Exploring the special relationship between film and music

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The movie Jaws is a modern classic – but would it have had quite the same effect without the simple score, the der-der/der-der/der-der-der-der-der that announced the arrival of the Great White terror?

The folk at Opera North think not. The Howard Assembly Room (HAR), the venue in Leeds Grand Theatre run by Opera North, tonight sees the launch of a new mini-festival which explores the relationship between the moving image and music.

FILMusic will give audiences a chance to see some great films, chosen for their music, and a host of events that demonstrate how and why the link between the sound and the image is so inextricable.

Dominic Grey, projects director for Opera North, is in charge of programming the HAR, one of Leeds’s most beguiling and adaptable performance spaces.

The venue was brought back to life after a fluctuating history which saw it used for all manner of purposes – including an adult cinema and a bingo hall – as part of a huge refurbishment of Leeds Grand.

The room is used for the orchestra of Opera North to rehearse, but it also hosts an eclectic performance programme.

Grey says: “We’re hoping the FILMusic season will become a regular fixture. The Howard Assembly Room is perfect for this kind of event.”

Opening with a screening of the classic Western, the 1952 movie High Noon, the film was chosen because it unsually was built around its famous theme song Do Not Forsake me Oh My Darlin’, which threads its way through the whole movie.

Grey says: “We had a huge list of films that three of us who programmed the season were considering, but quite quickly we came to the decision that this was the right film to open the season with. Since the very early examples, the Western was a genre which relied enormously on its music to help tell the story and this, as a classic of the genre, was the perfect one to launch FILMusic.”

The season continues next Thursday with a rare screening of the Carl Dreyer movie Vampyr with a performance by German pianist Hauschka. On Friday Brian Eno’s seminal 1983 album Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundscapes will be played live to accompany images taken of NASA footage of space missions.

The concept of the season comes together perfectly in a screening the following Friday, February 27, of Fellini’s movie The Orchestra Rehearsal, which follows a rehearsal room with a score written by Nino Rota.

“The fact that Fellini actually made a movie about an orchestra rehearsal, demonstrates exactly why we are having a whole strand of work featuring this very powerful relationship between film and music,” says Grey. “We’re also running an introduction to the movie with a talk by Opera North’s music director Richard Farnes. The fact that we’re an opera company means we are able to do something like that, something which makes the event entirely unique.”

Nino Rota is celebrated again a week later with accordionist Richard Galliano and saxophonist John Surman playing music from some of Rota’s scores.

“We’re finding more and more that there is a bold and interested audience for this kind of work. We have the perfect space, so it makes sense to program it.”

Tickets and more information on 0844 848 2727.