Hitchcock’s Psycho with live orchestra

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Even if you have never seen Psycho, you will know about ‘the shower scene’. And if you have seen Psycho, you probably don’t use a shower curtain anymore. Or stay at motels. One of Hitchcock’s most iconic films and a revolution of the cinematic horror genre, not only does Psycho feature innovative and ground-breaking cinematography, but it also has one of the most instantly recognisable soundtracks in film history. Hitchcock himself once said that, “33% of the effect of Psycho was due to the music”; none more so than in the terrifying shower scene with its shrieking string stabs that caused many to leave the auditorium when it was first released.

Janet Leigh as Marion CraneNow, for the first time since the movie’s release 49 years ago, the film will be screened to the accompaniment of a live 20-piece string orchestra. The screening, to be presented by Alex Zane at the historic Coronet Cinema in Notting Hill, will be held to celebrate Sky Movies Classics’ definitive Hitchcock Season running from the 25th to 31st May 2009, which includes HD premieres of many of the titles on Sky Anytime.

On the night, the score will be re-created live by the London Soundtrack Orchestra and conducted by acclaimed conductor and composer Ben Foster, who will be tasked with keeping 20 live string players in perfect sync with the film.

Foster said, “Hitchcock’s collaboration with Bernard Herrmann created some of the most gripping scores of all time; none more so than Psycho. The genius of Herrmann’s score is the combination of beautiful simplicity, deliberately paired-down orchestration and his skilled use of leitmotif. I’m very excited to be a part of what should be a fantastic evening.”

Incredibly, the legendary director originally envisaged a jazz soundtrack. However, composer Bernard Herrmann, also known for his moody soundtrack to Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, ignored this suggestion, scored it purely for strings to reflect the film’s deliberately monochromic feel – and Hitchcock was so pleased with the results that he doubled his pay.

Sky’s definitive Hitchcock Week includes 15 of his most iconic films including The Birds, Vertigo, Rear Window, Psycho, Frenzy, Lifeboat, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Marnie, Notorious, Shadow of a Doubt, Torn Curtain, Topaz, To Catch A Thief and Spellbound. They don’t make ’em like they used to.

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