By Kathryn Taleporos and Rachel Wolk | November 6, 2023
UAlbany’s Page Hall
Photo Credit: Kathryn Taleporos / The ASP
The legend of Sleepy Hollow, the headless horseman, and old haunted houses have all come to the forefront this Halloween season. Created by the Musicians of Ma'alwyck, the short film “The Hollow” centers around the legend of Sleepy Hollow and the aria “Nina.” “The Hollow” premiered at the University at Albany’s downtown campus on Oct. 29 and showcased the talents of both the Capital Region and “Stranger Things” actor Gabriella Pizzolo.
The premier was part of Discover Albany’s All-Hallow E’en Festival. The city of Albany puts on the festival and highlights Halloween events around the Capital Region. This festival is a revival of the event that occurred in Albany 100 years ago.
The film was put on by the Musicians of Ma’alwyck, a group of musicians based in Scotia, New York.
Anne-Marie Barker Schwartz, the director of “The Hollow” and the Musicians of Ma’alwyck, was very proud of the production of the film. The film not only focused on the legend of Sleepy Hollow, but Schwartz took great pride in explaining how the film connects to the aria “Nina.”
“The film as a whole is about the opera Nina and we felt Gabby [Gabriella Pizzolo] could sing an aria for the movie,” said Schwartz.
“The Nina aria worked perfectly and the music from the film is selected from the 1700s and 1800s. The music in the film is also borrowed from the 1762 production called The Witches. The Hollow’s score is all original 1700s music which made it work for the production,” Schwartz said.
The short film begins in modern times, with the main character played by Pizzolo performing the opera at a historical society event. During her performance something happens, and Pizzolo sees the headless horseman and reacts in an operatic way.
“The main character doesn’t know if she imagined it, starts singing [the] aria because she’s terrified and it transforms her into current day time,” Schwartz said.
Colin Havener, a star from “The Hollow,” shared his experience and favorite moments of being a part of the short film, saying, “The site was great and I enjoyed working with the cast members. My character, Ian, known as Ichabod, ate 50-100 grapes while shooting those scenes.”
The short film premiered at UAlbany’s Page Hall. As part of the premier, the Musicians of Ma’awlyck, as well as Pizzollo, performed some of the music from the film live.
Musicians of the Ma'alwyck Program
Photo Credit: Kathryn Taleporos/ ASP
The music perfectly set the mood for the film premiere, it introduced the audience to the style of music that was the focus of “The Hollow.” Musicians performed instrumental music, and Pizzollo sang from the opera, “The Nina.”
“The Hollow” was a mystical, transcendental experience like no other. The theater was filled with sounds of violins, cellos, flutes, and opera singing. The musicians of Ma’alwyck performed in such a pristine, sophisticated manner. As the performance went on, there was automatically a feeling like being transported to a hollow with witchery and all kinds of magic. The music performed was breathtaking, Pizzolo’s voice and the spooky undertones of the violin and piano created a perfect Halloween ambience that was engaging for the audience to watch.
Additionally, Havener, who also starred in the film, recited a poem. Havener presented the poem as the musicians in the background performed a piece that created a darker and deeper tone to the poem.
The concert experience was a spooky, ethereal experience. The music and the film worked to create Halloween magic.
If you missed the premier, there is still an opportunity to watch the film, you can stream “The Hollow” on the Musicians of Ma'alwyck Youtube channel.