Q&A with Joaquim Badia, Composer, Orchestrator, and Pianist | Berklee Valencia Campus

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Q&A with Joaquim Badia, Composer, Orchestrator, and Pianist

“This master’s made me employable in the field of film music at many different levels.” – Joaquim Badia M.M. ’16

Joaquim Badia M.M. ’16 has spent his career moving between the worlds of film and classical music. An accomplished composer and pianist, he’s written music for the films of veteran Spanish director Ventura Pons (Univers(o) Pecanins, Miss Dalí, Sabates Grosses) and won numerous chamber music prizes and composition awards.

We recently talked to him about his career as a composer, how a connection from Berklee Valencia helped him land a gig on a new Netflix film, and why he loves singing in the London Symphony Chorus.

Why did you decide to pursue Berklee’s Master of Music in Scoring for Film, Television, and Video Games program?

After finishing my undergraduate degree in piano performance at the Royal College of Music in London, it had become clear that the life of a concert pianist didn’t appeal to me, so I started looking into other courses, hoping something would spark my interest. I can’t say I knew exactly what I was getting into when I decided to join the program, but I’m immensely glad I did.  

How did your experience at Berklee influence you as a professional?

Not only has this master’s made me employable in the field of film music at many different levels, it provided us with such strong knowledge across the board that I feel ready to help other composers, orchestrators, and arrangers. Before, I had no idea that film music would become my passion, and so I would have not been inclined to consider it as a viable professional career.

Why would you tell other students to come to the Valencia campus to study?

Your perception of music and of how musical compositions are created changes the moment you have to start producing pieces three or four times a week. You start developing your own compositional shortcuts—also Sibelius, Digital Performer, and Pro Tools shortcuts—and start honing your instincts so that you can trust them better. It opened me up to a completely different way of appreciating music and made me pay attention to aspects of it that I’d never considered important in the past. I learned about the malleability of musical elements to achieve very specific emotional and almost physical reactions in the listener.

You mainly compose for media but you also write concert music. Can you give us some examples of a few of the projects you have worked on since you graduated?

I have been so busy with my work for media that I’ve not looked for any concert music opportunities in the last two years. I do however keep a personal journal of sketches: a contemporary string quartet, a large-scale choral and orchestral piece. I’m also working on a personal folky/jazzy album with a friend of mine, and I do some choral arrangements every now and then for my old choir in Barcelona.

One of your latest works is the Netflix production A pesar de todo (Despite Everything). How did you land this job and what did you enjoy the most about it?

I landed that job through an old teacher of mine. The amazing thing about the staff at Berklee Valencia is that they are all active professionals in their fields, so in a way your networking begins the first day you start the master’s. It was an insanely intense experience and what I enjoyed most of it was being able to feel on top of it for most of the process, and being part of a professional team that was both supportive and encouraging. I particularly enjoyed having to write a song in one day, then reconnecting with one of my old friends from the Purcell School to record the vocals.

You also sing at the London Symphony Chorus.

We’re involved in such amazing productions, being conducted by world-class conductors and singing next to the London Symphony Orchestra and other amazing bands, that I can’t think of a better way of enjoying music away from my computer. I feel it is also crucial for film composers to experience music and music performances in a linear way.

What are your current and future career plans?

My idea is to keep doing what I’m doing, but bigger and better. I’d love to be involved in more projects that have a social impact. Imagine what it would be like to write the music for a film that actually changes people’s lives.