The music of Gabriel Thibaudeau, conducted by Dina Gilbert and played by 10 musicians of the Kamloops Symphony Orchestra in sync to a screening of the 1925 silent film, Phantom of the Opera, was sent out to ticket holders far and wide.
It was a brilliant accomplishment.
Following a brave season start in October, the KSO pulled out all the stops in its presentation of a Halloween horror. On stage at Sagebrush Theatre were guest soprano Magdalena How, Cvetozar Vutev and Elyse Jacobson (violins), Sam McNally ( French horn), Sally Arai (clarinet) Ashley Kroecher (viola and cello), Olivia Martin (bassoon), Martin Karatky and Michael Vaughan (bass), Julia Chien (percussion) and Naomi Cloutier (grand piano and electric organ).
The music was bright, often cheerful and often frightful. The match to the film’s action was dead-on. The timing challenge is well described in the composer interview on the KSO website, at kamloopssymphony.com.
Somewhere off stage were camera operators making sure we were fully aware that we were watching a live performance. This was so skillfully done that it might have been our own eyes picking out the instrument that has caught our attention.
At the same time, because it was multi-angle filming, we could see the whole ensemble, as well as those who were at that moment accentuating the action on the screen. We could glance down at the bottom left corner to follow the tempo with the conductor. The angle was a silent movie surrounded by anything-but-silent musicians. The genius behind this was Mastermind Studios.
• Guest soprano How was to have sung the immensely beautiful Heavenly Life that closes Maher’s Symphony #4 this past April 11. Unable to fulfill that engagement due to the pandemic, she returned to Kamloops at the end of October, delighting us as Christine Daaé, the rising star of Paris opera, singing beautifully until all falls apart with a blood-curdling scream.
• There are curious contrasts in body movements to follow throughout. The graceful hands and arms ballerinas of the Paris Opera house versus Lon Chaney’s sly curling fingers at the ends of outstretched arms — a hallmark of silent films.
• The good news is there are KSO events planned for November and Christmas. Despite how different times are, artists are adapting and giving us incomparable experiences. When the audience is live again, our eyes and ears will bend closer.
• Tickets for this online experience are $15 for an individual and $25 for a household pass, with screenings available through Nov. 29. Go online to kamloopssymphony.com for more information.