Native American composer scores ‘Last of the Mohicans’ for film festival opening
Native American composer scores ‘Last of the Mohicans’ for film festival openingApril 04, 2007Christine Fawcett-Shapiroinfo@syrfilm.com
Native American composer Brent Michael Davids will join members of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra and the Society For New Music to perform his orchestrated full score for the 1920 silent film “The Last of the Mohicans” Wednesday, April 18, at 7 p.m. at the Syracuse Area Landmark Theatre to open the Fourth Annual Syracuse International Film Festival (SIFF).
Davids’ original score will be performed live during the screening of the 73-minute classic silent film, which stars Wallace Beery. During the concert, Davids will perform with a large number of Native American percussion instruments and a handmade flute fashioned from quartz crystal, which he created. The Society of New Music core ensemble, with members of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, will comprise the chamber orchestra.
This world premiere event will be recorded for a DVD, which will be packaged and marketed by the Syracuse International Film Festival. It is scheduled to be screened nationally on PBS.
“This event creates a major intersection that epitomizes the fundamental mission of the Syracuse International Film Festival,” says SIFF Artistic Director Owen Shapiro. “We began this festival in order to bring an international spotlight on our city and to use the cinema as common ground for dialogue among peoples of all nationalities, religions and races. The Native American community is central to the history and life of our area, and this event is a creative way to recognize this history through the works of contemporary artists. Bringing together the talents of Brent Michael Davids and the musicians from the Syracuse Symphony and from the Society For New Music speaks to the kind of collaborations the film festival has nurtured from its inception.”
Davids is an award-winning and internationally acclaimed composer and musician. He was raised in Wisconsin, where the only remaining Mohican citizens of his tribe now reside. His ancestors lived in Stockbridge, N.Y., near the Oneida Indian Nation, after they were forced to leave Stockbridge, Mass.
Davids will spend two weeks this month giving workshops and media interviews, rehearsing, performing and recording. The workshops will take place in the four Syracuse City School District high schools and at the Onondaga Nation and the Oneida Nation. He will provide a role model for young Native Americans to show ways they might connect their traditional way of life and creativity with the contemporary world. In the Syracuse high school workshops, Davids will work musically with students to help break stereotypes of what Native American music sounds like and is capable of expressing. Blocks of complimentary tickets for the April 18 premiere at the Landmark Theatre will be provided for the high school students participating in the workshops and for students at the Onondaga Nation and Oneida Nation.
The Syracuse International Film Festival, now in its fourth year, is a competitive film event of more than 120 independent films and videos from 32 countries. Filmmakers from around the world come to Syracuse to participate in seminars and special events such as this world premiere. It is a production of Point of Contact, a nonprofit organization that fosters opportunities for creative scholarship, critical thinking and original art to enhance and enrich the cultural life of the community. With support from Syracuse University, Le Moyne College and many businesses, foundations and individuals, the SIFF has become Point of Contact’s largest production.
The Society For New Music in Syracuse is the oldest, and only year-round, new music organization in New York state outside of Manhattan. Founded in 1971, the society acts as a catalyst for the continued growth of the Central New York musical community, bringing new music to as broad an audience as possible through performances, broadcasts and cable TV.
The Syracuse Symphony Orchestra is an ensemble of national acclaim. The Symphony boasts 79 musicians and a conducting staff of international caliber and performs 193 full-orchestra and chamber ensemble concerts throughout Central and Northern New York, reaching more than 225,000 audience members during its 39-week season.
Central New York is the perfect place for this premiere since this is where James Fenimore Cooper grew up, where the Iroquois Confederacy was formed, and where two of those nations continue to be active — one in more traditional, ecological areas and one taking a more modern path. Organizers believe this project will have a positive impact locally, building community among diverse populations in the region by bringing people together to dialogue through the collaborative mediums of music and cinema. It will also give Native Americans an opportunity to present an often-misunderstood historic time in a new way and share that with the general public.
For more information on the April 18 event and the film festival, see http://www.syrfilmfest.com.