Tag Archives: Kings Place

Ensemble Amorpha silent film shows, December 2011

Ensemble Amorpha
Ensemble Amorpha

Ensemble Amorpha are a contemporary chamber music group that puts the emphasis on contemporary. Primarily, they play music by living composers, and in some of their upcoming shows they are championing the art of modern silent film-making as well.

Shorts Amorpha at the BFI Southbank is a programme of contemporary silent films, which will be shown not in a gallery, but on the big screen at NFT1. Ensemble Amorpha will play music by Dominic Murcott, Luke Styles, Christopher Mayo, Marc Yeats, Damon Lee, Alwyn Thomas Westbrooke, Philippe Kocher, Naomi Pinnock, Phil Vennables and Yoav Pasovsky to accompany films by Pavla Sceranková, Jan Pfeiffer, Sebastian Schmidt, Daniel Bisig, Gabriela Lang, Damon Lee, Nicolas Wiese and Zoe Payne. The music will be played on strings, woodwind, percussion and electronically too. This promises to be a fascinating and experimental evening – plenty here to inspire musicians and film-makers alike.

Shorts Amorpha screens at BFI Southbank on 1 December at 8.45pm. Tickets are available here, on the BFI website.

Later in the month, at Kings Place, the ensemble are putting on programme called Modern Silence. This will include scores for modern silent films by Alwyn Westbrooke and Damon Lee, as well as Luke Styles’s beautiful music for Rene Clair’s Entr’acte (1924). It’s great to see Kings Place continuing to support silent film, both here and with its Not So Silent Movies shows.

Modern Silence will be performed in Hall Two of Kings Place on 12 December at 8pm. Tickets start at £9.50 and are available here on the Kings Place website.

To find out more about Ensemble Amorpha and to listen to samples of their performances, visit their website.

Not So Silent Movies at Kings Place

Harold Lloyd in Safety Last (1923)
Harold Lloyd in Safety Last (1923)

This is a silent film screening, a concert, an experiment and lunch, all rolled into one. Not So Silent Movies will happen on the first Sunday of every month at the Kings Place arts centre in Kings Cross. It’s the brainchild of composer and cellist Philip Sheppard and puts a range of leading musicians to the ultimate test of their improvisational skills – accompanying silent films. The films will be a complete surprise to the musicians, who will have had no opportunity to watch the movies in advance, or heaven forfend, rehearse. This is what Sheppard says about the project:

‘I love throwing caution to the wind and creating a spontaneous composition, and I have absolute confidence that these musicians can pull it off. There’ll be as much slap-stick on stage as on screen; we get such a buzz from taking the risk with no safety net – it’s the adrenalin that makes it work, and when it’s over you can’t repeat it – it’s a one off!’

The choice of films will be a surprise for the audience too, of course. But a little bird tells me we can expect plenty of Buster Keaton (from the shorts to the features), some Harold Lloyd, maybe even some Chaplins in the future. Sheppard is huge fan of silent comedy and keen to show a broad range of films. He has something very special planned for Christmas, too, hopefully involving a special guest. But he’s keen to hear suggestions from Silent London readers. So if you want to nominate some silent comedies that you would like to see with a spontaneous score, comment below.

The roster of musicians involved is very impressive, and changes from month to month. Here are the line-ups for the first three Sundays.

Sunday 2 October:
Special guests
Guy Pratt bass (Pink Floyd & Roxy Music)
Geoff Dugmore drums

House band
Philip Sheppard cello
Elspeth Hanson violin (Bond)
Pip Eastop horn (London Sinfonietta)
Mark Neary pedal steel guitar

Sunday 6 November:
Special guest
Dame Evelyn Glennie OBE percussion

Sunday 4 December:
Roger Eno piano
Robin Millar CBE
 guitarist/star producer
Steve Mackey bass player, Pulp

Not So Silent Movies takes place on the first Sunday of every month in Hall Two of Kings Place. Tickets cost £9.50-£12.50, or £29.50 with Sunday lunch and a bloody mary at the Rotunda restaurant included. Find out more here.

Which silent comedies would you like to see shown at Not So Silent Movies? Please leave your comments below.