Will Call #72 — NTRVW: Joanna Seaton & Donald Sosin on scoring for silent film

The Greylock Glass
Dec 20, 2019 · 3 min read

by Jason Velazquez

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We speak with two artists who keep alive a musical pursuit born during the nascent sensation of cinema — the scoring of silent films, on location and in real time. Donald Sosin and Joanna Seaton spoke with Will Call by Skype prior to their appearance at Images Cinema in Williamstown for “An Evening with Charlie Chaplin.”

About Donald Sosin and Joanna Seaton

(courtesy http://silent-film-music.com/)

“For twenty years Donald Sosin and Joanna Seaton have been among the only major performers in the US creating and performing music for classic silent films with vocals as well as instrumentals, and have won high praise from experts in the field, as well as enthusiastic supporters of all ages everywhere they appear. Their unique blend of keyboard, vocals, electronics and percussion delights a wide variety of audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.

Their film scores incorporate original songs with Joanna’s lyrics and Donald’s music, as well as select songs from the early 20th century appropriate to the film, and even, in some cases, giving voice to the muted singing of the actors onscreen.”

An Evening with Charlie Chaplin

Monday, December 16, 2019; 8:00 p.m.
Images Cinema
50 Spring Street
Williamstown, Mass.

From Images Cinema

“By 1916 — the same year the Walden Theater opened in Williamstown — Charlie Chaplin had become the most famous entertainer in the world, a mere two years after appearing in his first motion picture. Buoyed by his enormous success and popularity, he was offered the largest contract ever extended to a movie star — $670,000 for a single year’s work — to make 12 short comedies at Mutual Film Corporation. For Mutual, Chaplin produced what many film historians believe to be his best works, including the three featured in this program: The Immigrant, The Adventurer and The Count.”

MORE INFO

Music heard on this show

Orchestration for THE COUNT (1916) dir. Charles Chaplin. Music (2013) by Donald Sosin
For String quartet, piano, and bass

Orchestration for THE PAWNSHOP (1916) dir. Charles Chaplin. Music (2016) by Donald Sosin, orchestrated by Peter Breiner. Live at Cowell Theater, San Francisco, March 26, 2017. San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, Benjamin Simon, music director. 25 players with the composer at the piano.

Musical examples from THE DOCKS OF NEW YORK (1927, von Sternberg), J. Seaton, D. Sosin
Joanna Seaton and Donald Sosin were commissioned by the Criterion Collection to create a piano/vocal score for Josef von Sternberg’s silent drama, THE DOCKS OF NEW YORK (1927). These excerpts illustrate the use of the title song (lyrics and vocals by Joanna Seaton, music composed and performed by Donald Sosin) in several different contexts.

The Greylock Glass

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