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The Ever-Expanding 2012 Festival Music Program

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Lyle Lovett at A Celebration of Music in Film during the 2010 Festival. Photo by Natalie Class.

Nate von Zumwalt, Editorial Coordinator

Somewhere between the mind-blowing performances by musical luminaries like Lou Reed and Lyle Lovett — and once prospective talents like St. Vincent and The Civil Wars — the Sundance Film Festival music program has transformed from musical diversion to main event. Put simply, audiences in 2012 will be treated to a multi-faceted Festival of not only sound and vision, but to true visionaries in the realm of sonic artistry and entertainment. 

And why not? Music is too often robbed of its due recognition for its pivotal role in the filmmaking process—shoved aside to make room for others under the spotlight. It’s a puzzling reality, considering the concussive impact a good score has on a film. Rest assured, music will have its day in the sun—or 10 days in the snow—at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

For the sake of clarity, it’s best to digest the Festival music programming in three doses:musicians who play casual sets at the Sundance ASCAP Music Café; the slate of film music events at Sundance House; and the composers behind some of the more notable composer scores in this year’s films.

Sundance ASCAP Music Café

Sundance Ascap Music Café presents daily live performances by emerging and established artists from across the musical spectrum. It’s a showcase that extends the scope of the Festival. This year’s lineup will be graced by the likes of David Gray, Ingrid Michaelson, Josh Kelley, and James McCartney, among others. Additionally, for the first time ever Sundance Music Café: Night Sessions will keep the tunes going into the night on select days at the Festival. One Night Sessions performance to mark in your calendar: Ronit Kirchman, Lili Haydn, and David Poe will play deep into the night on Monday, January 23. Sundance ASCAP Music Cafe is open to all Festival credential holders, and you can check www.ascap.com for daily updates.

A Celebration of Music in Film

Generally regarded as one of the most anticipated music events at the Festival each year, A Celebration of Music in Film features iconic musicians performing in an intimate setting. This year’s act features a trio of venerated rappers joining for an unprecedented collaborative performance.

“We are very luck to have Ice T, Chuck D, and Grandmaster Caz perform,” says Peter Golub, director of the Sundance Institute Film Music Program and the composer of Black Rock. “It will be an amazing intimate night of the three of them sitting around talking, rapping, discussing their process, but also performing. It’ll be a one of a kind thing.”

It’s a foray into a new “musical landscape,” as Golub describes it, and a far cry from recent performers like Lyle Lovett, Lou Reed, and Patti Smith. “We’ve had nothing like this before,” he admits. Dedicating the trademark music event to a more provocative and polarizing variety of iconoclast artists is quintessentially Sundance. For those who will not be joining us in Park City, A Celebration of Music in Film will be broadcast live at www.sundance.org/live January 21 at 10 p.m. EST.

Film in Music

Of course, the more traditional (and most accessible) method of enjoying music at the Festival exists on screen, in the films themselves. Some of this year’s noteworthy names include Cliff Martinez (Arbitrage), Philp Glass (Elena), T. Bone Burnett and The Civil Wars (Finding North), Moby (Escape Fire), and timeless indie rock favorites Yo La Tengo (Smashed).

The Festival is also an opportunity for a number of Sundance Institute Film Music Lab alumni to watch their creative efforts come to fruition. Four former Lab Fellows composed scores for films at the 2012 Festival, including Ryan Beveridge (Mosquit Y Mari), Terry Dame (My Best Day), Todd Griffin (California Solo), and Kathryn Bostic (Middle of Nowhere).

So whether you carve a spot in your schedule to show up for a live performance, a musically-driven film screening, or watch the LiveStreaming events from home — be sure to take a moment to absorb the auditory pleasures of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

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