The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 20, 2005

A Halloween Treat: WiZARDS! Plays With Silent Horror Film 'The Golem'

"The Golem," considered one the classic silent horror films, will be presented with live music by WiZARDS! A Double Reed Consort and conductor William LaRue Jones at 8 and 11 p.m. on Halloween -- Monday, Oct. 31 -- in the Englert Theatre in downtown Iowa City.

WiZARDS! was founded by oboist Mark Weiger, who teaches on the faculty of the University of Iowa School of Music. Touted as the "world series of double reed playing", WiZARDS! features Weiger with Andrea Gullickson, Blake Duncan and Greg Morton.

Jones is director of the orchestral studies at the School of Music and conductor of the University of Iowa Symphony.

"The Golem" was filmed in Germany in 1920 with director Paul Wegener in the title role. The film tells the archetypal story of a clay statue that is brought to life to save the Jewish ghetto of Prague. The golem turns out to be an immoral monster that soon turns against its master, nearly destroying him in the process.

Critic Michael Koenig, writing for, describes "The Golem" as "a film of great power, as hypnotic as a German Expressionist vision of life as a waking dream."

When the film was restored in 2000, the composer on the project, Phil Freinhofner, read reviews from the 1920 and '30s that mentioned oboes in the sound score. He decided to score the film entirely for double reeds, and the WiZARDS! ensemble was approached about playing.

The restored film and score were presented in San Francisco in 2000, with Weiger playing along with local musicians. In the meantime, Weiger decided that the Englert would be the ideal place for "The Golem" to be shown -- "a newly restored and historically significant silent film at a newly restored and historically significant theater," he said.

"WiZARDS! suggested doing this on Halloween," Weiger explained. "Because the Englert is the perfect theater for such a production -- first presented 1920 on a big screen with live music c-- we wanted to bring it to Iowa City. And since 'Golem' is a kind of a cult film, we thought a midnight showing on Halloween might introduce a different slice of the campus crowds to all that the Englert has to offer."

The Halloween performances at the Englert will be the first by the full WiZARDS! ensemble before they take the film to other venues around the country.

Koenig's article on "The Golem" provides some fascinating background on the film and its connection to American culture. "The dim light and looming shadow were photographed by Karl Freund, who also shot two German Expressionist masterpieces: Fritz Lang's 'Metropolis' and F.W. Murnau's 'The Last Laugh'," he wrote. "Freund later emigrated to America and eventually became the head cameraman for 'I Love Lucy'.

"It is easy to see parallels between 'The Golem' and later horror films. For instance, the scene of the Golem playing with a group of children in a combination of innocence and malevolence would find a parallel in 'Frankenstein.' It is difficult to say how much of a direct influence the film had, but certainly within the next few years, many of the leading figures of German cinema would end up working in the United States."

Read the full article at

WiZARDS! is a double-reed quartet featuring the oboe, bassoon, English horn, oboe d'amore, contra bassoon and piccolo oboe. Based on the experience gained from five years of nearly 30 concerts each year, tours through 15 states, gathering the world's largest library of double reed music and preparation for a compact disk recording, Weiger formed the quartet as a professional chamber group that could travel easily. The best of the available double reed music is selected and, when necessary, arranged for the quartet.

WiZARDS! has been featured as the chamber group in residence for the education component of the Great Music West Festival in Utah and Idaho and has maintained residencies in Wisconsin and Wyoming since 1995. Reviewers have called their concerts "a dazzling performance" and "an outstanding musical adventure for all." Another critic commented, "the audience was spellbound by their uniqueness and quality." The group has three CDs out on the CRS and Crystal labels.

Since coming to Iowa in 1988 Weiger has performed as a soloist throughout the United States, Canada, England, Mexico, Austria, France and Italy, presented two recitals in Carnegie Hall in New York, been a finalist in nine international competitions, won First Prize in the Queens Philharmonic Concerto Competition (NY), performed double concertos with the Chicago Symphony's former principal oboist, Ray Still, and presented solo recitals with many other notable oboists.

As the first oboist to serve as an Artistic Ambassador through the U.S. Information Agency, Weiger performed recitals in Nepal, Pakistan, Israel, Jordan and Sri Lanka. The Tel Aviv News commented: "The quality of collaborative artists in the US Artistic Ambassador program is now unparalleled. On balance, [they] were perhaps the most successful Artistic Ambassadors USIS has ever programmed."

A UI music alumnus, Jones joined the faculty of the School of Music in 1997 as director of the University Symphony and director of orchestral studies. Prior to joining the UI faculty, Jones was the founding music director/administrator of the internationally recognized Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn.

Jones has appeared as a guest conductor with a wide array of professional, festival, collegiate and student ensembles throughout North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia, ranging from the Minnesota Orchestra and the Minneapolis Pops to the Penang (Malaysia) Symphony, the Antofagasta (Chili) Symphony and the Symphony Orchestra of Lucerne (Switzerland). Jones has conducted more than 70 all-state orchestras with additional festival/clinics in most of the 50 states and Canadian provinces.

Concerts at the Englert Theatre are made possible by an agreement between the UI Division of Performing Arts and the Englert Theatre, Inc. The series of 11 performances, from both the School of Music and the Dance Department, continues through the 2005-06 academic year.

Admission to "Golem" will be $10 for adults, $5 for seniors, UI students and youth. Tickets are available from the Englert Box Office, 221 E. Washington in downtown Iowa City. The box office is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday-Friday. For additional ticket information, call the box office at 319-688-2653.

The mission of the Englert Civic Theatre, Inc., is to own, maintain and operate the Englert Theatre as a community arts center and performance space, enhancing the vitality of Iowa City's historic downtown by preserving its last historic theater.

The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For information on UI arts events, visit on the World Wide Web. You may visit the UI School of Music web site at To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Peter Alexander, 319-384-0072,

PHOTOS are available at