ARTICLE BY: DARREL McKAIG, Board Member (MARCOM Chair)
I have been told that some people can watch a film and never be aware that a musical score is being played alongside the dialog. The truth is that without a musical score the emotional impact of a film would be highly diminished. Film scores elevate the angst, the despair, the hope, the fears, the joy, the sadness, the anticipation of a storyline in ways that dialog alone can never accomplish.
On Thursday (October 23) evening at the Lied Center of Kansas, the film score was the center of attention. Yes, Terence Blanchard, the composer, was standing front and center with his trumpet and flanked by five members of his E-Collective ensemble. Their presence only visually shielded the audience from the Lawrence Community Orchestra, conducted by Matt Smith, that was nestled further behind them on stage. The orchestra was an equal (and often the primary) musical collaborator with the musicians up front. But again, the star of the evening was the music itself. Even the large screen at the back of the stage, displaying a collage of still images from the films, overlayed with live camera images of the musicians could not successfully draw the audience away from the music.
In the last three decades, Terence Blanchard has composed the scores for a plethora of films. This performance focused on his film collaborations with Spike Lee. The evening opened with the joyful and grooving theme from the 1990 film, Mo Better Blues. From therethe audience was transported on an emotional journey through the themes of Malcolm X, Clockers, Inside Man and 25th Hour. Being a native of New Orleans, Mr. Blanchard’s involvement in the documentary, When the Levees Broke, was of significant importance to him. Music from When the Levees Broke was performed as A requiem in Four Acts, and the high emotion emanating from the music prompted a spontaneous standing ovation by much of the audience after just the first act!
The evening could have successfully ended then, but it didn’t. The emotional journey at the Lied Center continued and closed with the themes from Miracle at St. Anna and BlackkKlansman. The performance served as a reminder of the critical role that the arts play in voicing the stories of the human plight. Now it is time for this reviewer to find and watch the films (while listening to their scores).
With over 75 credits to his name to date, Terence Blanchard, renowned trumpet player and composer, is a true titan in the world of film and television. His major scores include Spike Lee joints such as BlacKkKlansman, Da 5 Bloods, Mo Better Blues and 25th Hour; Kasi Lemmons films such as Eve’s Bayou and Harriet; along with scores for Regina King (One Night In Miami), George Lucas (Red Tails) and Gina Prince (The Woman King). Film Scores Live! showcases the stunning scores and songs from several films, featuring Blanchard’s ensemble, the E-Collective.
The Lied Center of Kansas serves the state’s flagship university, students and the greater community by functioning as a catalyst for the arts, creativity, engagement and community building through the following core activities: Presenting a series of diverse, relevant and world-class artists which activates our community to strengthen its connection with the arts. Constant public feedback and conversation shape the Lied series. Engaging our community through experiential learning in the performing arts and our world by providing opportunities to attend, explore, participate and create. Serving as a communal gathering space for shared experience, connection, conversation and the celebration of achievement.