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The Boston Globe


Local films, festivals, and faces

‘Faust’ for gamers and film fans

The Coolidge Corner Theatre’s popular Sounds of Silents series honors the tradition of musical accompaniment to silent classics but it also brings silent films to new audiences. That couldn’t be clearer than with its latest collaboration with Berklee College of Music’s film scoring department. Monday at 7 p.m., F.W. Murnau’s silent epic, “Faust” (1926), screens with an original score composed and performed live by the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra (BSFO) with vocal accompaniment from the 24-voice Berklee-based Video Game Music Choir (think “Glee” for the Final Fantasy set). The choir’s ethereal blend of voices is mostly chanting and vocal harmonizing as they perform the scores composed for video games. In the case of “Faust,” they will lend their voices to the wordless score penned by the BSFO. Created in 2009 by Berklee senior Julia Seeholzer and made up of Berklee students, the choir now performs regularly in the Boston area. A Video Game Orchestra has existed on campus since Berklee grad Shota Nakama launched it in 2008. It’s no accident that so much video game music thrives at Berklee; it’s one of the few music schools in the country that offers courses in the exploding field of composing music for video games.

Over the past five years, the Coolidge has commissioned the orchestra, under the direction of film scoring professor Sheldon Mirowitz and with the participation of the film scoring department, to compose and perform new musical scores for five silent films: “Sunrise,” “It,” “Battleship Potemkin,” “Piccadilly,” and, last in the lineup, “Faust.” A big-budget German production, “Faust” won Murnau his contract with Hollywood’s Fox Studios, for which he made his best-known silents. The film is based on the classic German legend and modeled mainly on Goethe’s interpretation of the story; it stars Gösta Ekman as Faust and the legendary Emil Jannings as Mephisto.

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