This page highlights reviews of the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra's live performances. Reviews of our recorded work are included on the Recordings page.
"...it’s a particular pleasure to hear silent-film music as it was actually performed in most of the first-run theaters of that era — which is to say, by an orchestra.... Mr. Sauer specializes in compiling scores from the authentic photoplay music of the period, drawing on the work of neglected composers like Gaston Borch and J. S. Zamecnik; the results are often breathtakingly beautiful and always in the strict service of the film on the screen." -- Dave Kehr, the New York Times, April 25 2008
"...you were terrific." -- Gunther Schuller, after a performance of The Oyster Princess, May 5, 2013.
"...ending my attendance of the Turner Classic Movies film festival with the screening of The Thief of Bagdad (1924) on Sunday night meant ending it on a high note. The magic was supplied not only by the big screen, but also by the live performance of the movie score. The Mont Alto Orchestra relied on so-called compiled score, as opposed to the composed and improvised variants of photoplay music that were in use during the silent movie era. As small as the ensemble is (five permanent members), they truly filled every nook of the theatre with music. They choose to use a modified version of the James C. Bradford cue sheet for the film, and this adapted version can be found on their website. Mont Alto Orchestra is celebrating the variety that the cue sheet interpretation process offers, as it represents the experience past audiences had more closely.... I can only attest to the fact that their choice and their rendition of the score has earned them quite a few bravos and a standing ovation, as it was quite essential to the viewing." -- Tatiana Sulovska, Screen Invasion
"The Mont Alto group, led by Rodney Sauer, played an exquisite score for The Woman Men Yearn For." -- Leonard Maltin.
"The musical accompaniment for this film was the great Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra for their sole performance of the festival. Many times I felt like I was hearing an impossibly high quality soundtrack playing from the film and had to look over at the performers playing. Absolutely wonderful music which followed the film impeccably, capitalizing on various points and in the process showing an understanding of the moods of the film as though they had taken part in its creation." Fimbalaya.
"...Complaints about a lack of originality are misplaced. This music accomplishes exactly what is supposed to, and does so with verve and originality. So much of music, and not just by so-called "minor" composers, relies on formula. Well-crafted and effective, Zamencik's work comes alive when performed with the conviction and expertise of the Mont Alto Orchestra. Equally important in their memorable performance is subtlety, the group's defining quality, even if one not generally associated with music that many dismiss as exaggerated.... What the Mont Alto Orchestra also continually demonstrates is the nearness of these movie scores to dance music—dance and movies, being the main forms of entertainment for the young of the 1920s. The group treats these pieces with a keen sense of style, especially in the way they expand the measure with touches of extra time, resisting the modern, sterile temptation to play perfectly in time. These masterful and varied demonstrations of ensemble rubato give to their music a rare suavity, without which it might seem merely quaint." -- David Yearsley, Counterpunch.org.
"These films all boast new scores by some of the new crop of silent film accompanists. Notables such as Stephen Horne, Neil Brand, Eric Beheim, and my personal favorites Rodney Sauer and the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra wrote/compiled and played wonderful scene-specific scores for these films. The music really enhances the viewing experience tremendously. Bravo to Flicker Alley to going to the extra expense to get top tier musicians to play along with these films. If anyone isn't sure if the music makes a big difference, compare this set with the music to the recent Fantomas five film collection. It really is astounding how much more enjoyable silent movies are with appropriate music." -- John, Sinnott, DVDTalk.com.
"...Chicago is an astonishingly well-made entertainment, especially in how it negotiates wild swings in tone. Much of Roxie's rise and fall is played as rambunctious comedy — nestled securely within a slick satire of the news media's ability to affect and degrade the process of criminal justice — but the mood can segue instantly into edgy melodrama, especially when it details Amos' slow crawl to self-awareness. In an article in Flicker Alley's accompanying booklet, Rodney Sauer, the leader of The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, discusses the challenges of arranging a score for such a mercurial film, but he's crafted a beauty. The story's lighter moments often carry a sweetly swinging period pop tune, and here Sauer's crack eight-piece ensemble sounds like a pit band for a twenties Jerome Kern musical. Sauer also expertly arranged a few well-judged sound effects; never have I heard a more convincing jangle from a garter rimmed with little bells. -- Gordon Thomas, Bright Lights Film Journal, August, 2010
GREELEY CO (KUNC) - Truly a magical event is happening at Loveland's Rialto theatre tonight -- the silent film version of Peter Pan, one of the most beautiful and enchanting of all silent films. The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra is reviving a score last presented ten years ago, and they're not sure when they will be performing it again, so this is an opportunity to see a rarely screened but magical film in the ideal environment: a genuine 1920 movie theater, with live musicians in the pit! Tonight at 7pm at the Rialto theatre in Loveland. -- Wendy Wham, KUNC radio.
