This year, in a partnership between the Music Composition program at Pepperdine and the Mary Pickford Foundation, three Pepperdine composition students and a select group of student chamber musicians experienced the unique opportunity to produce original music for the silent films of Mary Pickford.
On Saturday, Apr. 12, the Mary Pickford Foundation Music Project will culminate with a performance of three world premieres of the student composers' silent film scores at the outdoor Amphitheater on the Malibu campus. The event, titled "Up Against the Screen: New Music with Film," will begin at 7:30 p.m. and feature two other works performed by the Pickford Ensemble.
"Our goal in using the films of Mary Pickford, a pioneer of early cinema, is to instill in our students and to all who experience this project some sense of the passion, initiative, and artistic originality that helped her become a leader in twentieth century film and a legend today," reads the Mary Pickford Foundation Music Project website.
Under the direction of associate professor of music N. Lincoln Hanks, and with help from guest professional composer Jonathan Newman, the student composers developed effective music scores for three films: A Lodging for the Night (1912), scored by Matthew Aune, The School Teacher and the Waif (1912), scored by Andrew Gladbach, and So Near Yet So Far (1912), scored by Thomas B. Yee.
"Pepperdine students are exposed to opera and chamber music and this is just another great experience in a different kind of way, working with the medium of film, which teaches them a different set of skills that they've never had before," says Hanks. "The students are going to see that they can take their skills as a player and use them in unusual ways."
Newman, who conducted a five-day residency on the Malibu campus in November, worked with the student composers in the Pickford program and conducted a general master class.
"This is really the beginning of their training," Newman explains. "Composers have to have a lot of musical training under their belt before they start writing, so I like being able to, at this early stage, open them up to the world of options around them. Students at this age are incredibly receptive to being shown things that they've never even considered before. They have come up with some great stuff and I'm glad that I could help."