On Tuesday, January 10, three days before voting for Oscar nominations comes to a close, the Million Dollar Theater in downtown Los Angeles will play home to a special live orchestra screening of Barry Jenkins’ lauded indie “Moonlight.” The Wordless Music Orchestra, the group behind this past weekend’s live orchestra screenings of “Tree of Life” at BAM, is also announcing today that they will premiere a live orchestra screening of Stanley Kubrick’s “Barry Lyndon” at the Kings Theatre in Brooklyn on April 8.
The “Moonlight” screening will involve a 30-piece orchestra that will be joined by the film’s composer Nicholas Britell, Tim Fain (original violin soloist from the soundtrack recording), soprano Mellissa Hughes (who sang the Mozart aria in the film) and conductor Ryan McAdams (who led the “Tree of Life” live orchestra). Filmmaker Jenkins and his “Moonlight” cast will be in attendance at the special event, which is being presented by distributor A24 and Afropunk.
While last minute details are still being ironed out, Wordless Music founder Ronen Givony has confirmed with IndieWire that there will also be a “Moonlight” live orchestra screening in New York City, likely Brooklyn, in February as well.
As with their previous live orchestra screenings, Wordless Music will receive a copy of the film from A24 which has the film’s score removed from the film’s soundtrack. As Givony explained to IndieWire, these events are only possible with the support and collaboration of the film’s director and composers, having previously worked closely with directors Benh Zeitlin, Paul Thomas Anderson and Terrence Malick, along with composers Jon Brion, Jonny Greenwood and Dan Romer.
To prepare for the “Moonlight” screening, Givony and his team have already started work with Britell on how to translate the Oscar contender’s unique “chopped-and-screwed” score to a live performance.
“I am incredibly excited to be performing the ‘Moonlight’ score live with the Wordless Music Orchestra,” Britell wrote IndieWire. “[The score] involves many complex soundscapes and audio textures which we will be re-creating live.”
He continued, “Early on in our collaboration, Barry and I discussed the idea of applying ‘Chopped & Screwed’ techniques to the score. In Chopped & Screwed music, tracks are slowed down and the result is an enriched and deepened sonic texture. Within our live scoring in January with Wordless Music, we will be using a variety of techniques (including real-time pitch shifting) to re-create in real-time what we made in the studio. I am thrilled to get the opportunity to perform this music live with the film!”
Asked about how Wordless Music chooses which films to give the live film score treatment, Givony said he believes he’s proposing “a twenty-first century canon.”
“I was fortunate to see ‘Moonlight’ at Telluride, and can safely count on one hand the number of moviegoing experiences I’ve had that were as instantly overwhelming — the same reaction I had minutes into ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild,’ ‘There Will Be Blood’ and ‘The Tree of Life,’ said Givony. “The second viewing made it that much more obvious I was watching a masterpiece. We are both privileged and humbled to be working with Nick, Tim, Barry and A24 on behalf of this extraordinary film.”
Certainly supplying an elevated showcase in the middle of Oscar season can only help the indie, which has seen its award season buzz continue to multiply since it made its festival bow earlier this autumn.
“Moonlight” is currently playing in theaters.