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An improvisational duet between avant-garde electric cello and silent film will be performed on Monday, September 13, at 8:30 pm in Park Hall. The performance is free and open to the public.

IC music school alum and experimental electric cellist Chris White will improvise with Robert Weine's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Germany, 1919), one of the landmark films of German expressionism as well as an early model for both the horror and film noir genres.

At the premiere in Germany, a full orchestra accompanied the film playing from an original score. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was aggressively marketed as an Art film with a capital A to appeal to a more elite audience.

As this important work of international art cinema film toured the world, however, local exhibitors provided their own musicians. They interpreted the film through improvisation and compilations from silent film accompaniment books. For the New York premiere in 1921, for example, the score was compiled from the modernist music of Schoenberg, Debussy, Stravinsky, and Prokofiev -- an unusual tactic for film music.

Chris White is changing how audiences think about the cello. White's playing combines the vibrancy of bowed string instruments with the urgency of direct communication with an audience. White has performed in Europe, Canada, and the United States. While living in Spain, he played with flamenco, Celtic, and jazz groups. White completed a master's degree in music performance at Ithaca College. Since then he has published articles on the history of jazz cello in STRINGS (Spring '89) and Down Beat (Feb. '89).

White performed with his jazz quartet at the First World Cello Congress (June 1988), the Quanzaine de Montréal (April 1992), the New Directions Cello Festival (1995, 1997, and 2001) and at the sixth American Cello Congress in Maryland (2001). He also performs regularly as a classical cellist with the Binghamton Symphony.

White founded and directs the New Directions Cello Association and Festival, which organizes an annual festival dedicated to nonclassical music. The festival's artistic advisors include David Baker, Ron Carter, David Darling, Yo-Yo Ma, and Julian Lloyd Weber. Visit his website: Chris White, Jazz Cellist.

This event is part of a continuing collaborative research initiative to explore the interrelationships between silent film, critical historiography, experimental music, and film theory in order to mobilize historical artifacts differently. The initiative investigates the combustive intersections between the analog and the digital.

The initiative is based on interdisciplinary collaborations among scholars, artists, and media professionals in the Ithaca community. Previous projects include Within Our Gates: Revisited and Remixed, with Fe Nunn Musical Quartet in February 2004 and Arctic Requiem: Nanook of the North Reconceived in April 2004. The initiative's work has been honored by the Robert Flaherty Film Seminars, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Australian Film Commission.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari/Chris White duet is supported through the generosity of the Division of Interdisciplinary and International Studies, the Office of the Provost, the School of Music, and cinema studies in the Department of Cinema and Photography.

Contributed by Patricia R. Zimmermann

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Electric Cellist Chris White | 0 Comments |
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