The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

In celebration of internationally renowned Irishman and film director Rex Ingram who emigrated from Ireland to the United States in 1911, a rare screening of the 1921 American silent epic war film will take place in the spectacular gothic surroundings of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Featuring new score by internationally renowned composers Matthew Nolan and Barry Adamson (Magazine, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds), performed live with key collaborators on the project, musician and composer Seán Mac Erlaine, songwriter and composer Adrian Crowley, and Kevin Murphy from Slow Moving Clouds.

Based on the Spanish novel The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, it was adapted for the screen by June Mathis. The film stars Pomeroy Cannon, Josef Swickard, Bridgetta Clark, Rudolph Valentino, Wallace Beery, and Alice Terry.

Rex Ingram, best known as a strong-willed visionary was responsible for a succession of films for Metro Pictures that topped the box office and were hailed as masterpieces by the critics. He briefly studied sculpture at the Yale University School of Art after emigrating from Ireland to the United States in 1911; but he was soon seduced by the new medium of moving pictures and abandoned his studies for a series of jobs in the film industry. Over the next decade, he became one of the most popular directors in Hollywood, directing smash hits such as The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921), The Prisoner of Zenda (1922), and Scaramouche (1923).

As part of the new international programme of exchange, St. Patrick’s Festival will bring The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921): Screening & Live Score Performance to HOME, the contemporary arts centre in Manchester, on Sunday 18th March. This unique cine-concert event is supported by Culture Ireland as part of GB18: Promoting Irish Arts in Britain.

Solaris – 50th Anniversary Screening with Live Musical Accompaniment

New York Film Festival October 12th at 515pm Walter Reade Theatre (Lincoln Centre)

Possibly the most emotionally devastating science fiction film ever made, Solaris follows scientist Chris Kelvin (Donatas Banionis) as he is sent to a space station whose inhabitants have been attempting to make contact with the mysterious planet Solaris. Often described as a Soviet response to Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, Solaris is an enigmatic work of startling beauty and depth. To mark this seminal film’s 50th anniversary, our special screening features live musical accompaniment by Matthew Nolan and Stephen Shannon. Their newly created score, especially commissioned for the festival, is rooted in both Tarkovsky’s aesthetic and philosophical concerns and in the sonic architecture of Artemyev’s original soundtrack. This alternative score, with its mesmerizing waves of electronic sounds, brings the core concerns of the film into greater focus, its atmosphere of dread and longing offering a fascinating interpretation of the film’s cryptic emotions. A Janus Films release.

Supported by a commission award from the Arts Council of Ireland.

Special thanks to Culture Ireland.

Link to event –

Seas Between

Having premiered Pomes Penyeach – James Joyce set to song – in that very room at last year’s Saint Patrick’s Festival, composers / performers Matthew Nolan and Adrian Crowley returned to the resplendent environs of the Old Physics Theatre to present a glimpse at the unfolding of their latest collaboration: Seas Between.

Continuing on with their creative dialogue, the duo have embraced the invitation to explore and respond in a similar essence to a very contemporary and utterly timeless work from the literary canon. Seas Between sees the duo set off on a quest of tentative discovery through the careful exploration of their chosen episode.

Approaching the work with their continued balance of wonder and respect, the duo extended an invitation to the musically curious on March 20th: the door opened for members of the public to step inside throughout the day for a multi-sensory and provoking experience.

More invitations will follow in 2022.

More info here > 

Pomes Penyeach

St. Patrick’s Festival 2021 premieres an innovative musical event featuring the poetry of James Joyce, produced by Matthew Nolan and Adrian Crowley.

Join some of Ireland’s finest contemporary musicians on a journey to comprehend love and life from the map left by Joyce’s pen.

How does one start a tribute to the greatest wordsmith this island has ever known? The answer is obvious; stay true to the words. St Patrick’s Festival 2021 premiers an innovative evening of music and song at the Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI) featuring the poetry of James Joyce, produced by Matthew Nolan and Adrian Crowley in collaboration with Lisa Hannigan, Sean Mac Erlaine, Kevin Murphy and Cora Venus Lunny.

James Joyce’s second and last book of poetry, Pomes Penyeach, was published in 1927. A collection of 12 poems and a tilly – making it a baker’s dozen – the book sold for one shilling (12 pennies) or 12 francs, so the poems were a penny each. Pomes is also a pun on pommes (the French for apple) as Joyce wanted the cover of the book to be the colour of his favourite apple, the Calville.

Most of the poems date from between 1912 and 1924 apart from ‘Tilly’, a re-working of his poem ‘Cabra’ which was written around the time of his mother’s death in 1903 when the family were living in Cabra. Many of the poems can be traced to specific biographical moments, but Joyce is not so much writing poems about moments in his life as using those biographical moments as vehicles for poetic ideas or images.

The project is spearheaded by Dublin based composer, curator and academic Matthew Nolan, who discovered Joyce’s book thirty years ago and has been ‘trying to find a means of expressing that world ever since’.