"...But the great treasure of this year’s Telluride was the nearly 3-hour 1928 silent film L’Argent, directed by the now-neglected French director Marcel L’Herbier. Magnificently restored — accompanied by a new musical score, written and performed by the Mont Alto Picture Orchestra, this brilliantly stylized film, set in the world of financial speculation, where greed and romance co-exist, reaches the epic heights of great classics like Greed or Sunrise. The film is truly a revelation and even if Telluride were below the altitude of 8,500 feet above sea level, you’d still get high watching this film." -- Milos Stehlik, Chicago Public Radio.
"Here’s one example of why the Telluride Film Festival, every single year, leaves me ecstatic and exhausted with pleasure. The festival showed a silent film by the French director Marcel l’Herbier. He’s not a household name anywhere anymore; he’s known mostly by people with a particular depth of interest in film. The movie is called l’Argent, which means “money.” It’s a conventional melodrama about greed, made in 1928, not long before the last big crash, and it runs nearly three hours. But over and over, L’Argent stuns you with its beauty and imagination. There’s a sequence about a pilot attempting a flight to South America, and French stockbrokers are worried because the fate of a huge financial enterprise – a crooked one – hangs in the balance. The film shows an Art Deco loudspeaker, and the announcement about the pilot which would take about 30 seconds in real life, is stretched out with reactions and complexities, over several minutes. It was a startling elongation of time, and watching it in a wonderful theater with the Mont Alto Orchestra playing a magnificent original score – the audience was in bliss." -- Howie Movshovitz, Colorado Public Radio, KCFR, Denver.
"The San Francisco audience cheered for Bardelys the Magnificent, and a wonderful score performed by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra (which also appears on the Flicker Alley DVD)." -- Leonard Maltin, leonardmaltin.com
"The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra unveiled its stunning score for The Gaucho last night before a packed Castro Theater. My wife, who had never attended an Opening Night before, says she now knows what the fuss is about. Great film, rousing music, pumped crowd--what could be better? Can't wait for Bardelys today." -- Mark Pruett, at nitrateville.com
"Fairbanks was spectacular in his stunts and skill with the bolas, we would expect nothing less from Doug. The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra debuted a new score for The Gaucho. It was a terrific score and a great success judging by the reaction of the audience. A Standing O, well deserved." -- Donna Hill, at Strictly Vintage Hollywood.
"The presence of the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra was a major asset for the screening of Erotikon, a 1929 silent film from Czechoslovakia with a striking visual style.... With Rodney Sauer leading the ensemble from the piano, the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra did a wonderful job of conveying passionate longing, intrigue, and underscoring key moments of the film with a series of slowly-building climaxes that reminded me of some of Gounod's and Wagner's techniques for building a relentless sense of suspense." -- George Heymont, My Cultural Landscape
"To give credit where credit is due, power of the scene at this screening [of Erotikon] was enhanced immeasurably by the original score by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. The love theme that builds from when their eyes first meet to Ita’s first sexual experience with the handsome traveler evokes her ecstasy with a lush explosion of deliriously romantic music. The score is never again that exciting or emotionally stirring, which perfectly matches her story." -- Sean Axmaker, Parallax View
Douglas Fairbanks: A Modern Musketeer was awarded Best Box Set at Il Cinema Ritrovato annual international DVD competition for 2009.This is a fairly fierce contest; for example, the 2008 candidates included entries from The Criterion Collection, Carlotta Films of France, Svenska Filminstitute, Editions Montparnasse of France, Milestone Film and Video, Gaumont, British Film Institute, Eureka/Masters of Cinema, Transit Film/Ufa of Germany, Edition Filmmuseum, Ripley's Films of Italy, Re-Voir of France, and All Day Entertainment. Not only did our own Flicker Alley come out on top of this impressive heap; it's also their second triumphant year in a row, since the 2008 winner was George Melies: First Wizard of Cinema.The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra contributed two film scores to Douglas Fairbanks: A Modern Musketeer (both The Mark of Zorro and the title film A Modern Musketeer). Mont Alto contributed several scores to George Melies: First Wizard of Cinema, including the longest film in the set, The Conquest of the Pole.
