Jorge Calandrelli
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Jorge Calandrelli


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"Interview with Jorge Calandrelli"

JP: Your great grandfather wrote a dictionary of philology?

JC: Yes, that’s right. Philology, as you know, is the study of the origins of language and literature. My great-grandfather, an Italian gentleman who lived in Rome and studied at the Vatican, was an expert in ancient and modern languages. An outstanding scholar, he was hired by the Argentine government to teach in the University of Buenos Aires so he moved to Argentina in the 1870s. Later he wrote an amazing dictionary “Philological Dictionary of the Compared Languages” that he completed through the letter “N” before he died. It was a magnificent undertaking¯a great work of art.

JP: You obviously inherited his love of and facility with languages. You speak many languages, Spanish, English, Portuguese, Italian and French, and seem to be comfortable anywhere in the world.

JC: I have had the good fortune of being able, as a musician, to travel extensively. I have worked in Europe, Japan, China, (Taiwan) and almost all South America. I wouldn’t say I speak fluently anything but English and Spanish, but I certainly can defend myself in French, Italian, Portuguese, and even German.

JP: Did your parents support the idea of you becoming a musician?

JC: My mother always did, my father not at first. He and my grandfather were both medical doctors. I think my father thought I would be a doctor, maybe a lawyer, but once he accepted the fact that I wanted to be a professional musician, he encouraged me to study every aspect of the craft. He said, “If you are going to be a musician, you better study everything in music, from A to Z.”

JP: And your mother?

I always had incredible support from my mother. I lived with her for many years and she was the most adorable person I had in my life… I loved her dearly! My father, grandfather, and uncle all played instruments by ear. My mother had studied piano seriously and played frequently in our home. I remember her playing beautifully Debussy, Faure and Chopin since I was very young. She passed away a few years ago at the age of 94. I’ll always miss her.

JP: Tell us more about your father.

JC: My father loved music and was a brilliant chess player besides being a very good doctor. Every Saturday when my brother and I expected to receive our allowance, our father would make us sit and listen to acts of a Wagner opera with him. After what seemed to be forever, he would finally give us our allowance and we ran off to see a John Wayne movie or something like that… He probably did this because he was a little nervous that we loved jazz and he wanted us to be “cultured people”. As a result Wagner’s music was not my favorite for most of my life, although eventually I rediscovered him with a new appreciation!..

JP: How old were you when you began playing the piano?

JC: I was four. I played by ear and tried to play anything that I heard. Beginning at age 8, I had formal lessons and studied Czerny, Bach and Mozart. Of course, I played tangos, and being from Argentina, the music I heard as a child was incredibly diverse¯tango, samba, bossa nova, folkloric music, modern jazz and classical. I organized my brothers and sisters in a vocal quartet and we learned to sing “Dream” in four-part harmonies. My parents were proud of that and made us sing for company in our home. Later in my life I wrote a new arrangement of “Dream,” based on the one I had done when I was a teenager. Without knowing it, I wanted to be an arranger even then, I guess.

JP: As a teenager you were in a band?

JC: When I went to Europe I joined a band when I was 19. We played Brazilian music, bossa nova and jazz. Can you imagine, someone raised in the conservative society of Buenos Aires, having an opportunity to spend three years in Europe? We were in Germany for a year and played everywhere in the country. I knew Germany better than most Germans. We also played in Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Holland, Spain and Belgium. When we were playing in Switzerland, the music director of Radio Geneva, Tony D’adario, pushed me to do my first arrangements. I had started to study on my own, with Russell Garcia’s book “The Composer Arranger”. He coached me to do it and the moment I heard it (my first arrangement), I almost fell on the floor. It was absolutely the biggest thrill of my life. I realized at that moment that that’s what I really wanted to do!

JP. What did you do after that tour?

JC: At age 22, I went back to Argentina and formed my jazz trio. When I met Astor Piazzola, he heard my trio and encouraged me, like my father, to seriously study music. He was a superhero in Argentina at that time. He was a powerful performer and always had the best musicians. We were playing in the club “676” and he was the headliner, with his fantastic quintet. He said, “Jorge, I like those harmonies, they are very good. But you should study seriously and become a real musici - By Jeannie Pool



As both composer and orchestrator, Jorge Calandrelli has been involved in various films and television mini-series.

2000 Composer (and music arranger/producer) of song, “A Love Before Time,” for the film Crouching Tiger/Hidden Dragon (Director Ang Lee)

1988 Composer of the TV movie I'll be Home for Christmas (Director: Marvin Chomsky)

1988 Composer of the TV movie The Town Bully (also known as A Friendly, Quiet Little Town / USA)

1987 Composer of the TV mini series The Billionaire Boys Club (Director: Marvin Chomsky);

1986 Orchestrator (uncredited) The Great Mouse Detective (Walt Disney Pictures, animated feature) Directed by Burny Mattinson, David Michener and John Musker and Ron Clements. (original music by Henry Mancini)

1986 Composer and orchestrator, The Color Purple (Director Steven Spielberg) Two cues composed: “The Separation” and “The First Letter.”

1982 Orchestrator, Tron (Director: Steven Lisberger); (original music by Wendy Carlos)

1980 Orchestrator (uncredited) The Shining (Director Stanley Kubrik); (original music by Wendy Carlos)

1976 Composer Sola Director: Raúl de la Torre (Argentina)


2007 Music Conductor for the new PBS Special of Andrea Bocelli filmed live in Teatro del Silenzio, Tuscany, Italy. Guest artists Sarah Brightman, Kenny G., Lang Lang, Laura Pausini and Chris Botti.

