David Rutherford talks about Captured in Film and the future of classical music

David Rutherford, director of the Musica Sacra Chamber Orchestra, begrudges classical music institutions for relying on snobbery to attract audiences. Elitism has fallen out of fashion, he says; the border erected between the public and performers needs to crumble and musical institutions need to create new ways to bring in crowds. For Rutherford, the perfect ingredient for cooking up a vibrant future for classical music is collaboration. For his most recent "out of the box" performance, his chamber orchestra is working with Augustana Arts, Buntport Theater and CU Denver's film program on an evening of vaudeville and silent film called Captured in Film, a theatrical-cinematic-musical hybrid. In advance of the project's latest effort this weekend, Westword chatted with Rutherford. See also: Filmmaker Guy Maddin on cinematic séances and the Brakhage Symposium

Westword: Talk about what Captured in Film is.

David Rutherford: It's a collaborative project between the Musica Sacra Chamber Orchestra, Buntport Theater and CU Denver Film. It's part of our overarching season theme of looking at time from different points of view through the lens of music. In one of our concerts, we looked at 1931, so everything was connected, somehow, to 1931 and looking from that perspective. There was one called Frozen in Time, where if you took any one moment of your life, what would that moment sound like in music and how could music give you a better understanding of what was going on in that part of your life? This one is about how certain moments get captured in film. We've got these great moments from the 1910s and 1920s that were captured on film. It's just great fun and as accessible and fun to do now as they were back in 1920.

Part of my background is that I've done quite a bit of silent film -- presenting it in an authentic way, in the way that it was done back in the '20s, but not as a stand-alone feature itself. In order to get audience for films, they were first introduced as a part of other live entertainment. The way the program works, we have three silent films separated by live vaudeville and melodrama. It's exactly how it would have been done in the early '20s. I approached Buntport Theater with this project to provide the live elements between the films. They've done a fabulous job. It's not only that they're doing the live aspects of the presentation, but they've also created a third and brand-new film. The first two are from the '20s: Buster Keaton's One Week and Charley Chase's Mighty Like a Moose. Together, they created a third and final film -- a film which wraps up the whole shebang.

In the spirit of vaudeville and melodrama, we'll probably call a person up from the audience to be a part of the drama. I wanted to put things together so that everybody there is a part of what's going on. So having somebody come up, a person, a volunteer from the audience to come up and be a part of the show was important to me in putting the project together.

Read on for more from David Rutherford.

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Kyle Harris has been Westword’s Culture Editor since 2016, writing about the arts, music and film.
Contact: Kyle Harris

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