Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Curse and the Symphony (October 8th, 10th, and 12th at the Chagrin Documentary Festival)

[THE CURSE AND THE SYMPHONY screens Wednesday October 8th at 7:00 pm, Friday October 10 th at 7:00 pm, and Sunday October 12 th at 12:00 pm at the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

Composer Nathan Felix
Nathan Felix, formerly of the indie rock band Noise Revival Orchestra, heard a symphony in his head and was bound and determined to get that music out into the world. The work, titled “The Curse, The Cross, & the Lion”, comes complete with a story and cast of characters that, from the illustrations we see, looks something like the Thundercats fighting an epic battle against the creatures from THE DARK CRYSTAL. Heck, I'd see a ballet or opera based around that idea.

Unfortunately, the modern world of classical music isn't especially open to new works even from more traditional composers. Audiences want to hear the standards, and with budgets for orchestras already being fairly slim, you give the patrons what they want or there may not be an orchestra at all. So the fact that Nathan gets rejected by one orchestra after another says nothing about the quality of his work. It's just the way things are.

Despite the obstacles, Nathan keeps trying. Eventually a friend puts him in touch with conductor Andre Lousada, who was living in Prague at the time. As luck would have it, though, Andre wound up in America. He was interested enough in Nathan's symphony to take a stab at conducting a recording of it, but with some pretty stringent time constraints: one day of rehearsal, and one day of actual recording. It could well be Nathan's only chance to make his dreams reality, but would they be able to pull it off?

While THE CURSE AND THE SYMPHONY doesn't quite feel like it needs to be stretched to feature length, at just shy of twenty minutes it could stand to be a little meatier. We kind of get rushed through a process that took several years, and while we some idea of who Nathan is and what drives him, a little more about both him and his collaborators would have been nice. Still, what's here is not without interest, even for those with only limited knowledge of classical music. At the end of the day, while the music itself is important, the movie is really about one man trying to realize his dreams against the odds, and who can't relate to that? 2 ½ out of 4 stars.

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