The Tabu Project: A Silent Film Masterpiece with Live Music

The Tabu Project is a one-day residency that includes an afternoon public master class and an evening film screening of Tabu, the last film made by German émigré director F. W. Murnau and documentarian Robert Flaherty, with live music featuring silent film musical artists Donald Sosin and Joanna Seaton on Wednesday, October 3, 2007, in the Williamson Theatre. This project is presented by the Center for the Arts (CFA) as part of its 2007-2008 season, Island Culture: Near and Far, with the Department of Media Culture and the Office of Student Life at the College of Staten Island (CSI).

“It is exciting to have two such world-renowned silent film musicians in their debut performance of original music for one the great late silent films at the CFA,” explains Dr. Matthew Solomon, silent film scholar and CSI Media Culture faculty member. “With live musical accompaniment, silent films made more than 75 years ago become totally vibrant, ever-changing works of art. Seeing a silent film while listening to a superb accompanist like Donald Sosin performing live is a unique experience — it is entirely different from seeing the same film with a pre-recorded soundtrack.”

The residency begins midday with a free, public master class, “Creating Music for the Silent Film,” with Donald Sosin, Joanna Seaton, and Dr. Matthew Solomon, noon-2:15pm, in the Williamson Theatre. It continues at 7:30pm, in the Williamson Theatre, with The Tabu Project, an evening of silent film with live music. Hosted by Professor Solomon, the program opens with a concert of early 1900s “going to pictures” music by Sosin, (keyboards) and Joanna Seaton (voice). It is followed by the screening of Tabu, accompanied by Donald Sosin who debuts his new score created for the CFA screening of this film. This performance marks Sosin’s first performance of music for Tabu.

Admission is $20 for the evening film screening and concert. Tickets for the screening can be made in person, by email, by phone, or by mail through the CFA Box Office, 2800 Victory Boulevard, 1P-113, Staten Island. Hours: Monday”“Friday, 9:00am to 4:00pm; Saturday, noon to 3:00pm. 718-982-ARTS (2787), www.cfashows.com. The master class is offered free to the general public on a first-come, first-served basis. The CFA is easily reached by car from I-278. Use campus parking lots 1 and 2. By MTA, take the S62, 61, 93, 53, and the Staten Island Ferry.

Tabu tells the story of two lovers in the South Seas who must escape their village when the girl is chosen as the holy maid to the gods. Tabu was the last film that celebrated German á©migrá© director F. W. Murnau (Nosferatu, The Last Laugh, Sunrise) made before he died. The film was shot on location in the South Seas in collaboration with the equally celebrated documentary film pioneer Robert Flaherty (Nanook of the North). The title of the film comes from the concept of tapu, a form of sacredness in many Polynesian cultures. It has been deemed “culturally significant” by the U.S. Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. It was released by Paramount in 1931 at the Central Park Theatre, New York, and re-released by Milestone Film & Video in 1991 through contractual arrangement with Murnau’s heirs.

Donald Sosin and Joanna Seaton are considered among the finest musicians creating music for silent films today. They have performed at major film festivals and performing arts centers all over the U.S., and have been teaching workshops in musical creativity for over 20 years. Dr. Matthew Solomon is an assistant professor in the Department of Media Culture at the College of Staten Island. Solomon is completing a book, Disappearing Tricks: Silent Cinema, Houdini, and the New Magic of the Twentieth Century, under contract with the University of Illinois Press.

The CSI Center for the Arts 2007-2008 season is supported, in part, with funds from the Richmond County Savings Foundation; a gift by the Carnegie Corporation (made possible by an anonymous donor); the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; the Office of the Borough President, Hon. James P. Molinaro; Dr. Michael Shugrue; the National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts; Time Warner Cable; the Staten Island Rotary Foundation; the College of Staten Island; and by our many business and individual patrons.

Island Culture: Near and Far, CSI Center for the Arts 2007-2008 Season
continues with:

Saturday, October 6, 8:00pm A Beautiful Memory:
A Mother and Her
Sons against the Mafia

Saturday, October 13, 8:00pm Pete Michaels’ New
Vaudeville

Monday, October 14, 7:30pm New York Philharmonic
Brass Ensemble

Sunday, October 21, noon-6:30pm Best of the New York
International Children’s
Film Festival

Saturday, October 27, 8:00pm Three Sisters from Queens

Sunday, October 28, 3:00pm Cenicienta/Cinderella

Saturday, November 17, 8:00pm I-Land

Saturday, December 1, 8:00pm I take your hand in mine

Saturday, December 8, 8:00pm Ru Sanda Rae (Beauty,
Moon, Night)

Sunday, February 3, noon-6:30pm Best of the New York
International Children’s
Film Festival

Saturday, February 9, 8:00pm Staten Island: Alive in
Wonderland

Saturday, February 23, 8:00pm Two Accordions with
Attitude

Saturday, March 1, 8:00pm Eileen Ivers & Immigrant
Soul

Sunday, March 9, 3:00pm Drum Folk

Saturday, March 15, 8:00pm An Evening of Duets

Friday, March 29, 8:00pm AXIS Dance Company

Sunday, April 6, 3:00pm This American Life

Saturday, April 12, 8:00pm Vernon Reid

Saturday, April 19, 8:00pm Colin Hay

Saturday, May 3, 3:00pm Emilio and the Enchanted
Cow

Saturday, May 17, 3:00pm The Musical Adventures of
Flat Stanley

CSI Center for the Arts: 718-982-ARTS or www.cfashows.com

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