Elia Cmiral & Family

Can you give a quick background about how you became a composer? How did you come to choose the life of a musician?I was born into an artistic family, and from my childhood I was surrounded by theater, music, books and art. My grandfather was a music educator, an organist and a composer who took composing classes with Antonin Dvorak. As a teenager I played guitar, piano and drums in bands. After that, I went to a music conservatory where I took composition and double-bass classes. Later on, I came to the U.S. and I was in the film scoring program at USC in Los Angeles. To become a musician was very simple. I didn't choose music, but music chose me.

How did you start to write film music?Back in Czechoslovakia, I actually started writing for theater. The transition between writing for theater and writing for film was very natural. I moved to Prague and was hanging out with an artistic crowd. It was very attractive to me to move into the film world as it reaches a much larger audience. At the same time I got my first movie to score. It was a student film but very good, poetic with a touch of bittersweet humor.

What does music mean to you? Of all the music you have composed, what is your favorite so far?Music and the need to create are an important part of my life. I need it as I need the air. Each score I compose is like my own child to me. I always have dear memories of its childhood. I really don't have favorites between them, though even I can see why one is more popular than the other.

What prompted you to call upon a feng shui expert?That was the year my first son Tamao was born. We were a happy family, but I felt that something was not quite right. Many projects I was involved with fell apart and I lost contacts with some people, all without any apparent reason. My wife Sachiko, who is a native of Japan, brought up an idea common there; to consult a feng shui expert. I didn't know very much about feng shui at the time but I would do anything to help us out.

What happened after your first consultation?At our very first consultation with Jenny, she carefully examined the house we were renting at that time, drawing out all the walls, measuring orientations, locating every room and entrance. Then she compared the results with our birth charts. Seeing the results she came to the conclusion that the house was "a trap house for the artists", as she put it. The only effective cure she suggested was to move out as soon as possible. She also promised to help us with examinations of the houses we would consider. We found the house, which even had a built-in music studio for me. After Jenny examined it, she said the house was perfect for us. We started packing and preparing to move. A night before the move, we found a bouquet of roses on our doorsteps. We didn't know whom it was from or what the roses meant. In the morning, when we were saying farewell to our old neighbors, we learned that the person who rented the house before us was a young and successful artist who within a year went bankrupt and committed suicide in the same house. The day we were moving was the anniversary of his death. Maybe some of his friends dropped off the roses. It sounds like a movie but all this is true.

How has it been in your new home compared to your first home?After we moved to our new house, I felt things calmed down. We felt more comfortable. We really enjoyed the house and immediately felt hope. Half a year later, I was working with the legendary director John Frankenheimer on the movie "Ronin". There is no way we can even try to compare these two places. In the first house we were choking. In the new house we felt alive, both in our work and family. As a matter of fact, my second son Philip was born last year. We are all happy here. We cannot thank Jenny enough for encouraging us to move, filling us with hope and energy.

You have a very intense job that demands endless creativity and time away from your family. What are some ways you and your family remain connected and yet allow for your creative space?I have my own space, office and studio in our home. It is completely separated, but still under the same roof. Even in very intense periods, I stay connected with my family. I might just join them at dinner, but at least they know I am here. It helps me to remember who I am and what I am doing and why. I'm blessed with a very tolerant and understanding wife and two great sons. Can anyone wish for more?

Do you have a message for our readers?Stay focused on what you do and do it full-heartedly. Everything is connected. Keep positive thoughts. There is always a way out of any trouble. Smile at least three times a day.

"To become a musician was very simple. I didn't choose music, but music chose me."

~Elia Cmiral, Composer