The Snark Ensemble.
- “Sitting in the audience, you are positively immersed in this old-timey and enchanting world of Dixieland jazz and bootleg gin, of broad pratfalls and vaudevillian slapstick comedy. This immersion is the wonderful thing about the show: after only a few minutes of admiring the quality of the music and snickering at the antics in the films, you’ll find that the two combine together seamlessly to make something greater than the component parts… To me, their music – its composition and its execution – is magnificent. It is by turns lyrical and exhilarating, and when paired with the hijinks onscreen, the 6-piece ensemble suits the note to the action, as it were, flawlessly.
— David Winkler, DC Theater Scene
- “The six-member group sounds like a New Orleans jazz combo out on a lark; the melodies slide and lumber during melodramatic moments and zing merrily when accompanying visual shtick.”
— Nelson Pressley, The Washington Post
- “The music on this disc is wonderfully performed… BECOMING CHARLEY CHASE is certainly among the most important historical collections of comedy films to be released on DVD. It is most highly recommended to anyone with an interest in motion picture comedy’s fascinating history.”
— James L. Neibaur, Rogue Cinema
- “Even the Chase aficionado who has all or most of these 40-odd comedy shorts in 8mm, 16mm, Laserdisc or VHS will find the box hard to resist. There are new scores for all titles, with some highly entertaining and imaginative work by the Snark Ensemble…”
— Jordan Young, LA/OC Theatre Examiner
- “There is no way to praise this collection too highly. Becoming Charley Chase is everything the DVD format should be — introducing rare films, burnishing the reputation of a forgotten performer, and, most importantly, making people aware that films made around 90 years ago can still be as vital and current and funny as anything coming out of the Judd Apatow comedy mill.”
— Paul Brenner, AMC Film Critic
The Snark Ensemble is an instrumental group dedicated to the creation and live performance of new music to silent film. The ensemble joyfully celebrates the zany, clever, and brilliant world of vintage silent comedies in its specially-crafted film scores. Built around a core of three composer-performers (Andrew Earle Simpson, keyboards; Maurice Saylor, woodwinds; and Phil Carluzzo, percussion and frets), the Snark Ensemble creates and performs scores which respond to and amplify the events taking place on screen. To the composers of the Snark Ensemble, each film suggests a unique sound world. To this end, the multi-instrumental talents of the ensemble’s composers and guest performers allow them to draw on an astonishing range of instruments and stylistic diversity. The ensemble also creates and performs concert versions of their film scores and has supplied music for dance and incidental music for theater.
Since its founding in 2005, the members of the Snark Ensemble have composed and premiered more than thirty silent film scores for DVD release and live performance. They recently recorded three of their scores for a forthcoming audio release on Naxos Records. Snark Ensemble scores are available on two DVD sets on the Allday Entertainment label: Lost and Found: the Harry Langdon Collection and the newly-released Becoming Charley Chase.
You can see clips from the films and hear the complete scores on our Sounds & Sites page.
The ensemble is named after Lewis Carroll’s epic nonsense poem The Hunting of the Snark: an Agony in Eight Fits.
Upcoming Performance Schedule
See and hear the Snark Ensemble at the Kennedy Center
The Snark Ensemble with Ben Redwine & Dale Barton – our most frequent guest soloists.
(Left to right: Andrew Simpson, Phil Carluzzo, Ben Redwine, Maurice Saylor, and Dale Barton)
Snark Site Visits