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Frozen River Film Festival to debut first original film on Sunday

November 11, 2017 GMT

Frozen River Film Festival will debut its first film production as an organization, “Lark Ascending,” at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Page Theater on the Saint Mary’s University campus.

The film is 15 minutes and captures the beauty and landscape of some of the Winona area’s most notable landmarks.

“The Lark Ascending” has historical significance. English poet George Merideth wrote a 122-line poem with the title inspired by the Eurasian skylark, a small bird species found across Europe and Asia. The poem inspired English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams to write a piece in the same name.

“He wrote it to celebrate the beauty of his homeland,” said Isaac Sammis, who produced the project along with Andrew Thoreson. “That’s the through line between (FRFF’s production and Williams’ composition).”

Sammis and Thoreson collaborated on the project over the summer. Sammis said after he saw the London Philharmonic Orchestra perform the score live while showing BBC’s “Blue Planet,” he was inspired to do something similar here in Winona.

“I kinda put it on the backburners for a while ... it was just an idea,” he said. “But then we got a grant from SEMAC and the Carl and Verna Schmidt Foundation to fund the project so we could make it a reality.”

Sammis described the production as a 14-minute music video for the song composed by Williams, and the score will be performed live with the film premiere on Sunday followed by a Q&A session.

The film was all shot with a drone to imitate the flight path of the bird that inspired the “The Lark Ascending” poem.

Sammis and the FRFF organization are excited for the premier of the film because it’s not often people have the opportunity to hear a score performed live in conjunction with a film.

“It’s pretty unique in that aspect,” Sammis said. “That and the whole production was created by Minnesota artists.”

Combining a film with classical music brings the style of music into a new context by paring it with visuals, making it feel as if the viewer is flying through the air like a bird.

The score was originally composed for a violin and a piano, but was later re-scored for a solo violin and orchestra and is now considered one of the most memorable pieces of classical music by British listeners.

“I just thought it’d be cool to highlight the beauty of our own homeland with the video,” Sammis said. “I’m pretty excited.”

Tickets for the premier of “The Lark Ascending” are $12 and can be purchased from the FRFF’s website www.frff.org.