event.  I’d seen Hollywood premieres and red carpet events publicized on TV in the past.  It always looked so glamorous.  It seemed to be reserved for the biggest stars, and the beautiful people in Hollywood.  But here we were.

This was Pedro’s opportunity to bask in the limelight and to be acknowledged for his fantastic movie soundtrack.  I wanted to make sure that I fit in with the crowd as well.  Like most Hollywood actresses, I spent hours shopping for just the right dress, jewelry, shoes and so on.  After all, it was my fairy tale moment too.

On the red carpet with Pedro at the premiere of "Tempting Fate".

On the red carpet with Pedro at the premiere of “Tempting Fate”.

At the first break in Pedro’s music, we were asked by some fans to have our picture taken with them.  Those were posted on Facebook within minutes; and that was the start of the social media frenzy that ensued for the movie.  I was too busy with my digital camera to post online that night.  However, I did get some photos back to Pedro’s family in Spain.  I was also proud to be handing out Pedro’s business cards and pointing people to his Facebook pageLike, like, like.

Then we strolled over to the red carpet area.  The red carpet was laid down on an area between a row of life-sized movie posters to the left and a row of photographers and videographers on the right.  As you exited the second floor elevators into the event reception area you would walk right onto the red carpet and right into the line of paparazzi.  There are photos all over Facebook at Tempting Fate and Simon’s Aperture.

Pedro's interview with Unsenika Usoro from Afro Centric Television Network.

Pedro’s interview with Usenika Usoro from Afro Centric Television Network.

Media Interviews

We plunged into the fun and had our photos taken together.  Sky Houston, from Majic 102.1 radio station in Houston was on the red carpet interviewing people.  She asked Pedro how he heard of the event.  When he said he was the soundtrack composer, she interviewed him on the spot.  I introduced myself as well, but let Pedro do all of the talking.  He later said he was nervous, but it didn’t show.

Pedro’s second interview was with Usenika Usoro from Afro Centric Television Network in Houston.  Again Pedro did all of the talking, as I graciously walked off camera after our initial introductions.  That gave me the opportunity to get photos of Pedro during his interview.

Cast Arrival at the Meet & Greet 

Pedro performed on and off during the ‘meet and greet’ portion of the event.  People mingled and munched on fine appetizers and drinks in advance of the movie screening.  The Houston sky turned dark and a deluge of rain, thunder and lightning swept across the region just as the limousine carrying the actors arrived at the theater.  We watched from the balcony above as they did some publicity photos in the main theater lobby.

Watching overhead as the cast and crew arrive.

Watching overhead as the cast and crew arrive.

As luck would have it, the storm caused the power to go out to some of the theaters, but it did not affect our reception area.  It was also at this opportune time that the elevator lost its power and some of the actors were stuck between floors.  “Satan really doesn’t want this movie to get out,” I thought to myself as I sent another prayer up above.

Pedro meets John J Vogel, who plays Detective Travis in the movie.

Pedro meets John J Vogel, who plays Detective Travis in the movie.

When the power was restored and cast members started to have their turn at the red carpet treatment, the atmosphere turned more energetic and full of anticipation for the movie screening.  The cast had spent two weeks together filming the movie ten months earlier and now they were reunited.  They had formed a bond over the project.  They were like family, and the celebration certainly had that sort of feel to it.

Pedro on the other hand had watched the movie many times as he synchronized his music to the scenes.  He intimately knew the lines and the characters, but he never met the actors.  He was like an invisible collaborator, working remotely from Madrid.  He was very excited to meet everyone.

Kevin Nwankwor, the producer/director of Tempting Fate, is interviewed by Sky Houston, Majic 102.1 radio station.

Kevin Nwankwor, the producer/director of Tempting Fate, is interviewed by Sky Houston, Majic 102.1 radio station.

We watched from the sidelines as the actors and producers were interviewed by the media.  We had some brief opportunities to meet some of the cast.  They all knew who Pedro was and heard rave reviews of his music.  Pedro also finally met Kevin Nwankwor, his producer, face to face after almost exclusively communicating via email over the last ten months.

We were all here for the same reason.  We were eager and excited to see the VIP screening of Tempting Fate.  Stay tuned for the next post on Pedro’s musical pursuits to hear about the Tempting Fate movie.

