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Way Down East
silent film score for live chamber ensemble

Way Down East centers on a naive country girl named Anna (Lillian Gish) who is tricked into a sham marriage by a rich, callous womanizer (Lowell Sherman). She must then rebuild her life despite the taint of having borne a child out of wedlock. The film, directed by D.W. Griffith, is perhaps best remembered for its thrilling climax in which Anna is rescued from doom on an icy river. It is generally regarded as one of the greatest classic films of the silent era.

This new score by Philip Rothman explores contemporary sounds while acknowledging the melodramatic styles of the era. It was commissioned by the Syracuse International Film Festival and premiered by the Society for New Music.

Watch the trailer, browse the score, and read the FAQs. Contact Philip Rothman to rent the performance materials.

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Scored for:
flute, clarinet/bass clarinet, horn,
violin, viola, cello, piano/synth

How long is the film? How much music is there?
Way Down East runs 2 hours and 4 minutes. There is 1 hour and 43 minutes of music.

How is the music broken down within the film?
There are 22 cues ranging in duration from 1 to 14 minutes each. There are brief periods of silence between each cue which allow the musicians to rest, have a sip of water, etc. The movie continues to run during these brief periods of silence. A cue list with timings is included with the performance materials.

How do the musicians stay synchronized with the film? Is a conductor needed?
It is recommended that each performer wear earbuds or headphones which contain a click track embedded in the DVD audio. A conductor is necessary for performance. You may use your own conductor, or Philip Rothman is available to conduct.

What are the technical requirements?
The film is contained on one DVD. Tech requirements include:
  • Synthesizer or electric piano
  • DVD player and projector
  • Movie screen
  • Audio out from the DVD (for click track)
  • Mixing board to split click signal to 8 performers (including conductor)
  • 8 sets of headphones/earbuds
  • Microphone setup (recommended) with sound board operator to control balance
How are the rights acquired to show the film?
Way Down East is in the public domain, so there are no copyright issues regarding the screening of the film. The score, parts, and DVD may be rented by contacting Philip Rothman.
A four-time winner of the ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, Philip's compositions have been performed by the nation's leading orchestras and ensembles.
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