He enlisted the help of multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and composer Adrian Crowley to decipher this elegiac collection and an ‘astonishing musical world began to unfurl’.

Join some of Ireland’s finest contemporary musicians on a journey to comprehend love and life from the map left by Joyce’s pen.

Featuring: Adrian Crowley (vocals, piano, acoustic guitar & mellotron), Lisa Hannigan (vocals), Matthew Nolan (electric guitar), Sean Mac Erlaine (reeds & electronics), Cora Venus Lunny (violin & viola) and Kevin Murphy (cello).

Filmed by Bob Gallagher

Commissioned by St. Patrick’s Festival
In partnership with Museum of Literature Ireland and Dublin Airport.


Date/time: March 12th, 2021 @ 8pm
Venue: SPF TV
More info:

People on Sunday / Menschen am Sonntag

One of the great modernist portrayals of urban working-class reality, Menschen am Sonntag was produced by a cooperative that included Edgar G. Ulmer, Billy Wilder, Robert and Curt Siodmak, Eugen Schüfftan, and Fred Zinnemann, as well as theorist Béla Bálasz, who provided the idea for the script. The story frames twenty-four hours in the lives of a few young Berliners — friends embarking on a Sunday outing. It is filmed with a breezy naturalism that was new to cinema at the time and is cast with nonprofessionals who (more or less) play themselves.

“The new score is based on a creative response to that which we don’t see. This compositional strategy allows us to echo internal psychological and narrative meanings behind and beyond the images. For us, there is a haunting duality to this vision of 1930s Berlin, and the new score reflects a sense of social or even political turbulence.” — Matthew Nolan and Rachel Grimes.

Matthew and Rachel performed their new score for “People On Sunday” at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC on July 31st 2016.

Rachel Grimes

Heralded “one of American independent music’s few truly inspired technicians” by WIRE magazine, Rachel Grimes is a pianist, composer, and arranger based in Kentucky. She has toured the US, Europe and Asia as a solo pianist, and she has collaborated and performed with many artists. Much more here >>

Upcoming Show

National Gallery of Ireland (Shaw Room)
Merrion Square, Dublin 2
September 26th, 6pm

Triskel Christchurch
Tobin Street, Cork
September 28th, 8pm

Häxan – Witchcraft through the Ages

Director: Benjamin Christensen
Screenplay: Benjamin Christensen
Cinematography: Johan Ankerstjerne

With live musical accompaniment by Matthew Nolan, Sean Mac Erlaine, Lisa Dowdall & Catherine Sikora Mingus, along with live narration by Eric Mingus and Matthew Causey (based on the 1968 version narrated by William S. Burroughs).

Häxan (pronounced “hek-sen”), was made in Sweden at the invitation of Svensk Filmindustri and released in 1922. It is one of those legendary films that many people have heard about but few have seen. It really should be better known. With vivid depictions of witch persecutions and medieval sorcery, frank physicality, and fluid and detailed mise-en-scène, Häxan surely has more chance of pleasing contemporary audiences than 95 percent of surviving silent films.

In bringing together witch-finding judges, convent misdeeds, and black magic, Häxan prefigures no less than three cinematic genres that would become popular – Michael Reeves’ 1968 Witchfinder General, Ken Russell’s ’s 1971 The Devils, and Terence Fisher’s 1968 The Devil Rides Out. Häxan also has ties to F. W. Murnau’s Faust and later films based on the Faust legend, to demonic-possession movies like William Friedkin’s The Exorcist (1973), and to the many movies in which the devil comes to Earth in human form.

Häxan endures because of Christensen’s tremendous skill with lighting, staging, and varying of shot scale. The word “painterly” comes to mind in watching Christensen’s ingeniously constructed shots, but it is inadequate to evoke the fascination the film exerts through its patterns of movement and its narrative disjunctions. Christensen is at once painter, historian, social critic, and a highly self- conscious filmmaker. His world comes alive as few attempts to recreate the past on film have.

Upcoming Show

Púca Festival 2019
Droichead Arts Centre, Drogheda
November 1st, 8pm

NYsferatu: Symphony of a Century

The Irish premiere of the stunning NYsferatu: Symphony of a Centurydirected by Andrea Mastrovito, an animated interpretation of the classic 1922 horror film Nosferatu with a live score specially commissioned for Bram Stoker Festival by Matthew Nolan. Set in present day New York City, NYsferatu: Symphony of a Century turns the original film on its head, positioning the vampire character as that most contemporary of “outsiders” – an emigrant escaping war at home only to face economic exploitation and xenophobia in their new country.

Rich with symbolism and political commentary, the film retells the story of the vampire through the lens of modern-day fears about Islam, immigration, and refugees. The rotoscoped film, comprised of 35,000 hand-drawn images, replicates the eerie, flickering shutter effect of early cinema and will be accompanied by a specially commissioned live score by internationally renowned composer Matthew Nolan (Ireland), with similarly celebrated international musicians Erik Friedlander (U.S.A), Seán MacErlaine (Ireland) and Jan Bang (Norway) at St. Anne’s Church, Dawson St, where Bram Stoker married Florence Balcombe in 1878.

