York Film Festival
Monday, April 15, 2002,
at 7:30 pm
Avignon/New York Film Festival
Opening Night Gala
PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
"Phantom of the Opera" silent film includes part of the
performance of an opera at the Paris Opera House. Although traditionally
a theatre organ has been used to accompany silent films, this contemporary
classical score is for classical organ and piano.
concert organist Mr. Thierry Eschaich will play a $50,000 Allen
Renaissance organ from Allen Organ Studios, Inc., of Mineola, and
concert pianist Jean-Fran?is Zygel will play the piano in this new
French classical accompaniment to the silent film of 1925.
Claire Arnold, vice president of Allen Organ Studios, said,
"This French score for classical organ and piano, which is
being presented on the gala opening night of a week-long festival
of contemporary films, takes a new step forward. Its featured position
as the first film in the festival and also as the only silent film
will hopefully enable this event to reach a new audience."
, president of Allen Organ Studios, Inc., and whose recording "The
Happy Organ of Bob Wyatt" was the last made on the NY Paramount
organ in its original setting, said, "This is an outgrowth
of the yeoman work done in recent decades by Lee Erwin and others
to acquaint the general public with the history, beauty, and versatility
of the theatre organ."
Institute Alliance Fran?ise
22 East 60th Street
New York, NY 10022
For more information:
telephone: 212-355-6100, ext. 234—fax: 212-355-8796
hope the organ for the opening of the Avignon/New York Film
Festival last Monday night got moved home safely. Unless
people in the audience read the small print of the program
notes I wondered how many knew what they had just heard. I
was amazed that this instrument was positioned on stage with
the speakers simply lined-up under the screen; the sound in
the theatre was that of a permanently installed instrument.
don't think there is anyplace where an organist is more spoiled
than in France. Since these famous instruments are all
national landmarks the government funds the upkeep of the
pipe organs everywhere; therefore, the public use of any non-pipe
instrument in public spaces is very rare.
You know my love of the Cavaille'-Coll organs of France; especially
for the full body of the reeds and their ability to be played
both in an ensemble and as solo stops. It was a real
theatrical treat to be present for the showing of the classic
film Phantom to the Opera with all of these tonal resources
available to accompany the film. As an organist I really
appreciated the improvisations of the organist Thierry Escaich,
who seemed right at home having the tonal resources available
to orchestrate the film.
and I were probably the only ones in the audience who were
aware of the technology of the organ and its digitally sampled
Cavaille'-Coll reeds, but I saw in the response of the audience
the same kind of excitement I have experienced at concerts
in France. There were so many great moments, but I especially
loved the improvised toccata that Thierry Escaich built to
an all French-reed crescendo as the leading character of the
film, Christine, approaches the phantom from behind and unmasks
him. The sound gave a perfect voice to the emotions
that are felt in that classic scene!
again for the invitation to what was a memorable experience
of viewing this great classic, and congratulations on the
creative use of this Allen concert instrument. From
the standing ovation of the audience it was a real success
for the film festival and for great organ music to be experienced
by the general public."
Rev. Daniel P. Sheridan, organist
"I thoroughly enjoyed the evening, even though I
could not take the time to attend the after show activities.
The long drive back and having to be at work at 7:15 a.m. make
late night events in the City a little difficult during the
week. The two artists did a great
job of incorporating both piano and organ into the score, and
although it was a classical organ, Thierry managed to get some
very theatrical registrations on the swell."
Stehle, NY Theatre Organ Society
"Not only was
it colorful and appropriate at all times, but it was also beautiful,
contemporary, mostly classical, and fresh. Some of the romantic
music played was absolutely gorgeous. The result was that the
movie was greatly enhanced by the music. And yes, it was
theatrical too. As a classical organist, I found the improvisations
—Claire Arnold, Allen
Organ Studios, Inc.
IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Beck
Lee (718) 403-0939
AVIGNON/NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL OPENS MONDAY APRIL 15
"CINEPANORAMA" AMONG MAJOR OUT-OF-COMPETITION HIGHLIGHTS
(April 15, 2002) The 8th Avignon/New York
Film Festival gets underway on Monday, April 15 with an Opening
Night ceremony which will be typically eclectic and cross-cultural.
The 1925 silent classic "Phantom of the Opera,"
directed by Rupert Julien for Universal Pictures, unspools
with a new score performed live by its French creators, Jean-Francois
Zygel (on piano) and Thierry Escaich (on classical organ).
This will be the US premiere of the score, which, of
course, incorporates Gounod opera themes in the appropriate
The organ used for this event is a $50,000 digital instrument
built by the Allen Organ Company, the world’s largest builder
of organs. The Pennsylvania-based company invented digital
sound more than three decades ago and has over 75,000 installations
in 70 nations worldwide. Digital “samples?of authentic French
organ pipes taken from organs built in France by the great
Aristide Cavaille-Coll have been incorporated into this instrument.
The audience will experience authentic, digitally-mastered
sounds heard in Paris during the great “Belle Epoque?from
an organ with over 3000 pipes.
The opening night short film preceding "Phantom,"
one of the 29 French and American independent features and
shorts seen in competition this year, will be "Site"
a film by Jason Kliot of New York-based Open City Films (producers
of "Three Seasons"). "Site," which
was shown at Sundance and Berlin, is a gripping documentary
portrait of the faces of people witnessing the devastation
of Ground Zero in the weeks immediately following the disaster.
The film's inclusion in the program that evening is particularly
fitting in light of the fact that this year's Opening Night
ceremony will include the presentation of the Medal of the
City of Avignon by that city's fire chief, Commander Alain
Armand, to New York's own Fire Department. Cmdr. Armand,
who will be visiting New York for the first time, will confer
this honor and token of solidarity on behalf of the Mayor
of Avignon, Marie-Josee Roig, and the people of Avignon to
Lt. Danny Williams of Engine Co. 39/Ladder Co. 16 which lost
two brave souls on 9/11. Also on hand representing New
York's Bravest will be Deputy Chief Thomas Galvin, Division
On Saturday, April 20 at 12:30PM, Avignon/New York screens
"Cinepanorama," one of the most intriguing films
shown out-of-competition this year. We'll see a 75-minute
selection of interviews drawn from a six-part documentary
(which is scheduled to air on French television) featuring
filmed interviews by film journalist Francois Chalais of legendary
figures in French and American cinema. These interviews
were a staple of French television in the 50's and early 60's,
but they have not been seen since. Consequently Avignon/New
York Film Festival attendees will actually rediscover Chalais'
impressive work as a cinema reporter, after 40 years of neglect,
even before the French. The program will be introduced
by Dominique Maillet who compiled and restored the footage.
Between 1956 and 1962, Chalais shot these gorgeously-photographed
black and white candid interviews on the sets of some of the
landmarks of the French New Wave, in hotel rooms, and cafes.
Many of the priceless interviews with Americans working
in or visiting France -- people like John Wayne, Billy Wilder
paling around with Gary Cooper, Jane Fonda, Faye Dunaway,
Otto Preminger and Kirk Douglas -- are astonishingly revealing.
Chalais who had an uncanny ability to engage his interviewees
by creating a sense of complicity with them, generally set
up his interviews like three-act plays, with a beginning,
middle and end. Each is a rare and intimate portrait,
each tells a story and is a privileged moment.
# # #