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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria art gallery provides Open Space in an online way

View Chantal Gibson’s recent show on the web, hear Indigenous stories on Instagram starting Sunday

Victoria brewery throws support behind still-operating restaurants

Vancouver Island Brewing initiates #TakeOutTuesday to keep local eateries in the public eye

LIVE MUSIC: Artist in Residence reaching into the community

Kathryn Calder to perform livestream show on YouTube channel this Friday, April 3

Victoria vocalist Maria Manna reaches out to hard-hit Italy with special online song

Jazz singer to perform ‘Hymn to Freedom’ with Italian lyrics on Facebook at 2 p.m. Monday

Royal BC Museum joins home education trend for outreach programs

Free webinar options available for RBCM@Home and kids’ programs, starting March 31

Hip tradition sing-along planned again for Canadians April 2

The Tragically Hip’s Paul Langlois is encouraging all to join him virtually in a’Porch Session.’

Vancouver Island musicians in quarantine thank neighbours with backyard performance

Nanaimo Chamber Orchestra director Karl Rainer and his sons play for those in self-isolation

Order of Canada Vancouver Island musician pens ‘The Ballad of Bonnie Henry’

Qualicum Beach lawyer and saxophonist Phil Dwyer notes health officer has become a ‘folk hero’

Campbell River journalist launches Isolationpalooza II

Featuring all local musicians, a volunteer virtual concert, of sorts

6.5-magnitude earthquake in Idaho shakes B.C. Interior

An earthquake was reportedly felt just before 5 p.m. throughout the Okanagan

Netflix reducing video quality in Canada to lower Internet bandwidth use

Bell Media is also planning traffic measures affecting the Crave streaming service

Will the show go on? B.C. music festivals consider options for 2020

Summer events running out of time to stay on schedule, in wake of COVID-19 uncertainties

Most Read