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Carleton Orchestra Combines Cinema and Media

November 21, 2005
By Karen Lee '07

In an unusual but refreshing change of pace, the Carleton Orchestra, under the new direction of former band conductor and Professor of Music Ronald Rodman, presented a night of music of the films, combining aspects of two Carleton departments, music and cinema and media studies.

Titled “The Movie,” the concert featured both obscure and popular film music ranging from the 1930s to the current decade. To enhance the movie music experience, a screen was placed on stage, displaying corresponding film scenes as the orchestra played.

The concert humorously began with the 20th Century Fox Fanfare that generally accompanies the company’s logo before its films. The night’s program included Philip Glass’ Academy Award-nominated suite from the movie “The Hours,” Camille Saint-Saens’ score from “L’assissinat de Duc du Guise,” Shostakovich’s suite from “The Gadfly,” the well-known music of the “Star Wars” suite.

The orchestral experience was further enhanced by the pre-concert lecture on “Music in Film” presented by Carol Donelan, assistant professor of cinema and media studies. Donelan presented film clips from various movies, discussing the fascinating moments in the history of film and music, as well as introducing the audience to “some parameters for thinking about and understanding the relationship between film and music.”

Beginning with a brief introduction of how music was first incorporated into film-making, Donelan said that film music may have possibly been introduced to drown out audience noise in the earlier days. She showed a rarely seen clip from the Dickson Experimental Sound Film, known as the world’s first known experiment in producing a motion picture with a recorded synchronized sound track. Eliciting much laughter from the audience, the film clip showed images of two males dancing while another individual accompanied them with violin music.

Donelan admitted that even in her own film courses, she does not necessarily go into depth when discussing film music and its importance in film-making. However, as Rodman wrote in the program notes, “musicologists and critical theorists have taken a second and third look at film music and have found a rich new field for academic study.” With this perspective, Donelan went on to discuss the various sound technologies for film, giving brief introductions to the music the orchestra later presented.

Carleton’s cinema and media studies department, which hopes to begin offering a full major in the fall of 2006 (pending faculty approval), has gained increasing on-campus recognition in the past few years--largely due to its heightened departmental popularity and the presentation of the high-profile film colloquiums.

The first annual Carleton Film Colloquium was held in April 2004 and featured Carleton alumna and “Lord of the Rings” producer Barrie Osborne ‘66, who presented a convocation, an illustrated lecture and a question and answer session, among others. This year’s Colloquium featured the critically-acclaimed director of “Whale Rider,” Niki Caro, who spoke and presented a screening of her new film “North Country” with producer Doug Claybourne. As part of the colloquium, presented in association with Walker Art Center, Caro fielded questions from the audience and attended a reception afterwards.

The department also will offer an off-campus study program exploring New Media in New York, London, Amsterdam and Berlin. The term New Media designates technological art forms and art-making techniques—particularly those associated with computers and the Internet—that have emerged in the last two decades. The participants will visit museums, galleries, artists and critics in four of the world's leading art cities and, in addition to engaging art and ideas first hand, students will make New Media themselves.

For more information on what’s happening in cinema and media studies at Carleton, visit http://www.medialab.blogs.com/mediaevents. For more information on the Carleton music department, visit http://apps.carleton.edu/curricular/musc .