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Seattle cellist adds sound to Alfred Hitchcock’s silent movies


Unbeknownst to most people, Alfred Hitchcock made a string of very successful silent films. Those films will get a rare showing this weekend at SIFF Cinema, with live musical accompaniment.

Cellist Lori Goldston will be performing two original soundtracks for two shows this weekend.

Goldston is so versatile a classical cellist that she actually toured with Nirvana and appeared in the band’s legendary MTV Unplugged concert.

Lately she’s been writing and performing film scores for silent movies.

“They’re very beautiful and it’s really interesting to see the sort of proto-Hitchcock at work, like Hitchcock slowly becoming Hitchcock,” says Goldston.

Goldston will play her cello for the 1927 boxing movie, “The Ring” and the 1929 love triangle drama, “The Manxman.” She says the cello is uniquely qualified to score silent films.

“The cello is very visceral, so it’s nice I think for giving the audience a little bit of an out-of-body experience. I like to really try to help people get swept away with the film.”

So how does she actually compose for a film?

“It’s pretty intuitive. I try to think about the place and the setting and the mood. And I also try to think about the pace and the dynamic of the narrative arc,” says Goldston.

She actually watches the movie so many times that she says, “I basically end up with it on a continuous loop in my head. I can really memorize them and they really stick in my head.”

Goldston says writing contemporary music for silent era films is a tricky proposition.

“I also end up being a little bit of a bridge between the way people thought in the 1920s and the way people are thinking now because the pace is very different, the expectation is very different.”

She says she chose to score “The Manxman” because of its setting on the Isle of Man and “The Ring” because she loves boxing.

“It’s kind of a guilty pleasure.”

Here’s a little taste of what you can expect this weekend at SIFF Cinemas, with a live performance from composer Lori Goldston and vocalist Jessika Kenney.

Find more things to do this weekend on the MyNorthwest event calendar.

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