The College’s Concert Orchestra enjoyed a stimulating and unusual challenge on Saturday night; providing the live accompaniment to the screening of one of silent cinema’s greatest movies, Safety Last, in the Dora Stoutzker Hall.
Screening a silent film with a live orchestra poses particular challenges for a musician. But as Director of Music, Kevin Price, points out it gives the students a great experience of being a studio musician, having to play with complete precision and ensuring they synchronise with the score, as well as reflecting the style of playing at the time – the 1920’s.
“When we watch a feature film we take it for granted that there’s a live symphony orchestra providing the accompaniment. Having the orchestra there physically reminds the audience of this as an art form, of its historical roots and the way that classical music is evolving.
“Timing is crucially important and in rehearsal the real challenge for the orchestra is to not to keep looking at the movie. They have to get to know it and then totally ignore it. The challenge for the conductor is to keep an eye on BOTH the orchestra AND the movie.”
Postgraduate violinist Dayna Townsend adds:
“It was a completely different environment for us and provided an invaluable preparation for our future careers.
We need to be multi skilled and lots of orchestras are now playing to live films as its increasingly bringing in new audiences, so having this experience was brilliant.”
Suzanne Lloyd, Harold’s granddaughter took part in an exclusive Q&A session onstage before the film was screened.
Talking with the College’s Senior Lecturer in Stage and Production, and lifelong Harold Lloyd fan, Daz James, she said, “It’s so wonderful to have this film playing in Wales, and at such a great arts institution as the Royal Welsh College.”
Feature image credit: courtesy of Park Circus/Harold Lloyd Entertainment