Gannon University’s Erie Chamber Orchestra Presents Psycho

Posted: October 30, 2015

Mixed in with the applause at the Erie Chamber Orchestra's performance on Saturday, October 31, expect to hear some screams of terror. They won't come from the audience (well, maybe a few will), nor will they be a commentary on the performance.

This screaming will be done by Janet Leigh on the screen behind the orchestra, which will supply live music for Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 thriller "Psycho" the orchestra's first concert at the Warner Theatre, on Halloween evening at 8 p.m. Like all Erie Chamber Orchestra events, the concert is free. The audience is encouraged to come in their favorite Halloween costume, and join the ECO for a masquerade ball following the performance.

The notion of live orchestras accompanying classic films is increasingly popular among classical music organizations looking to attract younger listeners to concerts, and Matthew Kraemer, the music director of the ECO acknowledges as much.

"By performing on a Saturday night, this may be the most visible the orchestra has ever been," Kraemer said. He added, "In terms of budget, this is one of the most expensive concerts we've done."

Part of that expense is the rental of the Warner, but a significant amount of the investment is used for the technical demands of synchronizing a live orchestra with the film.

In addition to securing a print of the film with Bernard Herrmann's iconic soundtrack removed, the orchestra will also have a technician operating a video monitor and clock that Kraemer will use to time the music to the on-screen action.

It's not an easy thing to do, but Kraemer has a lot of experience, including last year's ECO concert that provided live accompaniment to Charlie Chaplain's "City Lights."

That was a silent film with continuous music. Herrmann's cues are shorter and more scattered, but Kraemer says, "The music, especially the slashing string figures in the shower scene, hasn't lost its power to shock. This is a groundbreaking score, 55 years old now, which set a precedent for how composers were to write scores for thrillers or horror films to this day."

Kraemer hopes the audience will come in costume and stay for the post-concert masquerade ball.