Gannon University’s Erie Chamber Orchestra Records History

ECO_Zamecnik_ensemblePosted: May 22, 2014


Nine members of Gannon University's Erie Chamber Orchestra (ECO) head into the studio this weekend for a groundbreaking recording project featuring music from film legend J.S. Zamecnik.

This recording's purpose is to shed a new light on the wealth of music contributed by Zamecnik to the fledgling oeuvre that was film composition in the early 20th century. With titles such as "The Treacherous Knave," "Evil Plotter," "Waterfalls" and "Defense of Honor," Zamecnik's music was used as the underscoring for thousands of cartoons, shorts and feature films in the early part of the 20th century.

More specifically, in the Porky Pig cartoon "The Blow Out," one can hear the exact music being played from the song "The Treacherous Knave," one of the 14 cues to be recorded this weekend.

The copies of the full orchestra parts of this music that will be used in the recording project are believed to be the only ones in existence anywhere in the country.

This collection of music from Zamecnik, along with nearly 1,000 individual songs and underscoring from a myriad of composers, was donated to the ECO's founding conductor Bruce Morton Wright a decade ago. Discovered here in the bowels of a University building by then-newly hired ECO general manager Steve Weiser in the summer of 2012, this one-of-a-kind library was once feared lost.

Now, with the help of author, Case Western professor, and worldwide Zamecnik expert Daniel Goldmark, both the region and the nation will have the opportunity to discover the lasting impact Zamecnik has had on modern cinema, a role in which, up until this point, he has been widely and embarrassingly overlooked.

These recording sessions are the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign this past winter, which saw Weiser and the ECO raise more than $5,000 from donors across the world. This method of crowdsourcing has grown over the last few years, allowing smaller budget, non-profit organizations the ability to tackle projects above and beyond their budgets.  

The CD, entitled "The Sounds of the Silents," is slated to be released this fall in conjunction with the ECO's October 17th concert featuring a live presentation of Charlie Chaplin's masterpiece "City Lights."