Silent Orchestra, New Music for Silent Films Since 1998

Reviews

Our second DVD was released in July of 2003 from Image Entertainment. This is the 1923 film starring Alla Nazimova in the title role of Salomé.

“The alternate score, composed and performed by Silent Orchestra (Carlos Garza and Rich O’Meara), even though it only uses two players, gloriously recreates all the instruments of the orchestra (on electronic keyboards and percussion) and has all the musical qualities lacking in the other offering, including more than a passing reference to French Orientalism, great attention to the action, a genuinely heartfelt dramatic arc and a solid 5.1 surround recording.” – Benoit Racine, Amazon.com reviewer

“But the real treat on the disc is the score composed and performed by the Silent Orchestra (Carlos Garza and Rich O’Meara). As they did for Nosferatu (also released by Image), Garza and O’Meara have created a score that seamlessly melds with the images on the screen, the melodies so meticulously appropriate that it seems as if it has always existed with the film. From the opening feast, which is accompanied by subtle, ‘pagan’ drums, to the sinuous, sensuous rhythms to which Salome performs her deadly dance, the score is a marvel in ability to evoke exactly the right mood.” – Fred Hunter, Classics on DVD

“Salomé has a choice of two very good new scores, one in 2.0 and the other in 5.0.” – Glenn Erickson And if that’s not enough… They rated the DVD sound as “Excellent” ! From the review of Salomé on the DVD Talk web site.

How to Buy

“A little more than a year ago, in the auditorium of the National Gallery of Art’s East Building, the duo Silent Orchestra was anything but as they provided a stirring and remarkable soundtrack to the screening of the 1923 silent film ‘Salome.’ Carlos Garza and Rich O’Meara followed it that evening with another moving score to the 1921 movie ‘Camille.’ The combination of the contemporary, artful score and such early-20th-century film work left me eager to hear what Silent Orchestra would do with other movies from the pre-talkie era.”
– Eric Brace, The Washington Post

The Nosferatu Special Edition DVD has been available since January 2001 and it is already the best selling silent film ever for Image Entertainment! The public has spoken but what do the critics think?

“Everything about the score works perfectly with the film and being able to hear it live is an amazing way to see the film.”

– Rick “The Hat” Bman, Stop the Planet of the Apes… I Want to Get Off.

“One of the main reasons that Image Entertainment has replaced their 1998 DVD of Nosferatu comes on the soundtrack. In addition to Timothy Howard’s organ score … an eclectic duo named The Silent Orchestra perform an alternate score. … they weave a wonderfully atmospheric and intense sound. Particularly impressive is the pounding electronic aural assault that accompanies Count Orlak when he goes on the attack. ”
– Gary Johnson Images Journal

“The 5.0 score is by the Silent Orchestra. These guys know their shit! It truly adds so much more to the film. I gotta tip my hat to those mofos.”
– Zorbs DVD Anonymous

“The restored Nosferatu, available only in DVD, comes in an impressive, freshly struck print that gives you a choice of scores. Timothy Howard offers an organ accompaniment, but I rather prefer the more adventurous, eclectic score by the Silent Orchestra, which consists of just two busy musicians – Carlos Garza on keyboards and Rich O’Meara on percussion.”
– Desmond Ryan, Philadelphia Inquirer

“The real revelation of Image’s new transfer, though, is the spectacular score written and performed by The Silent Orchestra. The score is filled with beautiful melodies that perfectly reflect the action. It’s innovative and imaginative, and greatly enhances the experience of watching the film without distracting from it. I can honestly say that it was like seeing the film for the first time. Added to the score’s effectiveness is the perfect, lush 5.0 recording that includes some very interesting surround effects. ”
– Fred Hunter, The Classics on DVD

“It is a fairly modern sounding score that uses a full instrumentation for its music. It is not nearly as classical as it may seem appropriate for the film when you think about the approach at first, using themes and harmonies that partially stem from rock and jazz music rather than the classical orchestra approach. I was very pleasantly surprised however, by how well it works with the film. The music goes well with the images and manages to create just the right mood for the film.”
– Guido Henkel DVD Review

This edition features a new Dolby Digital 5.0 surround orchestral music score performed by The Silent Orchestra. The music is entertaining and full of exotic sounds.

The Silent Era

The film is avalable with several scores rooted in the 19th century period of the film. The Silent Orchestra score has far greater appeal to a younger audience. It reminds me of Franz Waxman and Danny Elfman.”
– David Shepard, Film Preservation Associates”

OK, so you don’t believe reviewers? Here’s what an Amazon.com customer had to say…

The basic audio track is an organ score derived from early-19th-century Romantic composers. Married to the film’s flickering tinted images, this makes ideal Halloween (or, indeed, any post-midnight) viewing. The second audio score is more experimental, more modern, and much, much more fun. Whereas the organ track basically lies underneath the movie and provides a traditional (if static) experience, the “Silent Orchestra” compositions give the undead film a new life. This rock-jazz-classical track positively breathes in the way that Dracula never could.

– Jason A. Miller, New York, New York (Customer reviewer for Amazon.com)

The Thirteenth Virginia Film Festival

We received a lot of wonderful feedback from folks attending the Thirteenth Virginia Film Festival. Our performance of Nosferatu was the opening event of this year’s festival. Here’s what festival director, Richard Herskowitz, had to say about us in his wrapup report:

“The festival was highlighted by three extraordinary screenings at Culbreth Theater that were among the most memorable in Festival history. The opening night presentation was a double feature of Nosferatu and Shadow of the vampire, with Silent Orchestra performing its majestic score for Nosferatu. Both the night’s standing ovation and the acclaim registered in the audience surveys registered great appreciation for the revelatory effect of juxtaposing the two films and adding a contemporary score.”

“The film was accompanied by a new soundtrack by the Silent Orchestra, a two man group that put on a hell of a live performance. We were informed by David Shepard, the archivist who restored the print, that this print along with the new soundtrack, will be released on DVD December 31, not coincidently two days after the release of Shadow of the Vampire to theaters.” – John Shea TNMC Movies

Nosferatu World Premiere, 1999

“I went to hear Silent Orchestra perform Nosferatu last Friday and was really impressed. [Their] grasp of long forms and ability to mirror the film maker’s mood exceeded my wildest expectations. [Silent Orchestra] have evolved into top notch composers for film. The place was packed and they were turning people away. A production of this quality deserves a far larger venue.” – Jennifer Cutting, Internationally Acclaimed Folk artist and World Music specialist.

National Museum of Women in the Arts

The audience surveys from our recent performance at the National Museum of Women in the Arts indicated unanimous approval. Every review was a 5 out of 5 stars! Comments included such accolades as, “stupendous,” “marvelous performance,” and “We want to have 10,000 of their babies!”

Reviews of films we have scored or performed

Roger Ebert has an excellent essay on NOSFERATU (1922). This review has nothing to do with our score or the Image Entertainment DVD but Ebert has great insight into the film and the craft of film making. He is also a national treasure.


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