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'Symphony of Horror' is a treat for Halloween night

Count Orlok returns with Arizona Pro Arte for "Symphony of Horror"
October 21, 2013

ASU alum leads Arizona Pro Arte in Halloween symphonic treat

Before “Twilight,” before “True Blood,” there was “Nosferatu.” Widely considered the most unforgettable film in the vampire genre, this creation by F. W. Murnau defined the vampire legend for all films to follow and offered the most disturbing image of the undead ever seen: the eerie and inhuman Count Orlok.

Arizona Pro Arte invites classic film and classical music lovers to celebrate Halloween at the Tempe Center for the Arts with an Oct. 31 screening of this silent masterpiece, with live accompaniment provided by the APA orchestra. This unique performance experience, titled “Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror,” is created and conducted by APA’s founding artistic director Timothy Verville, who received his doctorate in music from ASU.

Faithfully adapted from Bram Stoker’s unforgettable novel “Dracula,” “Nosferatu” was judged so disturbing upon its 1922 release that it was banned in one nation, and the courts of another ordered prints of the film destroyed. But several copies apparently could not be killed, so the cinematic masterpiece has intrigued audiences through the decades to today, and of course, on Halloween.

“Nosferatu” featured many firsts, including special effects that were groundbreaking in its day and unprecedentedly ghoulish makeup. And it was filmmaker Murnau who added a now-familiar twist to vampire lore: that the undead can be killed by sunlight.

The original “Nosferatu” also utilized a full orchestra score, performed live during the film, but the music was lost. In years since, composers have sought to recreate the score, even reinvent or replace it. As he did for “Alice in Wonderland” last season, Verville will bring musical life to Murnau’s classic with a score created from familiar orchestral classics by Brahms, Wagner and Dvořák, as well as lesser-known works, including one created for the project by APA’s composer in residence, Christopher Norby. The Oct. 31 performance at the Tempe Center for the Arts will be the premiere of the new musical score with the film.

Audience members who arrive 45 minutes before the 7:30 curtain will enjoy a preconcert discussion of the film and music with Ron Newcomer, author of “Moments in Film.” Newcomer received his degree in arts management and directing from ASU, and has since been involved with more than 1,700 stage, television or film productions. He is a prize-winning screenwriter, a faculty member at Chandler-Gilbert Community College and a previous winner of the Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award from ASU’s Herberger College of the Arts.

“Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror” will be presented one night only, Thursday, Oct. 31, in the Theater of the Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 West Rio Salado Parkway on the south shore of Tempe Town Lake. Ron Newcomer’s pre-concert discussion begins at 6:45 p.m. and the film and performance begin at 7:30 p.m. Arizona Pro Arte’s July and August performances sold out, and another sold-out house is expected for “Nosferatu,” so advance ticket purchase is strongly recommended. Information and tickets are available at

Read more about Arizona Pro Arte and the new season at Hear Sterling Beeaff’s July interview with APA artistic director and conductor Timothy Verville on KBAQ at