2007 Music arranger and conductor of the world premiere of “Cry Me A River,” sung by Ella Fitzgerald. Introduced by Quincy Jones on the PBS Special “A Tribute to Ella.”

2006 Music Arranger (uncredited): Tony Bennett: An American Classic, (Director Rob Marshall) (TV / DVD). (Based on the album)

2003 Musical Arranger/Conductor, Barbra Streisand: The Movie Album (DVD)

2000 Composer of songs, “Through the Eyes of a Child,” and “One More Year” for Our Favorite Things: Christmas in Vienna (TV / DVD). Featuring Placido Domingo, Tony Bennett, Vanessa Williams and Charlotte Church, The Vienna Symphony and the Gumpolskirchen Spatzen children Choir. All Vocal,Choir and orchestral arrangements by Jorge Calandrelli. Audio Produced by Jorge Calandrelli and Grace Row for Sony Classical.



Three-time Grammy winner with 24 nominations in all as well as Oscar-nominated JORGE CALANDRELLI is much in demand as a composer, arranger, and producer by major recording artists for a wide variety of projects, in the United States, Latin America and Europe. A musician of extraordinary versatility, he has been honored for his work in the pop, jazz, Latin, and classical fields.

Jorge Calandrelli has arranged, composed and produced for the following recording artists: Celine Dion, Tony Bennett, Barbra Streisand, Quincy Jones, Jennifer Lopez, Sting, Diana Krall, Julio Iglesias, Marc Anthony, Madonna, Elton John, Placido Domingo, Gloria Estefan, Johnny Mathis, Jane Monheit, Paul McCartney, Vanessa Williams, Barry Manilow, K. D. Lang, Josh Groban, Michael Bublé, Bono, Diane Schuur, Al Jarreau, Monica Mancini, Ricky Martin, Dave Grusin, Bette Midler, among others.

As both composer and orchestrator, Jorge Calandrelli has been involved in various films and television mini-series. Among the best known are: “Crouching Tiger/Hidden Dragon” (Director Ang Lee); "The Color Purple" (Director Steven Spielberg); "The Billionaire Boys Club" (Director: Marvin Chomsky); "Tron" (Director: Steven Lisberger); "The Shining" (Director Stanley Kubrik); "Sola" (Director: Raul De La Torre); "I'll be Home for Christmas” (Director: Marvin Chomsky) and "The Great Mouse Detective".

In 2006 Calandrelli was awarded his 24th Grammy Nomination for the arrangement of “For Once in my Life” performed by Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder on the legendary chart-breaking album Tony Bennett-Duets: An American Classic for which Calandrelli won his third Grammy. He was music director, arranger and conductor for the album that features Tony Bennett singing duets with music superstars, Barbra Streisand, Paul McCartney, Sting, Bono, George Michael, Elton John, James Taylor, K.D. Lang, Billy Joel, Diana Krall, Michael Bublé, and more. The 2006 TV special Tony Bennett: An American Classic, directed by Rob Marshall, which culminated celebrations of Bennett’s 80th birthday, is based on this album, the best-selling album of Bennett’s 50-year plus recording career.

In 2004, Calandrelli won a Grammy for Best Classical Crossover Album, for internationally-renown cello virtuoso Yo-Yo Ma’s “Obrigado Brazil.” In 2001 Calandrelli received an Oscar Nomination and was the winner of The Hong Kong Film Award for his song "A Love Before Time,” composed and produced for the motion picture "Crouching Tiger / Hidden Dragon." It was performed by Coco Lee at the Academy Awards Ceremony. Calandrelli received another Oscar Nomination for Best Original Score for the motion picture “The Color Purple.” In 1999 Calandrelli won a Grammy for "Soul of the Tango," performed by Yo-Yo Ma and was nominated on the same album for Best Instrumental Composition for “Tango Remembrances," written for Yo-Yo Ma and performed in a virtual duet, that interpolates out-takes from a 1987 recording session of the late Argentinean composer Astor Piazzolla (on bandoneón).

Jorge Calandrelli has produced and arranged for Sony Classical a Live Concert DVD/Album, “Our Favorite Things: Christmas in Vienna ” featuring Placido Domingo, Vanessa Williams, Tony Bennett, and Charlotte Church with the Vienna Symphony and the Gumpoldskirchner Children’s Choir. In addition to arranging, orchestrating and producing the music, Calandrelli composed two songs, "Through The Eyes of a Child" performed and premiered by Vanessa Williams and "One More Year" performed and premiered by Placido Domingo and Vanessa Williams as the show’s grand finale.

Calandrelli has received four Grammy nominations and wide critical acclaim for a series of albums for Teldec Classics which Calandrelli arranged and co-produced featuring Ettore Stratta and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra: including "Symphonic Tango," "Symphonic Boleros," "Symphonic Bossa Nova," and "As Time Goes By," with some original compositions by Calandrelli.

In the Latin Music field, Jorge is recognized as one of today’s top composer, arranger, and producers. During the three years of his songwriter/producer agreement with Estefan Enterprises he composed, produced and/or arranged for several artists including: Gloria Estefan, Jon Secada, Marc Anthony, Shakira, Ricky Martin, and Madonna. Other releases include four songs co-produced by Calandrelli for Alejandro Fernandez and two songs composed and produced for the successful Argentine folk artist Soledad. Calandrelli is the composer of Luis Miguel's hit song "Tu y Yo." The song has been listed among the most successful Latin works in the ASCAP repertoire, earning Calandrelli two awards.

Calandrelli’s concert works are also performed worldwide. He was recognized as “All Music Composer of the Year” for the London Wavendon Award for his classical composition “Concerto for Jazz Clarinet and Orchestra” premiered in several countries around the world and singled out in