"The score was performed by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, and they do a wonderful job, as always. I really can't think of anything new to say about this group, save that they are the best combo currently scoring silent films. If you see their name on a DVD, you can be assured that you're in for a good soundtrack." -- DVDTalk
"This excellent edition from Flicker Alley offers a crystalline transfer... The score, compiled from period music by Rodney Sauer and performed by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, provides glittering support." -- The New York Times
"With excellent musical accompaniment by Rodney Sauer’s Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra (for “The Italian”) and the pianist Philip Carli (for “Traffic in Souls”), this is one of the summer’s most outstanding releases." --Dave Kehr, The New York Times.
On Go West: This is considered one of his "lesser" features, but it is still pretty good. I've seen it several times off of the Keaton box set, but it was still great in front of a big audience. His gags with a tiny revolver in his holster were very inventive and got the crowd laughing every time. Keaton's female lead is a cow, "Brown Eyes" and she really overshadows the human female lead, Kathryn Grayson. The whole point of the film is to get the cattle stampede through town. Keaton rounds 'em up by putting on a red devil costume and getting the cattle to chase him. Mont Alto had a great score for this one".
On Bardelys the Magnificent: "Bardleys the Magnificient" looked just gorgeous, and the Mont Alto soundtrack was wonderful. It's a swashbuckler and Gilbert was very good. It almost got too mushy, but the last reel has plenty of sword-fighting action. You won't be disappointed...
On Cobra: "It's a good thing that Mont Alto did the score for this, because a poor score would really doom this film" --Bruce Calvert
"...just wanted to reiterate how wonderful both shows were. I can’t remember when the staff has been so effusive – and we’re a tough audience! We’re amazed that five of you manage to sound like a full orchestra. And the scores were perfect.... We would love to have you back some time. I’m planning to be in San Francisco in July so will see you there." -- Sayre Maxfield, Programming Associate, Films at Lincoln Center, New York.
Last night I had the very great pleasure of attending a rare eastern appearance and performance by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. The film was Harold Lloyd's The Kid Brother. The venue was Cornell Cinema on the campus of the Ivy league college in Ithaca, NY. I'm happy to report that the film and the accompaniment were a resounding success. The musical pieces, aside from being authentic stock motion picture themes, were entirely appropriate to the moods and action on the screen. Some of the musical pieces were quite lovely on their own and were rendered masterfully by the musicians on piano, violin, cello, clarinet and trumpet. The film itself was also well received by audience. The laughs and gasps of delight increased as the film progressed and the attendees exploded into a prolonged standing ovation at the film's conclusion. I've attended quite a few live silent screenings and numerous film festivals over the years, but this had to be one of the most appreciated and enjoyable film performances that I've seen and heard. I also am a semi-regular patron of Cornell Cinema and the crowd response was the best for any film that I've witnessed there. I would like to posit an opinion, too - that Harold Lloyd films play as well to the modern screen audience as any of the silent comedians. The Kid Brother is a great example of the very mature state of film making in the late silent era and to Lloyd productions in general - production design, cinematography, story lines, gags, casting, acting, direction, etc. I highly recommend this film and particularly accompanied by the Mont Alto, if you have the chance. -- Roger P., at nitrateville.com
"...but the undoubted highlight is Marcel L'Herbier's spectacular Art Moderne adaptation of Zola's "L'Argent," restored to its full three-hour length by the French Film Archives and presented with a live accompaniment by that most sensitive and accomplished of silent film ensembles, the Mont Alto Orchestra." -- Dave Kehr, the New York Times, January 20, 2011.
"I was there later on Sunday for The Silent Enemy, and had been there for Friday night's opening movie, The Kid Brother. At both, the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra played; the music was so terrific it could have stood separately as a concert. The film/music combo, well, was like hot fudge on a sundae." -- Leah Garchik, San Francisco Chronicle
"The musical accompaniment for these films was as diverse as the bill of fare itself: we heard pianists Donald Sosin, Stephen Horne (in from London) and Michael Mortilla, organist Clark Wilson, who played the dickens out of the Castro’s Mighty Wurlitzer, the Baguette Quartette, which accompanied René Clair’s French comedy Les Deux Timides, and The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, based in Boulder, Colorado, which not only plays beautifully and with great feeling, but offers authentic music of the period compiled by leader and pianist Rodney Sauer. Rodney’s young daughter Molly even joined in on percussion effects, and did a fine job simulating gunshots for Broncho Billy and synchronizing tom-toms to the action in The Silent Enemy.
