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Music students break the silence on classic films

* 2 June 2004 *

Music students break the silence on classic films

A silent film classic is to get a 21st-century update with the addition of a new musical score written and performed by members of the University of Sussex music department.

The University of Sussex Twentieth Century Ensemble takes to the main stage at the Gardner Arts Centre on Thursday 10 June at 8pm, and one of the highlights of an entertaining and unusual programme will be the premiere of a new score by music tutor Paul Robinson for the silent film comedy One Week (1920). The film featured Hollywood icon and stuntman extraordinaire Buster Keaton in his first starring film role.

The event also offers a rare chance to see the classic surrealist film Entr'acte by Rene Clair (1924) on a big screen, accompanied live by an orchestra. The University's Twentieth Century Ensemble, conducted by music lecturer Ed Hughes, will be performing the original film score by the French composer Erik Satie, famous for his piano work, Trois Gymnopédies.

Entr'acte caused a sensation at its first performance in 1924 with an array of "special effects" way ahead of its time, including experimental camerawork and absurdist images, with the likes of surrealist photographer Man Ray appearing in cameo roles.

The evening will also feature a performance of Varese's Hyperprism (1923) - a startling work for nine wind instruments and 13 percussionists (including a siren operator) - that makes its unique contribution to an evening of 1920s modernism.

Other highlights include Ravel's Ma Mere L'Oye (Mother Goose,) performed on the University's Steinway piano by Professor Martin Butler and second-year student Rudi Eastwood, as well as several world-premiere performances of new works by Sussex students Nicola Cassidy, Fumiko Miyachi, Alison Kay and Peter Cattermoul.

Dr Nic McKay, head of the Music Department, says: "I'm delighted that the University's Twentieth Century Ensemble is collaborating with the Gardner's film programme, which has also been featuring short films by student film makers. The concert is part of the School of Humanities' rapidly developing initiatives in film and the creative and performing arts. The students are really enjoying the challenge of performing live music to silent film, and it should be a great evening. I hope this will be the first of many such occasions."

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