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UI Student-Led Project Brings 1925’s “Phantom of the Opera” to Life with Chamber Orchestra

March 17, 2017

A University of Idaho student’s original composition will bring fresh musical life to the 1925 silent drama “The Phantom of the Opera” during a performance in Spokane in April.

UI senior composition student Dylan Champagne’s original work will be performed by an eight-piece chamber orchestra at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 13, at the Garland Theater in Spokane, Washington. The orchestra will be conducted by Alan Gemberling, a professor in the Lionel Hampton School of Music in the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences.

Champagne’s score was first performed in April 2016 at the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre in Moscow. The success of that chamber orchestra production prompted Champagne to secure a $1,500 grant from UI to refine the composition and bring it to the Spokane screen.

While people may be most familiar with the “Phantom” story through Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, Champagne said the nearly century-old movie reflects a rich cultural zeitgeist while being both campy and serious.

“The experience of viewing a silent film with a live score is profound, harkening to the days before talkies,” Champagne said. “The contingent, ephemeral nature of the live music adds an element of chance and authenticity that starkly contrasts the standardization and mass-production that permeates our contemporary cultural landscape.”

Champagne describes the chamber orchestra as providing an “intimate and raw experience” for watching the movie the way it was intended before talkies came onto the screen.

In his composition, Champagne tries to bring out both the cultural relevance as well as the playfulness and humor that is embedded in the film. Champagne’s score is tightly connected to the movie with elements such as “creepy clarinet” and “angry cello” to accompany star Lon Chaney’s monstrous brilliance.
Tickets for the April 13 performance are $20 for general admission and $15 for students. Tickets are available online at or at the Garland Theater Box office, 924 W. Garland Ave., Spokane. Proceeds from ticket sales will go toward paying the musicians for their time and a recording session of the project.

Media Contacts:
Dylan Champagne

Brad Gary
Communications Coordinator
University of Idaho

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