My young bride and I have experienced old silent movies mixed with modern music before.
We lived several years in Louisiana where Baton Rouge Gallery, operated by the city’s park system, offered a Music and Movies on the Lawn series. The monthly community gatherings provided a fun way to get introduced to early movies and local bands.
The Dallas Chamber Symphony, led by artistic director and conductor Richard McKay, on Oct. 13 provided us with a similar experience, but with a more classic approach and a safe-from-the-weather setting in Dallas art district.
The 13-piece orchestra opened its season by accompanying a screening of Buster Keaton’s 1923 comedy, Our Hospitality.
The delightful combination of classical chamber music mixed with classic cinema inspired a long and enthusiastic standing ovation from an audience that left the Moody Performance Hall still laughing and talking about the exciting and humorous conclusion.
From what I’ve seen, makers of silent movies compensated for the lack of spoken dialogue with a plenty of sight gags, slapstick, and melodrama. The 74-minute Our Hospitality offered plenty of all of that plus circus-like stunts, a little romance, and a lesson about the foolishness of long-held family grudges.
Our viewing experience was greatly enhanced by the chamber symphony’s live performance of an original score by Scott Glasgow, an award-winning composer with more than 25 films to his credit, including Marvel’s Captain America – Civil War.
The performance of his music provided extra tension to the more dramatic scenes and added playful energy to the more humorous ones.
We particularly enjoyed the way the instruments suggested without outright mimicry the sounds of a locomotive during a lengthy montage featuring the journey aboard a goofy train that looked like a series of stage coaches connected together.
Glasgow, who traveled to Dallas for the premier of his scored, reportedly experienced some drama of his own. He had to be rescued from a malfunctioning hotel elevator at the last moment so he could make it to the theater on time.
I’m glad he did. He deserved to see this fun performance he helped make possible.