Some say we're in the midst of a silent film renaissance. "The Artist" won five Oscars this year, including Best Picture, which marks the first time a silent film has earned the title since 1928. And Martin Scorsese's "Hugo," an homage of sorts to silent film innovator Georges Méliès, took home its share of statues as well.
But there has also been an increasing number of young composers who are creating new live scores for classic silent movies in order to revive them for contemporary audiences.
That's what the Not-So-Silent-Cinema ensemble has been doing for the past few years. Founded by composer and multi-instrumentalist Brendan Cooney -- a former Philadelphian who moved to Boston last year -- the ensemble's rotating lineup of musicians has so far performed Cooney's original scores for the films "Battleship Potemkin" and "Nosferatu," as well as a few Buster Keaton movies.
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"Seeing a movie with live music allows audiences to both enjoy early film and relate to live music in a new way," says Cooney. "It becomes much more of a social experience."
On Friday, Not-So-Silent-Cinema performs Cooney's new score for 1920's "The Mark Of Zorro" at The Rotunda in West Philly. With leader Cooney playing piano, the ensemble consists of local musicians who also play in the West Philadelphia Orchestra, TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb, and the Oscuro Quintet.
"I try to bring together players from different corners of the music scene who don't usually play together to create unique musical collaborations," says Cooney, who calls this project a "faux Latin-flamenco-tango-mariachi ensemble." "The film's full of adventure, bravura and romance, so I wanted the music to capture that, but also be a little over the top."
If you go
"The Mark of Zorro"
Friday, 8 p.m.
40th and Walnut sts.