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Philip Glass Ensemble plays ‘Dracula’ movie at Prospect Park band shell

Vampire movie at twilight

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Even with the music, you still hear the screams.

The Philip Glass Ensemble will perform its soundtrack to the 1931 “Dracula” movie at Celebrate Brooklyn while the original film is projected on the big screen.

The music, which Glass composed more than 60 years after the movie was made, is the only one the classic monster movie has ever had.

When director Tod Browning — of “Freaks” fame — made “Dracula” in 1931, “talkies” were still a new phenomenon and soundtracks were not yet a consideration in making movies. Other than in the titles in the beginning and a scene in a concert hall in the middle of the movie, it is all dialogue from start to finish.

“At that time, there were still organs in theaters, so there may have been people playing along,” said Michael Riesman, musical director and keyboardist of the Philip Glass Ensemble.

In the 1990s, Universal Studios contacted Glass and asked him to write a soundtrack for the film. The studio then released the soundtrack on a CD and re-released the movie on VHS with the new soundtrack. Today, the film is available on DVD with both versions.

Glass asked Kronos Quartet to record the soundtrack in the studio. But when he asked them to take the one hour and 25 minute piece on tour, they insisted on having other musicians fill out the arrangements. So, Glass brought in Riesman and a few other musicians.

In the past 10 years, the ensemble has performed the soundtrack at least 50 times. There are a handful of different arrangements, including the woodwind-heavy version that the ensemble will perform in Prospect Park.

“The string version lacks the colors we get,” said Riesman. “The woodwinds are creepier and more lugubrious.”

Dracula with the Philip Glass Ensemble at Prospect Park Bandshell [Entrance at Prospect Park West and 9th Street, (718) 683–5600, www.bricartsmedia.org]. July 13 at 7:30 pm, free.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.
Updated 10:12 pm, July 9, 2018
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