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Young Composer Chosen To Score A Classic Coming-Of-Age Tale

Fisher's approach is more 'Peter and the Wolf' than 'Pirates of the Carribean.'

DAVID COPPERFIELD

Photo: IU Cinema

A still from the 1922 film.

This coming winter, on Charles Dickens’ 200th birthday, there will be a celebration of Dickens on film at the IU Cinema. To prepare for the celebration, the IU Jacobs School of Music teamed up with the Cinema for a collaboration they’re calling the David Copperfield Project.

Ari Fisher, an undergraduate in the Jacobs School, is a composition major with a minor in orchestral conducting. He won a competition that’s enabling him to score the entire 70-minute silent film version of David Copperfield from 1922. The award will give Fisher a stipend of $6,000, to be distributed over the course of the next few months, so that he can finish the project.

As Copperfield Put It, ‘Punctuality, Order, And Diligence’

At a time when many undergraduates take off for the summer, Fisher is spending his time writing the film score. Describing his process, he says:

I’m still in the process of scoring it. So far I’ve watched it about four times through. Right now I’m going through it to write down time stamps, like where camera angles change, when things happen on the screen. So it’s a lot of playing and pausing.

Fisher says what he’s trying to do in a film score is different from some of what he’s heard in contemporary films. His approach is more Peter and the Wolf than Pirates of the Carribean.

Orchestration is a very big part of composing for me. I feel that every single character should have some kind of motif or, maybe, a certain sound to them. David Copperfield’s stepfather, Mr. Murdstone, is represented by low, grumbling bass, because he’s… well, he’s just mean.

And how are the other characters portrayed musically, in Fisher’s version? “David’s mother,” he says, “is portrayed by the flute; David is more thematic, so there’s a melodic theme as opposed to an instrumental theme.”

‘Ride On, And Win The Race!’

Ari Fisher’s score for the 1922 silent film David Copperfield will be written for chamber orchestra, and will be conducted and performed by Jacobs School of Music students on February 7, 2012.

Rachel Lyon

A native of Brooklyn, NY, Rachel Lyon came to Bloomington in 2009 to pursue her MFA in Creative Writing at IU. At WFIU, she is an announcer for All Things Considered and classical music, and she produces features for Artworks. Rachel's glad to be working in radio again after a long drought since her undergraduate years, when she was a DJ for WPRB, the independent station in Princeton, NJ.

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