The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

For the Love(craft) of Music: silent movie night at NMSU

Leah De La Torre
The musicians who performed during NMSU’s Department of Music silent movie fest, listed left to right: Michael Mapp (prepared piano), Rhonda Taylor (saxophones), Jacob Dalager (trumpet), Christian Chesanek (bass), Fred Bugbee (percussion). Oct. 30, 2023.

A cacophony of improvised sounds was on display as the New Mexico State University Department of Music hosted a silent movie Halloween party, showing Sean Branney and Andrew Leman’s “Call of Cthulhu” (2005) in the Atkinson Recital Hall on Monday.  

The faculty musicians improvised their own rendition of the musical score in its entirety. The performing faculty members were as follows: Fred Bugbee on percussion, Jacob Dalager on trumpet, Christian Chesanek on bass, Michael W. Mapp played the prepared piano, and Rhonda Taylor played the saxophones.  

Professor Bugbee interviewed producer Sean Branney prior to the event about his love for H.P. Lovecraft’s work and to provide insight into the process of making the movie.  

“We decided to produce H.P. Lovecraft’s ‘Call of Cthulhu’ and thought it might be interesting,” Branney said. “The story has long been considered unfilmable.”  

The movie is shot in the style of a silent film that would have been typical of the 1920s, which is when it was written.  

He also discussed some of the challenges the production team faced when composing the score, which plays from beginning to end over the movie’s entire 47-minute runtime.  

“We found ourselves at the end of production with a truly silent film,” Branney said. “Which is undesirable because the music is so important.”  

In the end, with a bit of luck, the team was able to find a composer willing to work on the film and create the score right before the major film festival submission deadlines.  

Director of Bands at NMSU, Michael Mapp, discussed what it was like to improvise the entirety of the performance with the other faculty members. 

“We all try to improv and hopefully find moments where we groove and we all come together,” Mapp said.  

Branney said that the faculty chamber’s rendition of the score offered a “unique experience” with the film.  

Jason Christopherson, a student attendee, spoke about his experience with silent movies and the music program at NMSU.  

“I went last year to their showing of ‘Nosferatu,’” Christopherson said. “It’s just really cool to see free improvisation alive and well.” 

Mapp also remarked on why hosting these kinds of events is important to students. 

“It’s great for our students because we’re their professors,” Mapp said. “We’re showing them a way to be confident in their musicality.”  

Mapp reflected on what the performance meant to him and the department, as well as how it is one of many hidden gems offered only by NMSU.  

“I think it’s something very unique to the area, I’m not certain of another place that does this sort of thing,” Mapp said. “It’s just one of those great things that NMSU has to offer its students.”

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About the Contributors
Kaden Martinez
Kaden Martinez, Staff Writer
Kaden Martinez is entering his first year at The Round Up as both a staff and a sports writing intern. This is his first time writing for a local publication (or any publication for that matter!). He is also entering his first year as a freshman majoring in Cybersecurity with a minor in Computer Engineering. Since his dad is in the military, he has moved all around New Mexico, having lived in Albuquerque, Springer, Maxwell, and finally Rio Rancho where he graduated. He is the oldest of three siblings. Kaden has always enjoyed writing, whether it was school related or as a hobby. He decided to become a member of The Round Up both to broaden his horizons and step out of his comfort zone by trying something new. Some of his interests include exercising, playing sports, video games, TV shows, and movies.
Leah De La Torre
Leah De La Torre, Multimedia Specialist
Leah De La Torre is entering her second year at The Round Up as a multimedia specialist. She will be majoring in Journalism and Media Studies. She grew up in El Paso, Texas. De La Torre has been making videos with her family and friends since she was in elementary school, and her love for the camera continued through high school as she became a member of the video and broadcast team. There, not only did she learn more about photography and video making but gained an interest in journalism. Her other interests include playing the cello, sewing, and listening to her favorite music artists like Her’s and The Strokes. Working for The Round Up, she hopes to continue doing what she loves, being behind the camera and contributing to making and telling stories about her community.

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