UNCG Campus Weekly

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Silent film and soaring music

For decades, the film in its original version was believed to be lost to fire.

The legendary silent film, “The Passion of Joan of Arc,” had been created in 1928 in France by Carl Theodor Dreyer. It featured Renee Jeanne Falconetti, filmed typically in tight close-ups.

Then, in the 1980s, an excellent print was discovered.

On Feb. 28 in Aycock Auditorium, as this classic film is screened, the oratorio score will be performed in a collaboration of the UNCG Chamber Singers, Bel Canto Company, Greensboro Youth Chorus, UNCG faculty soloists Nancy Walker, Clara O’Brien, Robert Bracey, and Robert Wells and members of the UNCG Symphony Orchestra.

The performance will be conducted by Dr. Welborn Young. He is director of choral activities and associate professor of music at UNCG. Since 2005 he has been artistic director and conductor of Bel Canto Company, the noted choral ensemble.

The screen in Aycock is quite large. It will hang just behind the proscenium. The orchestra and vocal performers will be just at the base of the screen. Young says the audience will have “an up-close and personal performance.”

The film is regarded as one of the world’s greatest films.

The musical project is titled “Voices of Light.” The oratorio that will be performed was composed by Richard Einhorn, who will be on hand to see the final rehearsals and the Triad performances.

“This has been such a collaborative effort,” says Young, of the production that will also be performed at the Southern Division of ACDA conference later in the week. “You realize just how big a community you need to make it come about.”

And it’s been a learning experience. When he suggested it, he had never seen it performed. He and his conducting students have experienced a lengthy, beautiful work with no breaks, where visual cues are essential to keep everything in synch. “I’m not used to having a video tell me when to go.”

Once the vocal performers began rehearsals with the visuals, the attention to detail and the language was heightened.

“It’s very powerful,” he says. “It’s emotionally charged.”

Through film and music, you’ll see “Joan in her most heroic and spiritual light,” he adds.

Admission is free for the performance on the UNCG campus. No tickets are required.

The performance begins at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 28, in Aycock Auditorium.

Those with questions may contact welborn.young@gmail.com

By Mike Harris
Visual from the film courtesy Alliance Artist Management.