A natural dramatist and entertainer at heart, you can see Zavod is in his element, loving and living music and every scene of his real life movie.

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A Zany Composer Of Many Faces

Article by: Alice Greenberger; (Photography: Craig Abraham)
Featured in The Age - 1988

Musician Allan Zavod: A natural dramatist and entertainer at heart.

A natural dramatist and entertainer at heart, you can see Zavod is in his element, loving and living music and every scene of his real life movie.

Allan Zavod has a face that changes rapidly. From an intense, brooding composer and creator, to playful, zany comedian and clown. Watching him at work in the studio he is elastic and fluid, but in control at all times. He is as much a master of emotions as he is a highly talented and disciplined keyboard player, composer, and conductor.

Back in Australia after many colourful years of performing and recording with some of the music greats such as the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Maynard Ferguson, Woody Herman, Jean-Luc Ponty and Frank Zappa, he is in the studio composing and recording a new film soundtrack.

Film scores for "Death of a Soldier", "The Time Guardian", The Howling III" behind him, this is his sixth film score in two years and he thrives on the intensity of his work.

"With music on film you are working with the emotional intent and the hidden meanings between the characters, the sub-text, the truth of a situation, danger and betrayal," he says, "Sometimes a simple sounds can create or break the entire moment. The power of music is that it takes all the sterility out of a situation."

There is a sudden powerful clash of sounds filling the studio to fever pitch and I am literally gripping my chair. Zavod is grinning. "People only hear the feeling, they're moved. That's all I care about, that is my gift.

"But the other great thing about working with film is the wonderful opportunity to diversify, to explore different styles and learn new aspects of music while you are working."

A natural dramatist and entertainer at heart, you can see Zavod is in his element, loving and living music and every scene of his real life movie.

Coming from a musical lineage (Zavod's farther is a performing violinist) was part of his inspiration and impetus. And Zavod himself was a classically trained pianist before graduating from Melbourne University with a music degree and leaving to live and work overseas.

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"Having these traditional roots is a great advantage in this synthesiser age because I can write for an orchestra whereas many new composers can't. But, because of all the new toys available in electronic and acoustic sound it is an exciting moment in history for musicians. We're at a point where technology helps us combine the whole history of global music through Synthesizers."

Underlying all of his accomplishments you can sense a vital concentrated and disciplined bundle of energy, and acute business nose and a definite entrepreneurial flair.

"Like most musicians on the road to greatness and fame I have had to do it all, from weddings and bar-mitzvah's, to the world's greatest concert halls," chuckles Zavod. But, he has had to develop a sense of awareness and a sense of survival.

"It's not like the old days, the music world is very much part of the business world, and even though I have the advice of managers, agents and a good lawyer I still need to know it all innately."

Recently Zavod had added to his list of credits by composing the winning song, and Australia's entry, into the recent Asian Broadcasting Union's Song Competition staged in Kuala Lumpur. He also wrote the soundtrack for the winning Monsanto Commercial submitted by Young and Rubican Melbourne to the International Film and Television Awards in New York.

As Zavod continues to hone his craft he tries to create a balance between his performing and composing careers.

With a grant from the Australia Council he is finishing "Concerto Australiana", which will be performed on Australia Day for the Bicentenary in Sydney by the Australian Youth Orchestra as the ships come in.

At the same time he is writing four arrangements for Kate Ceberano to be performed on 16 January at the Melbourne Concert Hall. On 9 January he himself will be performing "Rhapsody in Blue" with the Australian Pops Orchestra conducted by Ettore Stratta.

As for his greatest moment, "The birth of my son Zak; my greatest moment as a musician is yet to come."