Electronic Press Kit

'One of the faves though would have to be the live performance by Viola Dana to Buster Keaton's The General. Standing ovation and all, their work was nothing short of brilliant...it brought the house down.' 

(Revelation Perth International Film Festival, 2009)


Welcome to Viola Dana's Electronic Press/Media Kit.  
 
Viola Dana can be contacted through Kathy Potter, a member of the band, at mail@kathyplaysviola.com or on
+61 405 106 171.

 
About Viola Dana

Viola Dana is the name of an ensemble of musicians based in Perth, Western Australia, who create and perform soundtracks for silent films. The result is a dynamic and unique hybrid arts experience, illuminating masterworks of the silent film era for a contemporary audience. Viola Dana’s sound can best be described as a mixture of folk, jazz and contemporary classical music rendered in warm, rich sonic hues of cello, guitar, banjo (on occasion), drums, tuned percussion and, of course, viola, the violin’s deeper-voiced older sister.

Viola Dana was invited to premiere Kathy Potter’s soundtrack for the feature-length silent film The General at the 2009 Revelation Perth International Film Festival and was subsequently invited to be a part of several more performances throughout Western Australia as part of the Revelation International Film Festival’s inaugural ‘Rev on the Road’ festival in 2012.

In April 2013, Viola Dana embarked on a six-show tour of North America which saw them perform as part of the Toronto Silent Film Festival, at the Mayfair Theatre in Ottawa and the Museum of the Moving Image in New York City amongst other venues to acclaim.  

Viola Dana has gone on to present soundtrack performances for a small number of silent films as part of the Fringe World Festival (winning the Film and Multimedia Award in 2015), Summerset Arts Festival, Fremantle Festival and for Telethon Community Cinemas. In 2017, Viola Dana was invited to present their soundtrack for Sherlock, Jr in a band-plus-orchestra incarnation together with the Albany Sinfonia, and was invited back to perform this again with the Sinfonia in 2019.

Viola Dana has scored the following films:

The General (1926, silent black & white, 77 mins, rated G, comedy). Soundtrack by Kathy Potter

Sherlock, Jr (1924, silent black & white, 45 mins, rated G, comedy). Soundtrack by Kathy Potter 

The High Sign (1921, silent black & white, 21 mins, rated G, comedy). Soundtrack by Pete Guazzelli

Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (1922, silent tinted black & white, 93 mins, rated PG, horror). Soundtrack by Pete Guazzelli and Kathy Potter

Viola Dana are:

Jozef Grech: guitar and banjo

Pete Guazzelli: drums and percussion

Tristen Parr: 'cello

Kathy Potter: viola

[founding guitarist Mace Francis played with Viola Dana from 2009-2013]


Reviews

From the article: Nightmares & Wonders: The Necessity of Revelation: The 12th Revelation Perth International Film Festival in Senses of Cinema, issue 52.

by Damien Spiccia

'This year featured two events featuring alternate silent film compositions; the first, for The General (Buster Keaton, 1926), was composed by Kathy Corecig and performed by local musicians Viola Dana. The gorgeous new transfer flickered onscreen and soon after, Viola Dana’s driving mix of bluegrass and country folk transported the audience to The General’s civil war setting, always complementing – but never attempting to overbear – Keaton’s remarkable physical storytelling. A large number of children were present at the session, drawn into the film by the busy, rich score provided by the chamber ensemble. The film’s title character, the locomotive, provided a reoccurring musical motif that packed momentum until the film’s final frames. Viola Dana’s members remained humble during the rousing standing ovation, and as the end titles rolled, they each extended an arm toward the giant screen in acknowledgement of their conductor, Buster himself.'



by David Fiore, Sound on Sight

Of course, the second item on the evening’s double bill is the one that everyone came to see, and judging by the standing ovation received by Australian quartet Viola Dana after the final credits rolled, no one went home disappointed by the band’s rousing performance, which only increased the kinetic appeal of the dynamic images barrelling across the screen. In its North American premiere, this viola-drum-banjo-cello score beautifully captured so many of the disparate elements that make The General one of the most celebrated films of the 1920s. The musical players worked together brilliantly to convey the unstoppable energy of well-stoked locomotives rumbling back and forth across the Civil War-ravaged land, in a hilarious, high-stakes game of occasionally inept, but always enthusiastic, spy-vs-spy. Viola Dana also captured the pathos that lies beneath the practically non-stop action, using folk melodies of the mid-19th century to peer into the heart and mind of Keaton’s heartsick but dedicated engineer.' 


From the article: Quartet gets fangs into Nosferatu

by Shannon Harvey, The West Australian

4 stars

'Rather than an acoustic performance, which would have been the norm in the silent era, this surprisingly amplified set really got pumping during the neck-nipping crescendos and heroic triumphs. At times, you could almost head bang to it.

In between, Viola Dana matched the style, pace and atmospherics of the film, from the slow, drawing squeals of Corecig’s strings, to the dark, menacing bass notes of Parr’s excellent cello work. Together, as the bloodsucking Count Orlok stared into the screen with his beady eyes, their warbling vibratos sent shivers down the spine. Perhaps Max Schrek’s performance — which has all the life of the undead — had something to do with it too.'

'...Overall, this was a thoroughly enjoyable blend of new and old, where eclectic arrangements added to the silent classic’s captivating allure.'


Recordings from Kathy Potter's soundtrack for The General



















Photos

More images are available on request by emailing Kathy Potter at mail@kathyplaysviola.com. Please credit images with the appropriate photographer/citation.

Photos of Viola Dana by Nik Babic Photography. 
Please include a caption of: 'The General images courtesy of Chapel Distribution' for the images that feature the projection of the film.


High resolution images:


L-R: Pete Guazzelli, Kathy Potter, Jozef Grech and Tristen Parr






Low resolution images:


L-R: Pete Guazzelli, Kathy Potter, Jozef Grech and Tristen Parr