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  • Locations: Oberlin, United States
  • Program Terms: Winter Term
  • Restrictions: Oberlin applicants only
Oberlin College Deadlines (please confirm host program deadlines):
Oberlin College Deadlines (please confirm host program deadlines):
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Winter Term 2022 01/21/2022 ** Rolling Admission 01/25/2022 02/17/2022

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Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
WT Program Focus: Academic Focus, Artistic Work, Career Development/Internship, Community Engagement
Program Description:
Project Description:
Compiling and Performing Silent Film Scores from Historical Photoplay Music

In this workshop students will learn to compile silent film scores from historical “photoplay” sheet music—that is, short mood-setting musical modules written to be stitched together to make a complete movie score. Students will form small chamber ensembles, view and analyze a short silent film and, using appropriate musical cues, assemble a complete score that enhances the film. Students will additionally learn to rehearse and perform as an accompanying ensemble for a silent film in the manner of historical theater orchestras.

Students will work with Rodney Sauer (Oberlin, ‘85), director of the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, a five-member professional ensemble dedicated to the historical performance of music for silent film. Students will be introduced to the music through Mr. Sauer’s score library, and local special collections; student groups will be coached directly by Mr. Sauer at several points during the term in preparation for the final performance. Students will also have additional instruction (history, music editing) and hear from selected guest speakers.

In addition to preparing the final performance, each group will also create an accompanying essay for a program book that introduces the film, the music chosen, and their preparation process. Additionally, each group will edit one photoplay cue selected from the special collections of the Cleveland Public Library. We hope to highlight the works of Cleveland native JS Zamecnik, who studied with Dvorak and worked in Cleveland theater, later relocating to Hollywood where he wrote scores for major motion pictures, including the Academy award winner Wings (1927).

This project is Selective.  Keyboard performers are especially encouraged to apply!

Interested students with questions may email Prof. Emily Laurance (elauranc@oberlin.edu) to discuss participation. 

Number of students: 20

Dates: January 25th - February 17th, 2022

Project Sponsor:
Emily Laurance
elauranc@oberlin.edu