ALBANY — The two-time Grammy Award-winning Albany Symphony is presenting the first-of-its-kind Film Music Festival, a celebration of the incredible music made for media, Thursday, Oct. 5, to Monday, Oct. 9, at venues throughout the Capital Region.
“This was an idea that we hatched a few years ago,” said Music Director David Alan Miller. “It occurred to me that there are very few festivals devoted to music for film. … In terms of really exploring the vast world of incredible music for film, but performing it as pure music, that’s something that only happens in a few places around the world.“
Starting the film music festival is acclaimed pianist Kevin Cole’s Hollywood Cabaret show on Thursday, Oct. 5, at 7:30 p.m. at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. Cole will play a wide assortment of music from classic films like “The Band Wagon,” “Top Hat,” “Swing Time,” “Shall We Dance,” “The Way We Were,” and “Royal Wedding.”
Cole will also be performing a live accompaniment to a short silent film, a 15-minute comedy short called “45 Minutes from Hollywood.” Made in 1926, it is an early appearance of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy before their famous partnership.
“I love accompanying silent films,” said Cole. “I thought it would be a fun addition for the audience. The addition of playing for a silent comedy as part of it is a treat for me, but it’s also a treat for the audience because you don’t get that experience very often these days.”
The concert’s environment will be uniquely intimate, with chairs set up on the stage around Cole, creating a cabaret setting.
“The whole idea is connection and communication in your music,” he said.
Seating is limited, so it is recommended to purchase tickets ahead of time. The audience will get the experience of being onstage and having the perspective of being a performer while still “enjoying the beautiful acoustics of that hall,” said Cole.
“It’ll give them a totally different perspective for the future when seeing performances there,” he said. “I want as many people as possible to experience this and just have a really great time celebrating movie musicals, silent movies, and the glory in their own backyard of the Troy Music Hall.”
On Saturday, Oct. 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the University at Albany Performing Arts Center, a free festival symposium, Scoring Work in Show Business, welcomes the public to meet industry experts and learn about their work. This special seminar is presented in collaboration with the NYS Writers Institute.
The Albany Symphony’s opening night, “Soundtrack New York: Musical Scenes from a Cinematic State,” takes place Oct. 7, at 7:30 p.m. at the Palace Theatre. Miller will conduct music from movies set in or created by composers from the Empire State, with a special guest appearance by Cole for movie music by George Gershwin.
“I was very interested in the idea that so many of the great film composers came from, worked in, or made films about New York,” said Miller. “The idea of really focusing on New York in film music was the idea.”
The night will feature selections from the works of Leonard Bernstein, Tamar-kali, The Howard Shore, Bernard Herrmann, Max Steiner, and Henry Mancini.
“This is music that has stood the test of time,” said musician Tommy Tallarico. “This is why a festival like this is so important, because it brings in a new generation of people to appreciate symphonic and orchestral music.”
“I think it really is an exciting aspect of it to hear the evolution. People will find that this music is unremittingly gorgeous,” said Miller. “Particularly Gershwin, Bernstein, and John Williams. Everything on all the programs is extremely beautiful, expressive music. Anyone who comes to any of the concerts will be really thrilled by how beautiful it is.”
While the night will feature classic songs from films such as “West Side Story,” “The Lord of the Rings” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” the programs will also introduce the audience to the artists’ other works in their diverse catalogs.
“It’s really like a whole world of film music from the early days to the present. Each program is designed to have familiar music on it and unfamiliar pieces as well,” said Miller. “There is enough familiar music that the few pieces that may not be familiar to a listener will charm them just because of the freshness of that.”
On Sunday, Oct. 8 at 7:30 p.m. at the Palace Theatre, video games will take center stage with a one-of-a-kind concert experience for gamers and non-gamers to enjoy. “Video Games Live” creator Tallarico and his band will join the Albany Symphony with Emmanuel Fratianni conducting for a night of music from Final Fantasy, Halo, The Last of Us, Undertale, Okami Warcraft, Castlevania, Shadow of the Colossus, and more.
“The whole idea and concept for me was that I wanted to prove to the world how culturally significant and artistic video games and their music have become and usher in a whole new generation of young people to appreciate the arts and symphony,” said Tallarico. “When you go into that festival environment, it’s a celebration.”
The concert, which uses lighting and displays to portray video game visuals, is intended to blend the energy and excitement of a rock concert with video games, as well as the power and emotion of a symphony and choir.
“The show is not just for video gamers,” he said. “I created it for families. The industry is beautiful and exciting. It’s a show for everyone. The name says it all: Watch your favorite video games and their music come to life on stage with the most amazing, talented musicians in the area.”
The community is invited to join the Symphony on Monday, Oct. 9 at 3 p.m. at the MVP Arena for a free Movie Music Play-in Concert. The Albany Symphony and the Empire State Youth Orchestra will be performing together popular movie and video music, including selections from “Star Wars,” “Moana,” “Howl’s Moving Castle,” and more.
Attendees are encouraged to bring their instrument and join in with the Symphony and Youth Orchestra during a selected portion of John Williams’ iconic Imperial March theme from “Star Wars.”
“It’s going to be a great family event,” said Miller. “All of the events are going to be just spectacular, and each one is going to be unique, different, and occupy a different space from the others,” said Miller. “If you want to come to all of them, that’s just an amazing combination of much of the greatest film music of the 20th and 21st centuries.”
For more information, visit AlbanySymphony.com.
This story appeared on page 1 of the October 4, 2023 print edition of the Spot