Replacing the Silence

By Rob Hayes

The Berklee Silent Film Orchestra (BSFO) premiered its new original score to Buster Keaton’s comic masterwork Our Hospitality (1923). On May 6, the BSFO performed the score live to picture in its home away from home, the Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline, MA. Then, on May 15, they gave it a Nantucket, MA, debut at the Nantucket Dreamland Theater. Proceeds from ticket sales for that event benefited the Nantucket Community Music Center.

Launched in 2010, the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra was the idea of then-Berklee Film Scoring Chair Dan Carlin. It continues today as the course “Scoring Silent Films,” taught by Professor Sheldon Mirowitz, who has scored such feature films as Outside Providence and Missing in America. Between four and six student composers write and conduct the music for an eight- to 10-piece student ensemble, live to picture. The BSFO has been recognized by the Boston Society of Film Critics for the excellence of its contributions to the Coolidge Corner Theatre’s “Sounds of Silents” series.

Our Hospitality is the sixth silent masterwork for which the BSFO has created a score to be performed live-to-picture. Previous projects include creating and performing new soundtracks for the silent films Sunrise, It, Battleship Potemkin, Piccadilly, and Faust. Mirowitz is now in discussions with industry leaders regarding the BSFO’s next major silent film composition and performance project.


Rob Hayes is Berklee’s assistant vice president for External Affairs