Wednesday, October 14, 2015

#SymphonyofHorror The Boston Pops and the Berklee College of Music team up to give Nosferatu (1922) a new score

What: Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror  #SymphonyofHorror
Where: Symphony Hall in Boston, MA
Who: Keith Lockhart, The Boston Pops and eight student composers from Berklee College of Music
When: October 30th, 2015 at 8 PM (blood drive from 2-7 PM)
How: Tickets available at $37-$47

The Boston area is no stranger to Halloween screenings of F.W. Murnau’s silent horror film Nosferatu (1922). There at least one or two a year held locally with live musical accompaniment. What makes this particular event special? A new score. And not just any new score! One created by eight composers, Berklee College of Music students from all over the world, in collaboration with Keith Lockhart of the Boston Pops.

Years ago I attended a screening of Sunrise (1927) at the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, MA. It was a similar to the Nosferatu event. Eight student composers from the Berklee College of Music composed a section of the score, conducted their individual pieces as an orchestra performed the final overall score in accompaniment to Murnau’s classic film. Not only was it one of the best classic film screenings I have ever been to, in my original review I called it “one of the most fantastic experiences of my life.”

Needless to say I have high hopes for Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror! Here are some of the highlights of the event:

1 – Diverse group of student film composers from all over the world.
2 – Score created under the direction of Professor of Film Scoring Sheldon Mirowitz and Keith Lockhart of the Boston Pops.
3 – The renowned Boston Pops Orchestra will be performing the score, conducted by Keith Lockhart.
4 – The score was fine-tuned with the Symphony Hall acoustics in mind.
5 – The event will be turned into a short documentary called “The Making of Nosferatu”.
6 – This will be first time the Boston Pops Orchestra has ever accompanied a full-length silent film. It’s also the longest piece they’ve eve performed.
7 – Nosferatu will be screened from a HD digital transfer with 4K Christie projectors. The film is from the best source material from the Murnau estate.
8 – Brigham and Women’s Hospital will be hosting a blood drive from 2-7 PM at Symphony Hall before the event.
9 – Attendees are encouraged to dress up in Halloween costumes.

Below is the full press release of the event with more detail. I will be there to cover this event so expect to hear more from me soon! Follow hashtag #SymphonyofHorror on Twitter too.

There is another great screening of Nosferatu (1922) with my friend Jeff Rapsis who will be accompanying the film at the Somerville Mudflat Studio on October 24th !

From the Boston Pops Press Release:

“Over Halloween weekend, on Friday, October 30, at 8 p.m., the Boston Pops and conductor Keith Lockhart, in collaboration with Berklee College of Music, will bring the classic 1922 silent horror film Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror to the Symphony Hall stage, with an entirely new full symphonic score composed by Berklee’s finest student film composers. Nosferatu on Halloween is a groundbreaking, unprecedented collaborative project in which eight of Berklee’s finest student film composers will write a full-length symphonic score, under the direction of Professor of Film Scoring Sheldon Mirowitz, for what is widely considered the greatest silent honor film of all time, F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu (1922). The Boston Pops, under the direction of Keith Lockhart, will perform the score live-to-picture the night before Halloween. Tickets for Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror, ranging from $37 to $47, are available at or by calling 888-266-1200. Performance starts at 8 p.m.

The eight composers featured in the Nosferatu project are among the very best Film Scoring majors studying at Berklee College of Music today; they are students in college’s Scoring Silent Films course taught by Sheldon Mirowitz (Outside Providence, Missing in America): Amit Cohen (Israel), Wani Han (South Korea), Emily Joseph (United States), Victor Kong (Malaysia), Matthew Morris (Canada), Hyunsoo Nam (South Korea), Elena Nezhelskaya (Russia), and Joy Ngiaw Jing Yi (Malaysia). The student composers have worked closely with their teacher/adviser, Mr. Mirowitz, who began the project by composing the basic themes and superstructure for the work; each student composer then uses these themes to compose the music for the section of the movie they have been assigned (seven sections in all, each about 12-15 minutes in length). This approach—with all the sections (written by eight different composers) sharing the same themes—is how the score has coherence and integrity and comes across as a unified film score.

Video clip highlights of the October 30 performance will be featured on shortly after the performance takes place. In addition, Berklee College of Music is creating a short documentary entitled “The Making of Nosferatu,” which will include excerpts from the rehearsal and performance and will be featured at

Keith Lockhart (Source: Boston Pops)

“Nosferatu is universally acknowledged not only as the greatest silent horror film, but also as one of the most influential films of all time, so creating a new full symphonic score to this iconic cinematic masterpiece is definitely a daunting undertaking,” said Boston Pops Conductor Keith Lockhart. “We at the Boston Pops are excited to embark on this new collaboration with Berklee College of Music and are thrilled that it represents the most significant project in Boston Pops history in the area of presenting student-composed work.

Our hope is to offer a new dimension to the film for fans of Nosferatu and to introduce this amazing motion picture to movie lovers who might not otherwise be aficionados of the silent film genre. The project will also put a spotlight on the special role a film score plays in the silent movie genre--reinforcing how the music conveys not just mood and atmosphere, but supports the entire narrative of the film, making the score feel even more essential than in modern day film. And the timing couldn’t be better … setting the mood for a perfectly fantastic Halloween in 2015.”


The October 30 concert presentation of Nosferatu will present a new take on a relatively recent Boston Pops tradition of presenting movies at Symphony Hall with lush soundtracks performed live by the virtuosic musicians of the Boston Pops Orchestra; this is the first time in the history of the Boston Pops that the orchestra will accompany the presentation of a full-length silent film. The new score to Nosferatu will be the longest, continuous piece of music the Pops has ever performed. It is certainly the most extensive performance of a student-composed work by the Pops in its history. The presentation is part of Berklee’s Signature Series of concerts, in addition to being a featured event on the Boston Pops calendar.

Most major Silent Films had original scores performed live by an orchestra at their premiers, and Nosferatu is not exception—Hans Erdmann's has been lost and what remains now is a modern reconstitution of his score. But, with all Silent Films, the attraction for composers is great to compose new scores for these classic films, and over the decades many composers and musicians have written or improvised their own soundtracks to accompany Nosferatu. Few, however, have harnessed the power of a full symphonic orchestra to accomplish this task, much less augmented it with the signature sounds of classic electronic instruments like the Theremin and the Moog Modular Synthesizer, and brought the whole experience to the concert hall. The film being used for the Boston Pops/Berklee collaboration is a recent, high-definition digital transfer of the best source material, from the Murnau estate. It will be projected by two of the finest 4K Christie projectors available.


Silent film presentation, whether by collaboration with the Boston Pops, or in a performance by the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra, is the most direct, visceral means of experiencing the power of the film composer’s craft. Silent film is the ultimate challenge for a film composer. A silent film score must, in concert with the actors and staging, convey the narrative and emotional messages of the film. Scoring for silent film exercises and builds the film composer’s skills in a way that exceeds the task of composing for projects that employ dialogue and other sound. These are some of the greatest films of any era, whether sound or silent. The act of composing and performing a new score reinterprets and renews these classics for each succeeding generation. The computer technology employed in composing, and performing them live-to-picture, is completely up-to-the-minute. The only thing old about the art form of silent film music presentation is the date on the film. As a learning exercise, silent films, and Berklee’s Scoring Silent Films course, represent a rigorous and demanding test of those who would compose for film, television, video games, or any other long-form film/video form. It is superb means of explaining and demonstrating to young musicians the film composer’s task, while showing the heft of Berklee’s own film composition program.”

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