The Deutsches Filmorchester, based in Potsdam and Berlin, enjoys a fine reputation in an unusually broad spectrum of musical styles. Along with its recording activities in its own studios - on the average, nearly one recording production for television or cinema each week - the orchestra collaborates regularly with choirs and solo artists in the Berlin area.
The Filmorchester is a favorite partner in concert for popular and classical artists such as Omara Portondo and the "Buena Vista Social Club", "Scorpions", or Jos╚ Carreras, for example. A popular "crossover" concert subscription series is presented at the Nikolaisaal in Potsdam, primarily in collaboration with jazz or pop artists prominent in Europe. In the past two years, concert projects with the "Mousse T."; "Motion Trio", "Joy Denalane", "Frank Popp Ensemble" and "Soulounge" were produced in this series. In this sense, the Filmorchester can be compared to "Pops" orchestras in America.
The picture at the left shows the larger of two of the recording studios in which the Filmorchester rehearses and records. This complex, located in the Sch÷neweide area of Berlin, was the home for GDR radio productions. The studio features several halls with extraordinary acoustics and the newest state-of-the-art technology.
Scott Lawton's first collaboration with the orchestra was in the summer of 1997 with a new open-air production of Offenbach's "Orpheus in the underworld" at the Schwedt Theater east of Berlin on the banks of the Oder river. In the following months, they worked together on a variety of projects such as recording a television film and preparing live performances of the Chaplin films "The Idle Class" and "The Kid". In 1999, he began working with the orchestra as principal conductor.
Since then, they have recorded dozens of film scores for television and cinema. In concert they have presented repertoire from the Baroque era to the premiere of a new orchestral works (for example, the premiere of Leon Buche's Second Symphony in the summer of 2003). On tour they have played in many important concert halls in Germany.
A recent concert in the Konzerthaus Dortmund entitled "From Babelsberg to Hollywood", was built around scores by German composers who helped form the Hollywood esthetic of the "Golden Era" (from around 1935 to 1960), followed with titles by contemporary film composers such as Williams, Zimmer and Mancini. This was paired with a comparable program shortly afterwards entitled "From Alexanderplatz to Broadway", with works by Weill, Loewe, Webber, Kern and Gershwin.
Both events featured premiere performances of works by Franz Waxman -- the overture to a "Cabaret Songbook" from his early years in Babelsberg and Paris, and the closing music to "Liliom", his first film score. Waxman was a Berlin native who assisted Friedrich Hollaender in orchestrating "The Blue Angel". He later became one of Hollywood's leading composers, famous for scores such as "Sunset Boulevard".