"The Silent Enemy (1930) turned out to be my personal discovery of the weekend. I have the recent DVD release from Milestone but I’ve never gotten around to watching it, and in a way I’m glad; seeing David Shepard’s archival 35mm print at the Castro with the Mont Alto accompaniment was a perfect way to be introduced to this stunning film. It follows in the tradition of Cooper and Schoedsack’s Grass and Chang, creating a storyline and characters in a documentary setting, in this case the saga of the Ojibway Indian tribe of upstate New York. How the cameramen made tracking shots in the midst of a blinding snowstorm, or achieved steady point-of-view shots in a canoe, is beyond me. The climactic caribou run is one of the most astonishing sights I have ever witnessed on film—and director H. P. Carver and his crew had time enough to get coverage of this event from a variety of angles!" -- Leonard Maltin, leonardmaltin.com
"Live music was supplied with wit and spirit by Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, a quintet dedicated since 1994 to reviving the authentic period sound of the silent film orchestra." -- http://spenceralley.blogspot.com/2008/07/silent-film-festival.html
'The fest started off on a very high note on Friday night with a screening of Harold Lloyd's The Kid Brother accompanied by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. One of Lloyd's funniest films (it was his favorite) with music by the best music combo that specializes in silent movies -- an unbeatable combination." -- John Sinnott, DVDtalk.com
"Audio Transfer Review: The score for The Italian is provided by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra; the compilation score is quite effective in support without being obtrusive. The recording quality is exceptional, with a vividness and a sense of presence that is duplicated on few other discs. It truly feels like having the Mont Alto right there in your living room, with excellent depth and resonance." -- Digitally Obsessed.
"At a time, in the teens and early 20's, when divorce was becoming increasingly common but still considered scandalous, DeMille took it as the subject of a series of films. Two, Don't Change Your Husband (1919) and Why Change Your Wife? (1920), have recently been released in fine, tinted versions with excellent scores by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra." -- Dave Kehr, the New York Times
"The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra does an absolutely wonderful job on the score to this film... This score fits the film beautifully, from Don Diego's introduction where the silence of a stranger entering a bar obscured by an umbrella is broken with some frivolous sounding music to the fast-paced songs used for the exciting chase at the end. The music always compliments the action on screen, but never overpowers it or distracts from the visuals. Needless to say, the members of Mont Alto are excellent musicians which makes this score all the more enjoyable to hear.... This is a great Fairbanks film, full of excitement, comedy, and just the right amount of drama. This charming film is wonderfully accentuated by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra's score. Though the disc is only available through their web site, it's worth picking up as it's a quality production all the way around. Highly Recommended."-- John Sinnott, DVDTalk.com
"Sherlock Jr. is Buster Keaton at absolute perfection. The audience was howling. The print looked great and the motorcycle ride near the end of the film is one of cinema's great action sequences. The Mont Alto Orchestra played for this film and it couldn't have been better. They accompany silent films with music that would have been played at the time. So far in the series this has been the musical highlight, not necessarily in uniqueness or style, but in sheer cohesion with the film that is playing. It only enhances the film, sometimes greatly, and never distracts." -- Adrian Bordeleau, blogspot.com
"One of the weekend’s highlights was a screening of a restored 35mm print of the 1929 German film People on Sunday (Menschen am Sontag)... This incredibly modern film uses amateur actors to integrate a slight storyline about a double-date on a Sunday afternoon with actuality footage of people on the streets of Berlin. The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra provided ideal accompaniment, playing musical director Rodney Sauer’s compilation of popular songs and themes from the period. But the most exciting part about watching this film, on the huge screen at the 500-seat Galaxy theater, was realizing that the audience was completely engaged. This was no museum piece: it was a still-vital piece of filmmaking that enveloped and invigorated a modern-day audience. I found it thrilling." -- Leonard Maltin, at www.leonardmaltin.com.
"...the jazzy accompaniment by the Colorado-based quintet the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra resulted in the first standing ovation of the day." -- Meredith Brody, SFWeekly.com
"The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra accompanied Beggars of Life; my first time hearing this quintet. Far more traditional than other small “orchestras” on the silent film circuit (The Alloy Orchestra, the Silent Orchestra, the Devil Music Ensemble, the Clubfoot Orchestra), Mont Alto sticks to classical acoustic instruments and often to scores written when the films were new. I’m not a purist when it comes to silent film accompaniment, but you don’t have to be to appreciate what purists can do. Judging from this one performance, Mont Alto can do wonders." -- Lincoln Spector, bayflicks.net.
