AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Youth Orchestra will perform the score to the 1922 silent film “Nosferatu” during a screening of the film on Sunday.
The film was produced in the Weimar Republic (current-day Germany) in 1922, by Prana Studios, went to theaters with a printed musical score that would be performed live. The film’s production was an (unlicensed) film adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula”.
For silent films, an organist or band would play the film’s score live; nowadays, such a show is a rarity, and a once-in-a-lifetime experience for attendees and musicians.
The score that the Austin high school students will play is a new arrangement for strings, written by Dr. Bo Benson, an orchestra director at Midway High School in Waco. AYO’s conductor for the performance, Anna Macias of the Lake Travis High School Orchestra, says that she has seen the students grow during their practice with the score.
“This was challenging; It’s a 60 minute movie, and you have to be on your toes. When I first brought it out, I just noticed the kids were really tired by 30 minutes,” Macias said. “Because it’s constant playing. It’s like playing in a musical. It’s pretty intense, you’ve got to stay on top of things.”
She says that the students have taken to the work, and that it’s a great way for them to experience musical history.
“The score’s wonderful. I mean, you have all of the special effects that you can do with stringed instruments. Parents, whenever we finish playing, they come up to us and always say ‘You forget that the orchestra is there’. They’re just so involved, they hear all the special effects,” Macias said. “Kids are very adaptable to things like this. You just have to push them.”
Alexandria Burch, an AYO administrator, says that the performance is a rare fundraiser for the orchestra. Sunday’s ticket sales will help AYO with guest conductors, rehearsal space and more.
“It’s a diverse community that is coming from a lot of different districts. It’s a lot of talents in one orchestra from different backgrounds. So having all of these students together is a really special moment, and Sunday should reflect that,” Burch said.
The performance will begin at 3 p.m. Sunday at Austin High School’s McGee Performing Arts Center. Tickets can be purchased at the door, or online at AYO’s website.