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Movies: the future of the symphony?

Posted at 6:33 PM on January 9, 2008 by Euan Kerr

Minnesota Orchestra conductor Osmo Vanska admits he's presented himself with a huge challenge. He's preparing to conduct the live accompaniment for a screening of Charlie Chaplin's "City Lights" on the 17th and 18th, and it's a doozy of a score.

Chaplin himself wrote the score, and he left very precise instructions as to what notes should be playing as particular images play across the screen. Vanska is known for his careful preparation, but adding the need to keep in synch with a film is something new. He's decided to have a small monitor installed on the podium because he won't have time to keep looking up at the screen.

He quietly admits that he left an even harder job to his friend (and former conducting student) Ese Heikkila, who will conduct the Minnesota Orchestra performing Shostokovich during a screening of "The Battleship Potempkin" on January 26th.

Vanska points out that many moviegoers who believe they don't listen to symphonic music are plain wrong, and he's hoping that these programs, along with concerts featuring more recent film music, including an evening of science fiction music introduced Mr Sulu himself, George Takei, will help introduce, (or rather re-introduce) new audiences to the concert hall.

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