CINEMATIC SOUNDSCAPES

Dallas Chamber Symphony debuts ambitious mash-up of modern music and silent movies

Dallas Chamber Symphony debuts ambitious mash-up of modern music and silent movies

Brian Satterwhite
Composer Brian Satterwhite wrote the score for A Sailor-Made Man, the premiere of the Dallas Chamber Symphony Film Score Series. Photo courtesy of Dallas Chamber Symphony
Promotional image for A Sailor-Made Man
A promotional image for Harold Lloyd's A Sailor-Made Man. Orange County Archives/Flickr
Brian Satterwhite
Promotional image for A Sailor-Made Man

Film and classical music fans alike will find something to love in Dallas Chamber Symphony’s ambitious new Film Score Series, launching Tuesday, November 13, at the Dallas City Performance Hall with a screening of Harold Lloyd’s A Sailor-Made Man

With the recent art house success of George Méliès’ restored Le Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon) — complete with a score from the French electronica band Air — the time is most definitely right for a mash-up of modern music with silent movies.

Artistic director and conductor Richard McKay added the series to the Dallas Chamber Symphony’s inaugural season as a way to change up the product.

 “[Classical music] can be a little stuffy, and we’re a lean and nimble organization that can take risks,” says artistic director Richard McKay.

“[Classical music] can be a little stuffy, and we’re a lean and nimble organization that can take risks,” he says. “Seeing as nothing like this was done in Dallas, we thought it was a great opportunity.”

For the first score, McKay approached friend and colleague Brian Satterwhite, best known for his soundtracks for the documentary Man on a Mission and the IMAX film Ride Around the World.

“You need a composer who is very thorough and writes a clean and clear score that musicians understand,” McKay says. “Brian is easy to work with and could hold our hand through the process of synchronizing music and film.”

With a composition deadline of six months and a requirement of working only with the symphony’s string section, Satterwhite originally selected the surrealist classic The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari for his first film.

Then came the twist — McKay decided Satterwhite should score two performances, the first one using 16 players with a premiere date of just about two months away.

 Composer Brian Satterwhite calls A Sailor-Made Man “the perfect film to introduce the audience to the experience.”

“The only thing more exciting than one commissioned score is two,” recalls the unflappable Satterwhite. “I’m gung-ho that way, and as a film composer, I’m used to doing things in a time crunch.”

In a matter of days, Satterwhite had selected A Sailor-Made Man for the series’ debut November 13, calling it “the perfect film to introduce the audience to the experience.” At 46 minutes long, Sailor’s story of a young playboy attempting to win the approval of his beloved’s father is considered comedian Harold Lloyd’s first feature. Satterwhite’s original choice of Caligari will be performed February 26.

Both films are just the first step in what both McKay and Satterwhite hope will be a long-running fixture in the chamber symphony’s yearly program. The duo plans to enlist the help of other composers as they expand the series in 2013.

“It’s definitely something we want to continue and keep up as a tradition,” Satterwhite says. “I’m such a huge fan of the silent film era, and this is an opportunity that opens a whole new world to audiences.”