Northwest Sinfonietta strikes gold, playing live to Chaplin’s “The Gold Rush” in Tacoma’s historic Temple Theater
Saturday night was a first for a lot of Tacoma folks: the first time many had watched a silent movie with live orchestral accompaniment, and the first time the 21-year-old Northwest Sinfonietta had played in the Temple Theater. And although the ensemble had done Charlie Chaplin before, it wasn’t a 2-hour feature film. So the effect was even more impressive as the chamber orchestra struck gold, playing for Chaplin’s 1925 “The Gold Rush” with warmth, delicacy and the kind of precise visual synchronization that made you occasionally forget they were even there.
Of course, playing live music for a film in a historic theater built just one year after the film was made is delightfully appropriate, and watching the orchestra tune up in front of a big screen on that enormous stage flanked by art deco Egyptian pillars of aqua and gold is enough to send shivers down your spine. But the tricky part of accompanying film music as a group is keeping together and keeping up with the images – and the Sinfonietta, under phenomenally precise direction from Christophe Chagnard, did this brilliantly.
Interestingly, the evening began with a peek into just how difficult the task is. Chagnard pulled up scans from his 500-page score on the screen, pointing out the verbal cues (characters standing up, fighting, leaving) and his own extremely highlighted notes on cueing his orchestra. Read more »