To both commemorate and kick-off their 9th season, which this year will run from November 11-15th, the Riverside Saginaw Film Festival is conducting a pre-festival concert entitle Heroes of the Silver Screen, which will be held on Sunday, October 18th at 3:00 PM at the Pit & Balcony Theatre, 805 N. Hamilton Street in Saginaw.
The concert will feature music scores from selected heroic films of the Silver Screen and will be performed by the Riverside Saginaw Film Festival Orchestra, conducted by David Valasek. Thanks to the committed support and generosity by Garber Automotive Group, this concert is free to the public; but to show support for our American Heroes, festival organizers are asking concert goers to bring an item for the monthly ‘Aaron’s Gifts from Home’. Following the concert will be a dessert reception at Pit & Balcony.
Two years ago Valasek assembled the inaugural performance of The Riverside Orchestra that was held at First Congregational Church. “The response was so positive that the Riverside Festival Committee decided to do a second thematic concert this year, largely because there is so much great music featured in the movies that we often don’t get the opportunity to hear live,” explains Festival Director Irene Hensinger.
MC David Oppermann will also talk about the upcoming Riverside Film Festival and the films that the featured concert music will revolve around, so this kick-off concert also serves as a good preview to the 2015 Riverside Festival.
According to Dave Valasek, who is also Director of the Saginaw Concert Band and music director at Nouvel, “The Riverside Film Festival Orchestra is comprised of largely professional musicians and this year we will have about 32 performers. Technically the group is called a wind ensemble, because its comprised of all wind instruments with one player per part. Some of the musicians are from the Saginaw Eddy Band and a few hail form Midland & Bay City.”
“Because so much of this program consists of music from war films and is a free concert, we are asking people to bring some care packages for our military servicemen,” adds Irene. “Aaron’s Gifts from Home send out care packages to servicemen, so we encourage people to support this endeavor.” Items in need consist of snacks, beef jerky, fruit snacks, cookies and nuts, individual meals such as beef stew or Spaghetti O’s, drink mixes, books, magazines, CD’s, or personal hygiene items. All items should be travel size and non-aerosol products. A complete list is available at aaronsgiftsfromhome.com. Additionally, you may submit a name of a service person serving overseas to receive a package from home at the Aaron’s Gifts from Home website.
Valasek says the musical selections for this program were largely based upon familiarity and popularity, yet offer a divergent range of orientation across the spectrum of American War films. “The biggest challenge with translating these military songs often centers around interpretation,” explains David. “You have to capture the spirit of the film in music without having the visual element present, so that can be a difficult challenge. I do watch the films to get the picture in my head of what’s going on; and then pretty much articulate things from that point.”
Musical members of The Riverside Film Festival Orchestra consist of the following: Lauren Rongo, Ellen Goff, Lynn Rozek (flute); Linda Hargett, Jean Cole, Todd Swannecke, Dawn Kerr (Clarinet); Marcile Cunningham (bass clarinet); Liza Bale (oboe); Dave Fitts & Tom Zantow (Bassoon); Sue Little & Barb Bruske (alto Sax); Ben Hartwick (Tenor Sax); Ryan Elliott, Chris Deming, Paul Marshall, Sara Beth Keough & Doug Schuller (trumpet); Gaye Terwilliger, Lynn Swannecke, Madison Krieger (French horn); Joe Radtke & Sherry Wielinski (trombone); Aaron Aikens (euph); Jason Mauer (tuba); Ed Cunningham (string bass) and percussionists Jason Lewis & Kenny.
Music performed will include Samuel Barber: Adagio for Strings, which has been used in films such as The Elephant Man, Platoon, and Lorenzo’s Oil; John Williams Hymn for the Fallen, from Saving Private Ryan, along with Williams March from 1941; Richard Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries from Apocalypse Now; John Barnes’ Star Spangled Spectacular; Kenneth Alford’s Colonel Bogey; and the memorable ‘whistling song’ from The Bridge on the River Kwai.
“In translating these songs, you get an incredible sense about the challenge for the composers,” reflects Valasek. “In Apocalypse Now’s combat scenes we are give a fragmented, disjointed view from which Coppola used to communicate the true nature of the Vietnam war and every modern war. The choice of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries is interesting as it serves an important function in the film – the music is majestic, composed and a symbol of both heroism and riding into hell itself.”
“Meanwhile, Saving Private Ryan won five Oscars in 1998 and the job for John Williams was a tricky one. Spielberg wanted to keep much of the film silent, to concentrate on the true horrors of war and to make sure the harsh and real sounds of death were heard. The limits this put on the composer were considerable, but he sill managed to come away with a moving theme, played over the end credits and soon becoming a stand-alone hit.”
9th Annual Riverside Film Festival • A Sneak Preview
As they embark upon their 9th season of offering a broad and varied array of first-run feature films, foreign films, documentaries, short films, and U.S premiers – all spearheaded by this kick-off concert of Heroes of the Silver Screen, this year’s Riverside Saginaw Film Festival is decidedly poised for greatness. In 2014 they were the recipient of an All Area Arts Award; and 2015 finds the organization evolving in many positive directions.
This year films will be shown at The Saginaw Club, Pit & Balcony, 1st Congregational Church in the Bradley House Theatre, The Temple Theatre, Hoyt Library, The Temple Theatre; and this year The Castle Museum will be added to pick up the flow from the closure of The Court Theatre.
“Generally the festival has run from Thursday through Sunday in the past,” explains Festival Director Irene Hensinger, “but his year we are adding a Wednesday showing and featuring two Star Trek films, in memory of Leonard Nimoy, who passed away over the past year. We’ll be showing two 35 millimeter Big Screen films at The Temple Theatre on November 11th – The Wrath of Khan and The Voyage Home, which are two of the best. One screening will be at 5 PM and the other at 8 PM.”
“Last year we decided to pay tribute to late movie actors and paid homage to Robin Williams and are doing that again this year with a series of four films,” she continues. “We’ll be showing Gigi in memory of Louis Jordan, a Wes Craven Film, and a movie by Rowdy Roddy Piper, who was a wrestler. All of these will be free and shown at Hoyt Library.”
“In terms of our organization, we are doing very well,” reflects Irene. “We feature films that rival those shown at any of the big festivals and have received wonderful support from individuals, businesses, and local foundations, which is undeniably important. Without their support we could not exist; plus this support allows us to keep ticket prices low and affordable.”
“Additionally, this year we worked with a facilitator and pulled together a 5-year Strategic Master Plan, to help guide us into the future. We’ve also applied to a marketing class at Saginaw Valley State University through their ‘Adopt a Business’ program and got accepted. They will be doing surveys and gathering demographics and data by surveying audiences at all of the venues and interviewing our Board Members. All of this will be beneficial to us as we continue to grow.”
For a comprehensive look at the 2015 9th Annual Riverside Saginaw Film Festival, watch for a complete supplement and breakdown on all the films in the November 5th edition of Review Magazine. You can also visit their website at www.riversidesaginawfilmfestival.org.
16th November, 2023