Berklee Today

Silence Is Golden for Peter Vantine '90

Peter Vantine conducts his modern-day score to the classic silent film Camille after winning the Second Annual Young Film Composers Competition


Berklee alumni made an impressive showing at the recent Second Annual Young Film Composers Competition sponsored by Guitar Center, Turner Classic Movies, and Film Music magazine. Over 260 composers entered the competition and four graduates of Berklee's Film Scoring program were among the competition's 10 finalists.

The winner, Peter Vantine '90, received a $5,000 cash award and the opportunity to compose and record his musical score for a classic silent film with a chamber orchestra. The first runner-up was Matt Koskenmaki '98. Luis Gonzalez '98 and Brian Satterwhite '97 were among the 10 finalists.

Vantine composed and orchestrated more than 65 minutes of music for the newly restored 1921 silent film Camille, starring Rudolph Valentino as Armand and Alla Nazimova as Armand's tragic love interest.

While following the emotion of the story line, Vantine said he explored contemporary harmonies and rhythm to create his impressionistic score: "I watched the film many times and developed various themes for the different characters and moods. Then I wrote the music as the film dictated. It was exciting to work with such a legendary piece of film and to be free to express the story through music."

After composing his score, Vantine was flown to Los Angeles to conduct a top-notch chamber orchestra and synchronize his score to the film. The film, with Vantine's score, made its network premiere on February 14 during the Turner Classic Movies "Valentine's Day Tribute to Valentino." The show's host Robert Osborne, discussed the contest and Vantine's experience scoring the film as he introduced the new version.

Commenting on the dominance of Berklee alumni in the contest, Don Wilkins, chair of Berklee's Film Scoring Department, said, "Anyone who reaches the finals and takes on a project like this has to be in it for the long haul. Scoring over an hour of dramatic music is not for the faint of heart. It is a unique opportunity to produce a large amount of thematic material with the same considerations of time and budget found in today's competitive industry.

"I was thoroughly taken with Peter's score for Camille," Wilkins continued. "It effectively addressed all the elements of this complex relationship that evolves so tragically in the film. Since the premise of this competition is the rescoring of a classic silent film, the music is the whole soundtrack. You never hear a score featured this prominently in most films. I know that Peter gained much from this experience. He certainly put his heart into it and produced a memorable score for this classic silent film."