About the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra

Mont Alto portrait

Click here for high-resolution publicity photo with a pretty backdrop of Boulder's Green Mountain.

And here for a more tightly cropped photo.

The Mont Alto Orchestra is a five piece chamber ensemble that revives the repertoire of silent film orchestras. Using historic libraries of music, and selecting pieces for each scene in the film, Mont Alto creates vibrant, emotional, and historically appropriate musical settings.

“The results are often breathtakingly beautiful and always in the strict service of the film on the screen.” (The New York Times.)

Mont Alto was formed in Colorado in 1989, and has scored over 125 silent films using historic orchestrations, recording over 40 film scores for releases on DVD, Blu-Ray, and screened on Turner Classic Movies. The Mont Alto Orchestra are regulars at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, the Telluride Film Festival, the TCM Classic Films Festival, the Denver Silent Film Festival, Chautauqua Auditorium film series, and the Kansas Silent Film Festival.

They have toured around the country from Films at Lincoln Center in New York to Grauman's Egyptian Theater in Hollywood.

Mont Alto collects original compositions and orchestrations from the turn of the century through 1930 for its tea dance series, silent film presentations, and concerts. Rodney Sauer also presents concert-lectures on photoplay music history and practice.

Contact Mont Alto:
Rodney Sauer
The Mont Alto Orchestra
401 Spruce Street
Louisville, CO 80027-1943

E-mail: rodney@mont-alto.com

The orchestra was formed as "The Mont Alto Ragtime and Tango Orchestra" in 1989 to play dance and salon music of the teens. The Motion Picture Orchestra, a subset of the larger group, started scoring silent films in 1994, after discovering the music collection of Al Layton, a theater music director in Colorado in the 1920s. The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra accompanies silent films in authentic period style, using original photoplay music. Tight ensemble playing and appropriate music selection bring the films to life.

The large sound of Mont Alto belies its small, portable size. The Motion Picture Orchestra is a quintet of piano, violin, cello, clarinet, and cornet. The Ragtime and Tango Orchestra adds vocalist Susan Rogers and drummer Chris Kermiet.

Mont Alto has performed film scores at venues ranging from elementary schools to the Denver International Film Festival, and has appeared as "guest artist" with the Longmont Symphony Orchestra. Mont Alto has presented film scores at the Lincoln Center in New York, the Telluride Film Festival, the Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, the Rafael Theater in San Rafael California, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Topeka Kansas Silent Film Festival, the Chautauqua Silent Film Festival in Boulder Colorado, and at the Buster Keaton Festival in Iola Kansas. Their work has been covered on the radio and in newspapers ranging from the Iola Register to the San Francisco Chronicle (see our Reviews page).

Mont Alto's library includes over six thousand orchestrations photocopied from the surviving collections of six silent film theater music directors and theater chains.

Mont Alto records scores for VHS and DVD releases of silent films in collaboration with Flicker Alley, Film Preservation Associates, Lobster Films, Kino-Lorber, the Criterion Collection, the Cohen Collection, Timeline Films, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, and Milestone Video. These have been very well received, and are considered some of the finest modern recorded silent film scores.