The Arts Council of Ireland and Bram Stoker Festival supported the commissioning of a new score by Matthew Nolan for Andrea Mastrovito’s innovative feature film NYsferatu, which will premiere at Bram Stoker Festival 2018.


Night of the Living Dead

Night of the Living Dead has long been associated with the derogative term ‘splatter movie’. Directed by George A. Romero in 1968, it is so much more than that. Now regarded as a classic of the genre, it’s also credited with introducing gore and special effects into contemporary horror film. In horror, more than most film genres, music is central: to heighten tension, offer insight into characters, to set an unnerving tone. To celebrate the film’s 50th birthday, musicians and composers Matthew Nolan and Stephen Shannon have reimagined the score in a modern context, joined by Kevin Murphy (cello) and Catherine Sekora Mingus (saxophone, clarinet). This original soundtrack offers a new way to experience Romero’s classic, a hybrid of what visual and sound can achieve in cinematic horror. As a key work of independent, low-budget cinema, Night of the Living Dead combines several important cultural traditions, exploring race, class, consumerism and the impact of capitalism on the fabric of American life.

The film’s success took its creators by surprise; so much so that poor distribution deals resulted in little return for its investors. This now-classic low-budget movie was made over weekends by a group of enthusiasts who had could not have foreseen that it would one day become a cult landmark on the landscape of contemporary horror film. Visually, it’s raw and unpolished, an antidote to the gloss long associated with Hollywood’s studios. Most strikingly, Romero choose to shoot in black-and-white, creating an omininous monochrome and underpinning the issues of race in the film. Long before the emergence of the ‘blaxploitation’ genre, Night of the Living Dead placed a black character in a lead role, which Romero maintained was a coincidence.

Romero’s first feature has transcended its place within the horror genre as the original modern zombie film. Night of the Living Dead interrogates a dysfunctional and deeply disturbed society. It explicitly argued that old American values were now harmful and obsolete, leading to a chaos few would survive unless drastic political and social change would follow. The warning was clear: prepare for dangerous consequences because of destructive patterns of behaviour, both social and personal. Within today’s contemporary culture where issues of race, violence and capitalism still rage, Night of the Living Dead feels just as contemporary, and this reimagined score offers the chance to experience the film in the here and now.


*Night of the Living Dead was first screened at the Fulton Theatre in Pittsburgh on October 1st, 1968.

Stories from the Half Light

Boston guitarist/composer and Dublin guitarist/composer present a selection of work by the experimental filmmaker Peter Hutton (1944-2016). Over a period of 50 years Hutton made a series of short silent films, often in black and white, and primarily of landscapes and cities. He likened the films to paintings, and described watching them as ‘a little like daydreaming’. His concerns about information overload even in the 1970’s were uniquely prescient. Brokaw and Nolan seek to explore the questions raised by these films about how we take in information. The presentation will alternate movies in their original/silent state with ones featuring new live scores for electric guitar and electronics.




“I wanted to create a waking dream on screen and show that horror is not to be found in the things around us but in our own subconscious,” said Danish film-maker Carl Theodor Dreyer, whose adaptation of two stories from Sheridan Le Fanu (Carmilla and The Room in the Dragon Volant) was initially conceived as a silent movie. Sound was added during production, but the film’s trance-like images could stand on their own as a visual poem in which the action seems to take place on the cusp of dreams and reality.

Apart from German actress Sybille Schmitz, who plays the vampire’s chief victim, and French actor Maurice Schutz, who plays her father, the cast was non-professional. Baron Nicolas de Gunzberg, who provided finance for the film, also took the leading role under the pseudonym Julian West. He plays a roving occult investigator called Allan Grey (David in some versions) who arrives at an old inn by the side of a river and explores a nearby castle where an evil doctor appears to be helping a vampire prey on the lord’s two daughters – one of whom is bedridden, suffering from a strange sickness, while the other is being held captive. Grey reads a book on vampirism and acts as our surrogate in this curious realm of crooked staircases, off-kilter corridors and Freudian keys and doors, a world where men’s shadows take on a life of their own and skeletal hands grasp bottles of poison.

Dreyer shrugs off conventional linear narrative and takes an experimental approach, plunging us into a waking nightmare that isn’t so much black-and-white as it is misty grey. When cinematographer Rudolph Maté (who would later direct films such as the noir thriller DOA) showed Dreyer some frames made hazy by accidental exposure to light, the director had him place a layer of gauze in front of the lens to replicate the effect for the rest of the film.

Many of the images from this movie have passed into horror iconography: an old man standing by the river tolling a bell with a scythe over his shoulder; Grey’s dream of being buried alive; the evil doctor suffocating in flour dropped from the mill above. It’s hard to spot where nightmares end and reality begins. This really is a film that exemplifies the idea of dreaming with our eyes open.

Supported by the Goethe-Institut Ireland