The Catholic University of America

"Silent Explosions, Invisible Leaps: Music, Dance, and Film Create a Ruckus"

An Online Review for "Silent Explosions":

READ REVIEW! Local poet and arts writer Karren LaLonde Alenier attended "Silent Explosions" and wrote an online review of the event for her journal "The Dressing." 

PHOTO GALLERY. Rehearsal photos of "Silent Explosions," taken by CUA university photographer Ed Pfueller!

Follow-up (post-performance)

An excellent audience attended the March 11 performance event in Ward Recital Hall, and the reaction was overwhelmingly positive. Audience members related very interesting perspectives on this innovative event: for example, some had said that they had initially expected to compare the films to the subsequent dances, but that in fact, they had seen and enjoyed each as independent experiences.

Others discovered the films of Georges Melies, which was in itself a very happy discovery.

Event Description

A multimedia performance presented by the composition division of the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, in collaboration with the CUA Department of Dance, Joy of Motion, and Dissonance Dance Theatre. Wednesday, March 11, 7:30 PM, Ward Recital Hall, CUA. Free.

The President's Festival theme this year is, "If It's Not One Thing, It's Another," exploring music's interaction with other arts. "Silent Explosions" takes a distinctive view by creating a "chain of inspiration" linking music, film, and dance.

What "Silent Explosions" is about

Seven CUA composers - students and faculty - have created new scores to seven silent films by French pioneer Georges Melies. Melies' films are wonderful, whimsical, and magical creations from the turn of the 20th century: explosions are a common features, as are astonishing feats of trick photography! (His films are also brief: the longest film on this performance lasts 4 minutes.) Three of these new scores are also final projects from a five-week course, "Scoring for Silent Film," offered at CUA this semester.

Another favorite Melies film subject is dance, from ballet to can-can. To reflect this interest, each of the chosen films features dance, and each composer's score will be choreographed by a DC-based choreographer and danced by CUA students and professionals.

The choreographers have not seen the films to which their scores are set, ensuring that their choreography will be a response to the music alone.

Each composer's score will be performed live by the DC-based Snark Ensemble (CUA faculty member Andrew Simpson, keyboards; CUA Head Music Librarian Maurice Saylor, woodwinds; CUA doctoral student Phil Carluzzo, percussion; and guest artist Ben Redwine, clarinets).

New Scores Played Live, New Scores Played Twice: Dance, Then Film

Each score will be played twice: first, with its choreography, then with its film. The performance will present dance inspired by music inspired by film.

Audiences will be able to consider the music in two contexts, and see how "If It's Not One Thing, It's Another!"

The Composers

The seven composers (and their films) are:

Phil Carluzzo, CUA DMA composition student ("The Pillar of Fire")
John Diomede, CUA MM Composition, Stage Music Emphasis student ("The Brahmin and the Butterfly")
Roc Lee, CUA MM Composition, Stage Music Emphasis student ("The Human Fly")
John Maggi, CUA MM Composition, Stage Music Emphasis student ("The Ballet Master's Dream")
Maurice Saylor, CUA Head Music Librarian ("The Black Imp")
Steven Strunk, CUA ordinary professor of music ("The Magician's Cavern," score titled "Silly Music")
Andrew Simpson, CUA associate professor of music ("The Luny Musician"), project director

The Choreographers

Shannon Quinn, CUA dance faculty, company dancer, Next Reflex Dance Collective
Shawn Short, CUA dance faculty, Artistic Director/Founder, Dissonance Dance Theatre
Douglas Yeuell, Executive Director, Joy of Motion Dance Center

The Musicians

The Snark Ensemble
Andrew Simpson: composer, keyboards
Maurice Saylor: composer, woodwinds
Phil Carluzzo: composer, percussion, frets
Ben Redwine, guest artist: woodwinds