Behind the Scenes - Composer Peter Valentin

How did you get involved with HEALING?
I first met director David Unterberg in 1997, when he was filming an open air theater event, "Half the Horizon," a piece for aircraft and dancers, for which I had written the score. But I already knew of him from his work as adventure and extreme sports filmmaker. And so you can imagine my initial surprise when he contacted me for his documentary about John of God. It's interesting to see how closely related spirituality and adventure can be, both pushing up against conventional borders.

How did you start to develop the score for HEALING?
From the get-go, David wanted me to compose vocal music, to be performed by my wife, Ulrike Valentin, whose voice he knew and loved. And it was important to David that an Ave Maria is included, since Maria does play a prominent role in the Casa.

Ave Maria (Vergin tutto amor) is what is called a "Preghiera," a mournful prayer filled with both, humbleness and hope. I used this as a clue in finding the overall score. I tried to express musically what I see in the faces of the people in HEALING, people who talk about pain and suffering, but also their trust, faith, and their deepest wishes. For this, the voice as instrument is especially suitable. But there are also moments in the score that underline the atmosphere in the film through repetition and minimalist reduction of musical motifs.

You are collaborating with your wife…
I've composed numerous pieces for my classically trained wife, and each time the collaboration is especially wonderful for both of us. I love the sound of her voice and she understands my music in a unique, intimate way. My wife is also the one person in the world who first hears and talks with me about each and every piece of music I compose.

Which in your versatile body of work is among your favorites?
My work allows me to express myself musically, and again and again, this gives me a profound sense of happiness. I like composing for symphonic orchestras as much as for just a hand full of instruments, but my favorite moment is when the written music is performed, and spontaneous sparks fly.

What are you working on at the moment?
Presently, I'm scoring a theater project, which will premiere next year, and I'm working on a feature film. And I'm also putting together the HEALING soundtrack CD, to be released sometime this year, so please stay tuned.

For more about Peter Valentin, and samples of his music, visit

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