"The new score for the film is composed and performed by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, a superb quintet that appeared at this year's San Francisco Silent Film Festival." -- Berkeley Daily Planet.
"The Mont Alto Orchestra did a magnificent job with the score and succeeded in making the drama even more intense." -- John Sinnott, DVDTalk.com
"It drew me right into the picture -- it was fantastic. Don't miss Mont Alto when they perform to silent films." -- Wendy Wham, KUNC Radio.
"Mont Alto are one of the best groups specializing in silent film scores performing today. They've recorded several excellent audio tracks for silent films on DVD including The Thief of Bagdad and Mary Pickford's Suds. Seeing them perform live will certainly be a treat." -- John Sinnott, DVDTalk.com
"I have to say that Rodney and the rest of the Mont Alto folks couldn't have been nicer or easier to work with. Despite the lack of room in (half) the orchestra pit, they put up with it without complaint. And you really get the feeling that these people like the film they're accompanying and love what they are doing.... I also thought the show was great, very nice print and a very well-made and entertaining film. The score was 100% excellent. I cannot imagine any accompanying music to this film that would be more appropriate. I've been a fan of Mont Alto since the first time I heard them (on Turner Classic Movies) and it was a very great pleasure to hear them live.... If Chicago ever DOES come out on home video, I'd hope that it would have the Mont Alto score." -- Art Pierce, Director of the Capitol Theater, posting on alt.movies.silent.
"I've seen silent film presentations on three continents, and I can tell you -- this is as good as it gets. It doesn't get any better." --Howie Movshovitz, film critic for Colorado Public Radio and NPR.
"Although they have recorded soundtracks for a number of silent films currently available on video, I never had a chance to hear the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra until last week at Telluride, and I was enchanted with their 1920s sound. Part of the reason is their orchestration, comprised of violin, cello, piano, trumpet, and woodwind; the other factor is their use of music actually composed for silent films." -- Leonard Maltin, www.leonardmaltin.com
"It's already been proved that a 1920s silent film can still effectively entertain a modern audience, but watching the 1918 Pickford film Amarilly of Clothesline Alley effectively hold its own with a modern audience was an experience to remember in itself. With the audience sighing warmly and breaking into light-hearted laughter every sixty to ninety seconds, one could almost sense the cooing 'Our Mary' adoration of early-century filmgoers. The lush score of vintage photoplay music performed by Colorado's Mont Alto Orchestra won an enthusiastic standing ovation as did the similar score they performed for [Marion] Davies' lovely costume film Quality Street the night before." -- David Gasten, Classic Images, April 2002.
First up was People on Sunday, a marvelous restoration of a 1929 silent film shot in Berlin. The semi-documentary was a collaborative effort: directed by Robert Siodmak and Edgar G. Ulmar off a script written by Billy Wilder and Kurt and Robert Siodmak, and shot and lit by Eugene Shufftam and Fred Zinnemann -- can you say "wow!"? The film influenced both the Italian Neorealists and the Nouvelle Vague, and while I've heard about it, I'd never seen it before. The film, recently restored by the Netherlands Film Museum, was accompanied by a live score performed by the amazing Mont Alto Orchestra. This was a rare treat, and I was so glad I caught it at Telluride. -- Kim Voynar, cinematical.com
"Words cannot adequately describe the phenomenal sound of the Mont Alto Orchestra of Boulder, Colo. They have an amazing ability to adapt musical pieces of the early 1900s to fit the emotions and actions of each scene, as they provide the musical accompaniment of the silent films. Even though the trumpeter was not present this year, there was no noticeable difference in their rich, musical sound. The blended notes of the piano, violin, clarinet and cello were exquisite. The Mont Alto Orchestra participates also in Topeka's Silent Film Festival, held annually in February. It is getting bigger and better every year and worthy of consideration for a day of great entertainment." -- Jan Hummel, Letter to the editor of Topeka Capital Journal, 11/20/02
"One of the best examples of music's transformative power was provided by the adroit backing of Mary Pickford's Suds (1920) by the Mont Alto fivesome. For the Dickens-esque tale set in London, Rodney Sauer, Mont Alto's music director and pianist, compiled 31 separate musical cues culled from folios of specially written movie music published during 'the live music film' era.
