Patrick Boyle, leader of the UVic Jazz Ensemble, enjoys updating silent films with improvised scores, including the upcoming presentation of Battleship Potemkin, Nov. 17 at the Philip T. Young Recital Hall. Photo courtesy University of Victoria

TALKIE TIME: New sounds for silent movie classic

UVic’s Jazz Ensemble leader has a soft spot for livening up silent films

John Threlfall

Monday Magazine contributor

How do you improve on one of the greatest movies ever made? If you’re the UVic Jazz Ensemble, you “comprovise” a live score for the 1925 Russian silent film Battleship Potemkin.

For ensemble leader Patrick Boyle, updating silent films with improvised scores is nothing new: he’s been doing it for over a decade, jazzing up the likes of Charlie Chaplin shorts and Buster Keaton’s The General. And while the choice of film matters, it’s this idea of “comprovisation” that really grabs his attention.

“Of everything I do professionally, playing live music for silent film is my absolutely favourite thing,” he says. “Because part of it is composed and part improvised – comprovised – it’s different every time we perform it. It’s especially effective with sentimental moments, which you can make more humorous, and vice-versa.”

Best known for its iconic “Odessa steps” sequence – which has been echoed in The Godfather, The Untouchables, Brazil, Revenge of the Sith and Naked Gun (to name just a few) – Battleship Potemkin has long outlived director Sergei Eisenstein’s original propagandistic intentions to become an undeniable cinematic classic.

“Considering everything that’s going on in the world, I thought showing something with a Russian theme would be appropriate,” says Boyle, with a sly smile. “I wanted to see if we could make silent films great again.”

UVic Jazz Ensemble’s Live Music for Silent Film starts at 8 p.m. on Nov. 17 at UVic’s Phillip T. Young Recital Hall. Tickets range from $10-$20, available by calling 250-721-8480 or emailing ticket@uvic.ca.

You can find more information from UVic on the project by clicking here.

Just Posted

Jim Cuddy Band members turn trio for next Victoria show

Jan. 11 stop at the McPherson Playhouse part of the Countrywide Soul tour

Strumbellas grow their award-winning sound organically

Juno-winning band makes a rare West Coast appearance at the Royal Theatre for Jan. 9 concert

Victoria harpist releases ‘old school’ jazz album, makes singing debut

Musician ‘blown away’ by reactions to her seventh album Songs From the Harp

REVIEW: Be prepared to participate in the Belfry’s Every Brilliant Thing

Not your typical Christmas season show, but remarkable nonetheless, writes Sheila Martindale

Holiday concerts: soloists, choruses and orchestras do Christmas

Various concerts on tap for December, including multiple Messiahs

VIDEO: Led by ‘Marriage Story,’ Netflix dominates Golden Globe noms

Netflix flexed its muscles across all categories, just as it is girding for battle with a host of new streaming services

Talking about tubas! Annual concert attracts hundreds to Market Square

The 2019 edition of Tuba Christmas concert and fundraiser goes this Saturday in the square

Yellowpoint holiday spectacle returns this weekend

Musical variety show offers a wide range of genres, along with many of your seasonal favourites

Carolling in Cadboro Bay Village helps fund music at Mount Doug Secondary

Singing set for 5 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 1, in Cadboro Bay Village.

VIDEO: Celine Dion tops Billboard 200 for first time in over 17 years

‘Courage’ is Dion’s fifth album to reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200

Sooke Community Choir brings warmth to winter

This Shining Night concert features a variety of seasonal music

Most Read