Old Films Get New Music at Present Music’s Movie Night

Present Music’s “Sounds of Silents” gives classic movies a new musical twist.

Present Music is bringing a fresh take on movie night to Milwaukee with “Sounds of Silents,” a presentation of three silent German Expressionist films accompanied by original orchestral music. 

The movie night will begin with “The Somnambulist,” a short film based on the silent horror film “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” (1920). The film was created by local classical musician and Present Music co-artistic director Eric Segnitz, who also wrote the original score. 

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Next up is “Nosferatu” (1922), the highly influential tale of a predatory vampire. The film is a classic, but the music will be original, providing new life to an old story. The new score is a collaboration between Segnitz and Milwaukee composer John Tanner. 

Last on the docket is “No/Mi/Tropolis,” a fusion of the science fiction film “Metropolis” (1927) and the music of German vocalist Klaus Nomi. The night will also feature Dave Luhrssen, arts and entertainment editor of the Shepherd Express, to introduce and give context to the films.

All of the music for “sounds of silents” was recorded at a live performance by Present Music at the Milwaukee Art Museum in 2016. The event will be shown for free on Facebook Live this Wednesday, July 15 at 7:30 p.m.

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Jude is an editorial intern at Milwaukee Magazine. He is a rising sophomore at Northwestern University studying journalism, gender and sexuality studies and theatre.