Erland Cooper Scores Classic Silent Film The Wind for the Chorus of Opera North
A new score for the elemental 1928 silent film The Wind, written by Scottish composer and artist Erland Cooper for the women of the Chorus of Opera North, receives its world premiere at Sage Gateshead on 24 February 2022.
The latest commission in Opera North’s FILMusic series tours to RNCM Manchester on 25 February. It also closes at the Howard Assembly Room, Leeds on 26 February.
Born and raised on Orkney, composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Erland Cooper’s sensitivity to the relationship between landscape and psychology has been a constant over the course of a diverse and collaborative career. He’s covered everything from folk, prog and indie rock to field recordings. He’s now flourishing as a contemporary classical composer and solo artist.
For this commission, he employs the human voice. A live performance from the 18 women of the Chorus of Opera North, augmented by textural recordings. And there’s a live analogue processing by Erland himself. And it opens up a new imaginative space for a forgotten masterpiece.
The Wind is silent cinema at its most shockingly, primally potent. In her greatest role, a radiant Lillian Gish plays Letty. Letty’s a young woman cast out from her sheltered Virginia home into the dust bowl of the Texan prairie. Here an act of savagery, and the unrelenting northerly wind push her mind beyond its limits.
In the hands of visionary director Victor Sjöström, the sublime forces of nature tangle with Letty’s frayed psyche in a delirious vortex. Aero engines whip up terrifying sandstorms on the film’s blistering Mojave locations. And trick photography summon phantom horses straight out of a gothic nightmare.
Misunderstood and unloved in the years following its release, The Wind would go on to influence the likes of Ingmar Bergman. Now, in one of his most ambitious ventures to date, Erland Cooper breathes new life into the film’s empty plains.
“Like a requiem to a dying medium”
Erland Cooper said “The Wind is like a requiem to a dying medium or art form. I want to echo that in a simple live score created predominantly from the human voice that touches on its drama and poetry. Combining clouds of sound and textures in an almost tone poem score”
“The Mojave Desert could not be further away from the Orkney Islands where I grew up. But an archipelago is surrounded by frequent gale force winds that drive and turn a cycle of shelter and search for safe havens, from both external and internal elements”.
The Wind is the latest in Opera North’s series of soundtrack commissions, following pianist Matthew Bourne’s live score for another late, great silent film, King Vidor’s The Crowd, which premiered at the Howard Assembly Room this week, and travels to the Purcell Room at London’s Southbank Centre on Sunday 21 Nov 2021 for the EFG London Jazz Festival 2021.
Tickets for The Wind are priced at £18.00. Booking is available now for Sage Gateshead and the Howard Assembly Room, Leeds. For more details visit operanorth.co.uk