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The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view

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Posted by Kimberly Capehart at 1:37PM
The Sage Chapel at Cornell University

Blog posting written by Kimberly Capehart, Documentary Studies and Production ’16, FLEFF Blogger, Cherry Hill, NJ

On Tuesday, January 28th, the Cloud Chamber Orchestra accompanied the silent ethnographic documentary, Grass: A Nation’s Battle for Life (you can read Blaize's blog post for a synopsis of the film as well as her reflection on the screening!). 

The screening took place in the historic Sage Chapel on a snowy hill of the Cornell University campus. It was my first time inside the Sage Chapel and I was amazed by its beautiful interior: abound with stained glass, hand-painted designs on the lofted rafters, and elegant mosaics surrounding its altar and apse.

Despite the beauty of the chapel, the real delight was the Cloud Chamber Orchestra who were situated in front of a giant screen that had been placed at the alter. As a pleasant surprise the group, which is typically comprised of only three men, had an additional member in the form of pianist Peter Dodge’s son, playing percussion. The addition of a fourth member greatly contributed to the richness of the sound echoing throughout the chapel.

An intriguing combination of electric guitar and other electric instruments performed by Robby Aceto, cello performed by Chris White, piano and horns performed by Peter Dodge, and percussion performed by his son perfectly accompanied the silent documentary. The instrumentation created an ethereal ambience during slower parts of the film and also matched the energy of more exciting parts of the film. 

Though there were a number of technological malfunctions with the projector due to the cold interior of the chapel, the group’s improvised score held the attention of the audience even when the film cut out. 

It was incredible to watch these musicians as they played: they, themselves, watching the film to get a feel for what they wanted to play.

Aceto, White, Dodge and Dodge received a standing ovation as they lowered their instruments as the film ended. A gracious group of musicians, they hung around after the chapel began to empty to talk to students, friends, neighbors, and the like.

Overall, it was an excellent performance to accompany a fantastic documentary. Don’t miss out on your next chance to see the Cloud Chamber Orchestra, when they improvise a live score to the classic Sergei Eisenstein film Battleship Potemkin during this year’s Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival!

What silent film would you like to see scored by the Cloud Chamber Orchestra?

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