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AOL/Digital City Boston Feature Article

Sound and Vision

by John Black - Movie Guy
Monday, December 27, 1999

The Boston Secession's show at the Somerville Theater next Saturday is, in many ways, a throwback to the early days of silent cinema: Audiences will be seeing a movie while listening to live musical accompaniment. The difference between then and now is that back then there was a solo organist providing a soundtrack of fast music for chase scenes and slow music for romantic moments. The Secession uses 30 musicians to create a multi-media experience designed as much to increase the audience's musical knowledge and enhance the film they're seeing.

“A show like this can really get people to open their ears up a little more to new kinds of music,” says Jane Ring Frank, the Boston Secession's artistic director. “People going to hear a concert of this music, who aren't familiar with these composers, may not be as open to what they are hearing just sitting there watching the musicians. Adding the visual component of a movie let's them relax a bit and safely experience this new music.”

“This area has a wonderful audience for classical music when it comes to the standard repertoire, but it's never really been friendly to any cutting edge 20th Century work,” she adds. “It's a barrier that really needs to be broken down.”

Musically, the Secession will be covering composers ranging from Beethoven to Nick Cave to Philip Glass and Rossini in their show this weekend; an eclectic mix, to say the least. As for the visual element of their show, they will be performing their music -- live -- while the audiences watch the classic Wim Wenders' film, 'Wings of Desire.'

“It's the perfect film to do this kind of show to,” proclaims Frank. “I love the movie and the themes of the film -- the divinity of humanity set against the backdrop of World War II -- and the gothic look of it are strong enough to stand up to a larger piece of music.”

When it came to pairing the music and the film, Frank says it took a lot of planning and a lot of precision. “I'm talking stop watch precision, timing things to the very second' she says with a laugh. 'Sometimes I had to match a particular piece of music to fit exactly with a moment I wanted to highlight in the film. Other times it would work the other way where we'd use the film to highlight the music. The key was the precision of the timing.”

Admitting that the melding of music and visual imagery was “one of the hardest things she and the musicians have ever endured,” Frank also admits she was absolutely thrilled the first time they performed the work live at the Coolidge Corner Cinema last year. “It all flowed together so well,” she says. “All those hours of work really paid off.”

Copyright 2000 America Online. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
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