When: 8pm on Friday 10 May 2013
Where: International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Engine House, Chorlton Mill, 3 Cambridge Street, Manchester M1 5BY
For our third visit to the Burgess Foundation, we’re delighted to be presenting musician and composer Steven Severin’s electronic score to Robert Weine’s classic silent film The Cabinet of Dr Caligari.
Following on from his 50-date Vampyr world tour throughout 2012, Steven Severin returns for a UK tour giving audiences a rare opportunity to hear his electronic score for The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, the fourth in Severin’s ongoing film accompaniment series, Music For Silents.
Live in person, acclaimed solo artist and founder member of the legendary Siouxsie and the Banshees, Severin presents a mesmerising synthesis of sound and image, heightening appreciation of the surreal and enigmatic nature of the original work. Caligari, Robert Weine’s unsettling tale of fear and obsession, finds its aural counterpart in Severin’s suitably textured score, a synthesised, highly atmospheric soundscape drawing the viewer rhythmically into the oneiric imagery on screen.
During their reign, Siouxsie & the Banshees established themselves as one of the foremost alternative artists and the only survivors of the London punk scene to evolve, innovate and succeed until their final demise in 2002. Severin has since committed himself almost exclusively to scoring for film and television.
Since 2008, Severin has been performing live electronic accompaniment to silent films, startling audiences across the globe who have now come to expect the unexpected from the man who has crossed paths with such diverse luminaries as John Cale, Alan Moore, Lydia Lunch, Marc Almond, Merc Cunningham, Robert Smith and the Tiger Lillies.
Often cited as one of the most influential films of the silent era, Werner Krauss plays the title character in The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, a sinister hypnotist who travels the carnival circuit displaying a somnambulist named Cesare (Conrad Veidt). In one tiny German town, a series of murders coincides with Caligari’s visit. When the best friend of hero Francis (Friedrich Feher) is killed, the deed appears to be the conclusion of a romantic rivalry over the hand of the lovely Jane (Lil Dagover). Francis suspects Caligari, but he is ignored by the police. Investigating on his own, Francis seemingly discovers that Caligari has been ordering the somnambulist to commit the murders, but the story eventually takes a more surprising direction.
Caligari remains to this day an important part of the history of German cinema – one of the very first horror films – and its expressionist style essential to the development of film noir. Severin’s score was first premiered in a series of performances at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2009.
Support comes in the form of Ears In Excellent Condition (formerly known as The Otto Show). The trio – consisting of Otto Smart (guitar, vocals & melodica), Chris Payne (soprano saxophone) and Sophia Lockwood (cello) – formed in 2008 primarily to play their own compositions, including a full-length live soundtrack for Alfred Hitchcock’s film The Lodger, commissioned by Chorlton Film Festival and subsequently toured to other venues including Cornerhouse. For this show, they will perform soundtracks for Cinderella (1922) and The Death-Feigning Chinaman (1928), two ten-minute silhouette animations by the German director Lotte Reiniger (1899-1981). Reineger’s fairy-tale films have a macabre, ‘gothic’ quality, much darker than the more widely known children’s versions of the tales, being more faithful to the decidedly ‘adult’ spirit of the original versions. The scores – specially arranged for trio – have a deliberately ‘folky’, other-worldly quality to them, echoing the atmosphere of the films.
This show takes place at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, a charity that encourages and supports public and scholarly interest in all aspects of the life and work of Anthony Burgess, the late novelist (best known for A Clockwork Orange), poet, playwright, composer, linguist, translator and critic. The foundation, situated just off Oxford Road, features a fully licensed cafe-bar and an engine room, which will host this concert.