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*Wondering where you can see this movie for yourself?  Tempting Fate was produced by KevStel Group, an independent production company based in Atlanta.  They are seeking distributors for release in 2015.

Houston We Have a Problem

It’s hard to believe that it’s been two weeks since traveling to Pedro’s Tempting Fate* movie première and my (his) so called fairy tale moment that I last wrote about. I’m back to reality in Seattle—integrating what feels like another major milestone and its emotions into my life. Pedro is back in Madrid celebrating his milestone with family and friends while preparing for the annual family holiday period on Mallorca—a place I got to experience myself last summer at this time.

However for 3.5 days in Houston I had the honor of watching the dreams of Pedro González Arbona come true—American style. Since I know friends and family are waiting to hear about the experience, I’m sharing it here without further delay. Please humor me as this is not my typical post, and is longer than usual.

Tempting Fate Cast & Crew

The cast & crew of ‘Tempting Fate’, produced by KevStel Group, at the Houston premiere, July 4, 2014.

Let me start by saying that while the evening and the weekend was a big success and we had a fantastic time, there were also many challenges that we had to face—separately and together. But like most dreams, there is a fair amount of work and determination involved to achieve them.

Destination Houston, U.S.A.

Getting Pedro to Houston was no small feat. For months we had been anticipating the Tempting Fate VIP private screening. Since Pedro was coming from such a long distance of 5,000 miles, the producer tried to get his flight sponsored by an airline. When that didn’t pan out, I lent my support by contacting people I knew in the travel industry. Unfortunately, none of that materialized into a ticket for Pedro either. He eventually got the funds on his own.

When it came time to purchase my tickets, I deliberately chose a flight that would arrive shortly before Pedro’s. I wanted to be at the gate upon his arrival and take photos as he departed the plane—to play the role of his paparazzi, an ongoing joke between us. Besides how often do you get the chance to actually meet someone at the airport gate anymore (post 9-11)?

Hurricane Arthur trackingAs I boarded my flight in Seattle, I knew Pedro was on the ground in Philadelphia waiting for his connecting flight to Houston. His flight was going to be slightly delayed. No worries, I thought—that just gives me some time to catch up on my writing.

When I landed in Houston and turned on my cell phone, my heart sank at the news that awaited me. His flight was cancelled due to hurricane Arthur; the airlines had put him up in a hotel, and he would arrive at 2 PM the next day—a mere four hours before the movie premiere. I was disappointed and deflated.

Navigating Houston on my Own

As I finally headed toward the baggage carousel at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, I was reminded of my travels from Mallorca to Barajas (Madrid) Airport last summer. I was expecting to be met by a mutual friend in Spain to help me with my luggage and checking in for the American leg of my flights home. He was a no show, and I was alone, just like I was now.

Houston mapOn this trip, I had been looking forward to Pedro’s help navigating through Houston to our hotel 40 miles away in Sugar Land, Texas. As I left the baggage claim area and walked out into the night air, I was hit with more reminders of Spain. The late night heat in Houston was thick with humidity and made my clothes stick to my skin. Then, even with the aid of a GPS, I was frustrated and lost within minutes of leaving the airport in my rental car.

Grounded Planes, But Spirits High

That night my sleep was interrupted multiple times with ‘pings’ from international text messages by Pedro’s parents and eventually from Pedro as well. When I went to bed the night before, I was ignorant to the havoc that hurricane Arthur was making along the East Coast.

I didn’t realize that the entire Philadelphia airport was closed down!

Within minutes of communicating with Pedro that morning, my adrenaline kicked into overdrive and I got out of bed to start researching flight activity at Philadelphia International Airport.

“What if they cancel my flight again and I’m too late for the premiere?” he asked me. “Pray everything is solved.”

“Of course,” I said trying to reassure him and calm his nerves. I was already multi-tasking in my mind, praying while texting him, and looking online for flight updates.

Flights were back on schedule at Philadelphia International Airport.

Flights were back on schedule at Philadelphia International Airport.

“Thank you, Lord for your mercy and your ways. Help us to lean on you and see you in the midst of our challenges. Give us peace. Clear the skies, literally, part the weather, and bring Pedro to Houston safely.”

