Queen of Carthage

Composed By: Brian Byrne

Distributed by: Decca Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                Starring Keisha Castle-Hughes and Shiloh Fernandez (also a co-writer of the film), Queen of Carthage follows an American drifter who discovers a singer from New Zealand and develops an obsession for him.

                The musical score of Queen of Carthage was created by Irish composer Brian Byrne.  Since moving from Ireland to Los Angeles, California in 2003 to expand his career as a film and television score composer, Byrne has worked on scores for quite a few notable films including Zonad, The Good Doctor and Albert Nobbs.  In 2011, he was nominated for Breakout Composer of the Year by the International Film Music Critics Association and in 2012, he was nominated for a Golden Globe for best original song for the film Albert Nobbs.

                Queen of Carthage seems to loosely follow the story of Dido, founder of Carthage.  According to Greek mythology, Dido fell in love with the Trojan Prince Aeneas and, unable to bear his leaving her to fulfill his destiny, committed suicide.  The sorrowful tale seems to be reflected throughout the musical score of Queen of Carthage.  In fact, according to Brian Byrne, "Mardana Mayginnes (the director) told me that the only music he listened to whilst writing the script for Queen of Carthage was Dido's Lament by Purcell... Although the lament does not appear in the film, I knew from the outset that a classical soprano would be part of the orchestration palette."

                But the main focus of the score is the song Byrne wrote for it called Waltz With Me Under the Sun (with lyrics by Kasey Byrne).  Set to a romantic waltz beat and featuring the Norah Jones-like vocals of American pop singer Kristina Train.  The song becomes a theme throughout the film: "The score is mostly based on the melody for the song Waltz With Me Under the Sun. That was the first thing I wrote for the film and it just seemed to work as a theme throughout."  The mood of the score, featuring classical piano and strings, seems to darken as the soundtrack moves forward, but that theme always seems to be there.

                Even prior to realizing that the movie might reflect the Greek myth, I found that the musical score of Queen of Carthage seemed to speak of a tremendous love that goes unfulfilled.  I have yet to see a trailer for the film as it is in post-production, but have a feeling that I have guessed correctly about the premise of the movie.  If that is the case, Brian Byrne has created a musical score that perfectly defines the emotional drama of the film.  As a stand alone album, the score tells a story that one can understand without the aide of any sort of visuals.  An excellent composition by a talented composer.


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