Introducing Maria Alfonsine, composer, lyricist and creator of our 2017 Stockland Christmas single, ‘Unexpected Joy.’ Delve behind the scenes as Maria takes you through her creative process, detailing exactly how she brought our characters’ holiday story to life – you’re sure to fall in love with our heart-warming short film all over again.
What style band did you use to record the single?
The acoustic nylon guitar and cello carry the melodies. The acoustic guitar is a universal instrument and can be found in almost every culture. It's easy to connect to, no matter where you're from, which is important. The vibrating strings of the cello also have a very direct way of connecting to people's emotions. The background is orchestrated with piano, a string ensemble, harp, marimba, guitars, a mix of percussion and handclaps and an ambient pad.
Do you feel as though the building melody emulates the emotions of the protagonists?
For me, it's important that both the story and the characters are supported by the music, that the visuals and sounds work together as one, telling the same story. I attached the excitement of the rhythmical content to Lucy, since we follow her as she creates the party. As human beings, we often feel a deep connection to rhythm, thanks to our heart beat. The excitement builds as we move through the piece as everyone comes together.
What inspired you to take up the challenge of bringing the Stockland Christmas campaign to life?
It's a very beautiful story with what might seem to be the relatively simple message of coming together, but in reality we often make it harder than it has to be. I find the power of love and relationships to be a very accessible source of inspiration because it's everywhere, in everyone.
How passionate are you about the philanthropic side of the holiday season and what do you hope to achieve through the donation of the profits of this single to Mission Australia?
I deeply wish that everyone could have a loving home where they feel safe. Christmas can be a very emotionally-charged holiday for many people and I'm very proud to have been a part of this project. Hopefully the outcome will create support and joy for a lot of people.
As a lyricist, did you find it difficult to tell a story purely instrumentally?
My work as a composer and lyricist is very varied. Words are not always the best, nor the easiest way of telling a story. There's plenty to choose from even when lyrics are not an option.
Did you identify with any of the characters in particular?
I very much identify with Lucy. I love bringing people together and making them happy. I can also relate to being far away from family [like Lee], since I'm originally from Sweden and haven't got any family in Australia. Luckily, I have the best friends, so I never feel alone.
Did you draw elements from your experience across a multitude of genres including musical theatre, folk and jazz?
My background and interest in different genres always influences my work. In Sweden, there is a traditional folk music called Visa, which is often performed on guitar with a heavy focus on storytelling. For me, it's very nostalgic, honest and close to the heart - a perfect way of telling an emotional story. The first section of the piece is influenced by this style of music, with an added element of Christmas. The later parts are more uplifting and my aim was to find a more multicultural tone, creating the feeling that everyone is welcome.
You can also download the single on iTunes, Apple Music, Google Play and Spotify. If you haven’t seen it yet, watch our short film here.
For more Christmas inspiration visit stockland.com.au/christmas