The rumbling "Imperial March" from “Star Wars,” the teenage anthem in “Don’t You (Forget About Me)" in “The Breakfast Club” and, of course, the “Rocky III” theme song “Eye of the Tiger”—be it scored or soundtracked, movies would not be the same without the music cued at the right moment.
This weekend, downtown Chattanooga will be the hub of concerts, screenings, open rehearsals and panel discussions during the first annual Southeast Film Music Symposium.
—7-8 p.m.: Opening reception
—8-10 p.m.: "These Amazing Shadows" at the Majestic Theatre
—10 a.m.-1 p.m.: Discussions at the Read House
—1-2 p.m.: A history of music in the movies with Edmund Stone
—2-5:30 p.m.: The Matrix Live open rehearsal
—8-10:30 p.m.: The Matrix Live
—11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.: Hooray for Hollywood open rehearsal
—3-5:30 p.m.: Hooray for Hollywood
The three-day festival features world premiere performances of compositions by industry veterans Peter Golub and Chattanooga native George S. Clinton, as well as the classic Hooray for Hollywood concert.
The main event on Saturday night will be a live film concert that pairs the musical styles of Don Davis’ score for “The Matrix” as performed by the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra with the big-screen projection of the visually stunning film itself.
“For me, this is a culmination of a longstanding love affair with film music,” said Robert Bernhardt, music director emeritus for the CSO. “In the last 20 years of my career, I’ve conducted more and more film music to my delight. There’s a huge audience for music written for film, and I hope this [event] is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
From paper to plastic
The idea for the symposium emerged from conversations during Clinton’s frequent visits to the Scenic City.
The conductor, who has scored more than 90 titles, including the "Austin Powers" and "Santa Clause" movies, lives on the West Coast but has traveled back east several times to lead the CSO and lend a hand with the annual Hooray for Hollywood concert, which showcases music made famous by movies or famously composed for movies.
In brainstorming how to broaden the experience of film and music’s indelible connection, Clinton, Bernhardt and Executive Director Molly Sasse imagined a weekendlong festival in the model of European symposiums.
It was Clinton’s connections that drew Golub—the director of the Sundance Film Music Program—Davis, and Vice President of Film & Television Relations at BMI Records Doreen Ringer Ross into the fold. Each of the experts will contribute an authentic perspective on how music and film are intertwined, the importance of one art form to the other and how a composer’s scribblings make it to the silver screen.
“If people have ever wondered how film music is made—where it comes from, what the process is and how composers make their choices—this is a real opportunity to get a real, behind-the-scenes look at music for film,” Clinton said.
The festival’s schedule kicks off tonight with an opening reception at the Majestic Theatre and the screening of "These Amazing Shadows" at 8 p.m.
The documentary film, for which Golub served as the composer, will be introduced by directors Paul Mariano and Kurt Norton. It focuses on the National Film Registry, the Library of Congress’ program to preserve and commemorate the gems of American cinema.
Saturday begins at 10 a.m. with two presentations at the Sheraton Read House delivered by Golub and Clinton on the musical choices composers make and the inspiration they use when approaching a new project.
Ringer Ross will then moderate a discussion between Davis, Clinton and Golub and a Q&A on the creative process of pairing film and music.
Symposium attendees will be provided lunch while hearing from Edmund Stone, the host of syndicated public radio program "The Score," for his presentation on the history from the 1940s to present day of music in film.
Following lunch, the CSO will open up its rehearsal time to those keen on seeing the musicians in action as they prepare for the night’s concert.
The main event, The Matrix Live, starting at 8 p.m., promises to be as mind-bending as the film was when it was released in 1999. The orchestra will be set up on the Tivoli Theatre stage under the projection screen. The musicians will be dressed in black with stand lights to avoid drawing the audience’s eye away from the film.
“There is an immediate understanding of connection between music and film,” Bernhardt said. “It’s visceral when you’re in the room. You get a direct understanding and sense of admiration for the way in which a composer figures out a way to complement what is on screen while not interrupting the film.”
Sunday’s schedule includes another open rehearsal before the matinee Hooray for Hollywood concert. The actual performance starts at 3 p.m.
The three-act program features Bernhardt, Clinton and Golub conducting the classic works of Max Steiner and Dmitri Tiomkin, the musical soundtrack for the "International Man of Mystery" movies and the world premiere of music from “These Amazing Shadows.”
“For a composer, it’s a dream come true to have the music come to life again,” Clinton said.