"In its world premiere in Topeka, Sauer's score soared, adding a glow to Little Mary's smile here, italicizing a pratfall there, and, in general, subtly underscoring shifts of emotional and atmospheric tone, and providing continuity. Yes, Pickford's winsome performance is still a winner. But, given the standing ovation and hearty rounds of applause, it was clear that the audience had equal appreciation for the artistry of Mont Alto's five accomplished musicians." -- Chuck Berg, Topeka Capital Journal, March 18 2001
"When Kevin Brownlow was the [Iola Buster Keaton] Celebration's guest in 1999, he questioned why we were showing College (1927) -- which some critics consider to be one of Keaton's weaker efforts. After seeing College with Mont Alto's accompaniment and an appreciative audience, Mr. Brownlow could not believe what a different (and much better) film it was when seen in that setting. High praise for the Mont Alto Orchestra from a discerning critic, and proof that proper exhibition is vital for seeing a silent film at its best." -- Frank Scheide, "Ten Years of Silent Film Screenings."
"On very short notice, two members (piano and violin) of the Mont Alto Orchestra accompanied Keaton's The Cameraman and did a spectacular job. Their playing was expert in every way. They chose pieces from the period which resounded perfectly with the action and emotion of each scene, enhancing them wonderfully. And they performed this music gorgeously with a lyricism that added considerable depth to the impact of the film. In fact, although I have seen that film many many times, including an excellent "live" performance with Vince Giordano's Night Hawks, I must say that seeing it with the Mont Alto score made this the very best Cameraman I have ever encountered." -- Alice Artzt, guitarist and silent film music scholar
"I should also tell you that my personal welfare is dependent on Mont Alto's appearance again this year. At the Longmont Council for the Arts board meeting a week or so ago, people got a little hostile until I mentioned that you all would return!!" -- Gretchen Beall, July 30, 2002
"Rodney Sauer is one of the top musicians currently arranging and performing silent movie music. His scores are thoughtful and sensitive, his scholarship of silent film music is thorough, his lectures on the topic are enlightening, and his performances are exceptional." -- Frank M. Scheide, Ph.D., University of Arkansas
"I would say for me the biggest discovery of this year's Cinecon was Rodney and Mont Alto - they simply could not have been any better. I had the good fortune of being able to see them in action once again last night at The Rafael Theatre in San Rafael...the performance was extraordinary. Needless to say, they got another standing ovation at the conclusion of the performance." -- Rob McKay
"The big surprise was the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra We laughed, and we cried, in part in response to the perils of the luminous Mabel Normand, and in part because of the radiant music of the sublime Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra! At the end of the afternoon session, which this satisfied cineaste had the pleasure of listening to and viewing, it seemed that the period of movie history spanning 1896-1927, instead of being called "the silent era," might be more appropriately dubbed 'the live music film era.'" -- Chuck Berg, Topeka Captiol Journal, 3/9/99
"As the lights dimmed in the Bowlus Fine Arts Center, five black-clad musicians of the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra took up their instruments. On the screen, the credits appeared for the 1924 Buster Keaton comedy Sherlock Jr., and the audience settled down to treat the silent film with the respect accorded high art.
"The orchestra managed to make the music do the talking in Keaton's tale of a young man working in a movie house who dreams of becoming a detective....
"....The year before last, two members of the Mont Alto orchestra drove to Iola from their base in Boulder, Colo., and volunteered to play for one of the movies. They were such a hit that all five members were invited back with the help of a grant from the Kansas Arts Commission.
"For this year's Keaton Celebration, the Mont Alto musicians produced a score to match the pace and mood of Sherlock Jr., choosing from more than 5,000 pieces of music gathered from the silent film era. Now, says Ms. Martin, they are 'part of the family.' "
-- Shirley Christian, October 9 2000 New York Times article In a Little Kansas Town, a Feast for Buster Keaton Fans.
"We often forget that during the so-called 'silent' era, movies were almost always accompanied by live music. At Iola's Bowlus Arts Center, thanks to the superb Mont Alto Orchestra and Sauer's carefully quilted score fabricated from generic mood music cues from the 1920s, we were treated to a performance of Sherlock, Jr. at once authentic and emotionally moving."
-- Chuck Berg, Topeka Capital-Journal, October 26, 2000
"I want to express how much I enjoyed The Phantom of the The depth and sensitivity the music provided left me totally engrossed in the movie and the magic lasted all the way home. The presentation is definitely a 'see-again-in-a-heartbeat' and an experience not to be forgotten."
-- Jackie Dunn of Elbert Colorado, February 8, 1998