Tracker Pixel for Entry

​It’s live! IT’S LIVE!

by John Showalter | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cinema | October 11th, 2017

Over the last several weeks, the Concordia Orchestra has been preparing for the challenge

Since Mary Shelley first published her Gothic horror novel in 1818, “Frankenstein” has been read by millions. The classic tale of an overly ambitious scientist who ‘plays God’ by creating new life, and the tragedy that results when he doesn’t take responsibility for his creation, have inspired generations of readers and writers.

Arguably just as influential in the cinematic world is the 1931 Universal Studios adaptation. Though some may question its faithfulness to the source material, the film “Frankenstein” has indelibly created a place for itself in popular culture with its image of the lumbering monstrosity with bolts protruding from its neck, played by Boris Karloff.

Surprisingly enough, despite the immortal place Universal Studios’ “Frankenstein” has secured in the canon of American film and the fact it was a talkie, it is missing something that many moviegoers take for granted: a soundtrack.

Other than music during the opening and closing credits and some music from an in-scene polka band at one point, there is no score. They did not have the technology at the time to add a second sound track.

It is just as surprising that it took almost seventy years since the premier of the film for someone to take up the task of composing music.

In 2001, over the course of six weeks, American composer Michael Shapiro stepped up to the task of composing what the film “Frankenstein” had missed for so long.

A prolific composer as well as the music composer and director for the New York-based Chappaqua Orchestra, Shapiro is also a huge fan of the early Universal Studios horror films.

After the opening of an adjunct theater near the Lincoln Center Film Society, Shapiro felt compelled to forge a collaboration between the theatre and his own ensemble. Since then, his “Frankenstein: The Movie Score” has had over thirty productions. The piece comes in three different orchestrations: a wind ensemble, a chamber orchestra of about twenty-five musicians, and a full orchestra of seventy-five.

On the evening of Tuesday, October 17th, Shapiro’s piece will be making its premiere in Fargo at -- where else -- the Fargo Theatre. “I’m thrilled to perform at the Fargo Theatre, which has an orchestra pit and is a classic movie palace, built only a few years before Frankenstein premiered in 1931. Perhaps it even played in the Fargo Theatre then.”

Shapiro himself will be arriving on Monday the 16th, in order to conduct the orchestra through the rehearsal, before he conducts the live show the next night.

Which orchestra will be stepping up to the challenge of performing the piece? The Concordia Orchestra. Over the last several weeks their director of orchestral activities, German-American Kevin Sutterlin, who stepped into the role in the fall of 2016, has been preparing the orchestra for the challenge.

And it is quite a challenge, according to Sutterlin. “It’s difficult and tricky. There are a lot of rhythmic intricacies.” He noted that two things add to the difficulty of preparing for this already challenging piece. The first is that this is one of several projects that the Concordia Orchestra has to juggle during this season.

The other has to do with the technique of accompanying the film itself. Generally, when an orchestra scores a film, not only will they have the film projected on the big screen for the orchestra to have as a visual reference, but they often use one of several methods to know when to enter with musical accompaniment.

One, for example, is the click track, where a clicking sound will signal the entrance of the orchestra, who then begin playing along with the scene being scored.

Another is a monitor used by the conductor which will often display a red line on the film where he should give the cue to begin. The performance of “Frankenstein: The Movie Score” uses none.

Sutterlin pointed out that this grants some freedom to each conductor on how best to conduct the piece, and makes every performance truly unique.

But the combination of a number of rhythmic shifts and intricacies, along with the lack of any other cues than the film itself, create an interesting challenge for orchestras. He and the Concordia Orchestra are up to the task, however, as is the Fargo Theatre.

Sutterlin mentioned how excited he is about the opportunity to have the performance at the historic Fargo Theatre. “You can tell it’s not about the money, it’s about the experience, for the students and the audience.”