“Amen,” he texted back.

Surprise Me God!

As soon as Pedro ended the chat, I was on my knees praying. “Surprise me God” has been a recurring prayer request lately as I let go of my expectations and give God greater freedom to work His ways and His will in my life. In the midst of the challenges we were facing, God managed to surprise us over and over again.

prayerTap, tap, tap was the noise I heard on the door, interrupting my prayers. It was Pedro’s producer. Wouldn’t you know it that for our first meeting I was in the hotel hallway in my robe and pajamas! Ok, that was a funny surprise God! But work was to be done.

For months Pedro and I waited for confirmation on whether he’d be able to perform at the premiere. His producer explained that the event planner was still trying to secure a keyboard for the event. That was another God-sized surprise, but no expectations on my part. After all, it was the 4th of July! How were they going to rent a keyboard on a holiday?

“Surprise me God! And Lord, while you’re at it, just get Pedro here safely and on time for the premiere.”

Our Airport Reunion

Saying that Texas is BIG is an understatement—likewise for the Houston airport. As luck would have it, I got lost at the airport trying to pick Pedro up. Although he didn’t check any luggage, we were to meet at the baggage claim area for his flight. What I didn’t know is that Houston has a baggage claim area for each terminal.

No broken bones, just a bruised ego.

No broken bones, just a bruised ego.

Under normal circumstances it would’ve been comical, but not when time was so limited. I rushed through the airport tram system between terminals to find Pedro, falling and twisting my foot in the process. In pain, and almost in tears, all I could think and selfishly pray was “please let me be able to walk the red carpet with Pedro and wear my new high-heeled shoes tonight!”

Meeting Pedro at the airport was a surreal moment for me. It had been almost a year since we last saw each other—saying farewell at the Palma Airport on Mallorca. And now through a twist of fate and the Lord’s favor, here we both were in a distant location thousands of miles from home. I almost didn’t recognize him. But when I heard him call my name, I followed the sound of his voice to catch a glimpse of him smiling near the baggage carousel.

After the standard European cheek kiss, now my routine greeting with my American friends as well, we rushed through the airport, tram system and all, (I hobbled), labored over finding the car in the parking garage labyrinth, and collapsed in the car. But before we drove away, we pulled his suit out of his luggage so the creases could fall out. There was no hope for his shirt though—ironing that would be my first job back at the hotel.

Arriving Houston

The composer and his paparazzi, I mean manager, finally reunited on American soil.

No More Problems in Houston

As we settled into our familiar conversations about life and our travels, Pedro texted his producer that he arrived and we were on our way to the hotel. His reply was the icing on the cake of God’s surprises for the day.  The keyboard was en route to the theater.  We just had to be there early for a sound check and for Pedro to get acquainted with the keyboard.

It would be a tight schedule for us, but none of that mattered. We’d be there; we’d be on time; and Pedro would perform—one of his greatest desires for the event.

Pedro toiled on the Tempting Fate soundtrack for nine months. We both faced many challenges in getting to the Houston premiere. Over the last few months, the famous line uttered by Astronaut Jim Lovell of Apollo 13 (portrayed by Tom Hanks in the movie), “Houston we have a problem,” seemed to be a recurring and somewhat comical theme; but no more.

As I rushed to dress for this Cinderella event, I marveled how we overcame each obstacle to get to this point in Pedro’s musical career. I was not going to let any more problems in Houston dampen his night. Even the pain and swelling in my foot was going to have to take a backseat to the joy in my heart. God was faithful and surprised us at each step along the way. We persevered!

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:4, NIV)

Stay tuned for my next post about Pedro’s musical pursuits to hear about the Tempting Fate red carpet event, the movie screening, and Pedro’s performance.

*Wondering where you can see this movie for yourself?  Tempting Fate was produced by KevStel Group, an independent production company based in Atlanta.  They are seeking distributors for release in 2015.

Update 2/12/2015: The Tempting Fate soundtrack has been released and the movie premieres across Nigeria and Ghana in July 2015.

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    I'm an author, writer, speaker, mentor & mom. I've struggled to find my voice all my life as I lived in the shadows of a mother with mental illness. Thankfully that was not the legacy that she handed down to me. It took a lot of recovery and deep healing work to rise above it.

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