Observations: Silents are golden

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The Independent Culture

If you happen to be passing through Trafalgar Square at around 6:30pm tonight, expect a dose of the silent treatment, courtesy of Film London and one of the finest exponents of silent-film accompaniment, the composer and pianist Neil Brand. Part of the London Film Festival, London Loves is a free outdoor screening of rare documentary treasures, including footage of the capital taken more than a century ago.

Brand, who will perform an improvised live accompaniment to the silent films along with a small band, comes to London fresh from the Bologna Film Festival, where he scored the silent version of Alfred Hitchcock's Blackmail for a 60-piece orchestra. His performance received a 10-minute standing ovation in the city's Piazza Maggiore, and there are plans for a London premiere next year to coincide with the 110th anniversary of Hitchcock's birth and 80th anniversary of the film. Next year sees Brand back on tour with Paul Merton, with whom he collaborated for BBC4's Silent Clowns.

For now, Brand's looking forward to this weekend's improv. "Being in one of the most iconic places in London, surrounded by traffic but playing music which is louder, is something very magical," he says.