One might wonder what a new film score for “Frankenstein” adds to the experience of the original film, which went decades without a soundtrack. “It adds a lot,” said Sutterlin, who admitted he had not seen the film until recently. “It adds foreshadowing. It adds more schmaltz to romantic scenes. Sometimes it adds humor,” he said, pointing out a big orchestral hit that occurs when Igor jumps at a skeleton in a lab when he is looking for a brain to steal for the monster.

Shapiro said that, although the original film is creepy in itself, “It’s in great need of music to amplify and ‘scarify’ the movie.” He compared the piece to a highly dramatic one-act opera. “I hope the music will get under the listeners’ skin.”

IF YOU GO

Michael Shapiro, Concordia Orchestra: ‘Frankenstein’ 

Tuesday, October 17; doors 6:30pm, film 7:30 

Fargo Theatre, 314 Broadway N, 701-239-8385 

Tickets in person only at box office, $10, students $7

Recently in:

BISMARCK– The debate over whether the state needs an ethics commission has been ongoing for years, four times defeated by the legislature. This year, however, concerned citizens turned to the power of the initiated measure, and…

There will be a rocking event on coming this Thursday called Night Bazaar by Folkways. Night Bazaar is an event highlighting the community with a full spectrum of unique experiences, food, music, art and performances. Night Bazaar…

Thursday, August 23, 5-6:30 p.m.Plains Art Museum, 704 1st Ave. NDr. Craig Howe, Director of the Center for American Indian Research and Native Studies (CAIRNS), will lead an art and poetry workshop in conjunction with the…

On August 14, The Bismarck Tribune reported that “A popular insecticide could be banned for agricultural use.” Popular as it may be I can think of a whole slew of adjectives that would be more appropriate like questionable,…

Well, Mr. President, Have You No Sense Of Decency Sir, At Long Last?We might have another flag debate in this country. We still see the Confederate symbol flying in activities promoted by white supremacists on the streets of…

FARGO - A collection of memories from High Plains Reader's annual Cocktail Showdown. Participants were judged on creativity, flavor, and presentation; and this year we added a new category. Like years before, each establishment was…

By Ben Myhre benmyhre35@gmail.com If you are a gardener in the area, you know that this is the time of year when zucchini becomes plentiful. In fact, many have a tough time using all of it. You may see just a small little zucchini…

Woodstock: even people who were born years after the original three-day music festival recognize the name. The event, which took place between August 15th and 18th at Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in southern New York and attracted…

Elsie Fisher’s Kayla Day is the lonely but indefatigable middle-school protagonist of first-time feature filmmaker Bo Burnham’s “Eighth Grade,” a winning addition to the pantheon of the adolescent cinematic bildungsroman.…

It may be cliche to say the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, but when wet plate artist Shane Balkowitsch found out that his 15-year-old daughter Abby Balkowitsch was following in his photography footsteps, he was…

By Stella Mehlhoffstellamehlhoff@gmail.comAs I stared out of Guthrie Theater’s Amber room at a bird’s eye of the cityscape and river below, I hardly took in the night lights, my mind was too focused on the art I had just…

Fargo has its share of people who are passionate about stand-up comedy, even if the success of clubs devoted to it has been mixed. Despite the fact we have seen places like Courtney’s Comedy Club and Level 2 Comedy Club close…

When I was first introduced to the traditional spirit of my ancestors, Akvavit (or aquavit), I never thought I’d ever find myself standing next to a giant “Viking” ship while comparing different brands of the “water of…

I’m a big man, I’m tall and powerful, but this also causes some issues in the body department. I suffer from acute scoliosis in my lower back, and pain radiates from this area on a daily basis. I have only ever had one massage…

By Melissa Martinmelissamartincounselor@live.comThink back to one of your worst small decisions. Then answer the following questions:How did you make the decision?What happened after the decision?When did you know it was the worst…

Well, after nearly a dozen years of delay, it looks like Billings County is finally going to build a bridge over the Little Missouri State Scenic River north of Medora. The county posted a notice in the Federal Register on October…