Interview: The Royal Concert Hall Goes Psycho for Halloween

Words: Ian C Douglas
Wednesday 11 October 2023
reading time: min, words

The Psycho soundtrack is coming to Nottingham. But this is more than your everyday kind of concert. Clelia McElroy from Monstrous Flesh, Emma Duncan from The Fortune & Glory Film Club and Paul Murphy from the Limelight Orchestra share their journey from horror movie to the podium... 

Psycho Hero Image

So, Psycho at the Concert Hall? What’s it all about?

Paul: Limelight loves performing great music and we are really interested in working among other art forms. Performing the music to Psycho live while it is shown on a big screen is an exciting experience for our musicians and we think the audience. Bernard Herrmann’s music really stretches the imagination and to perform it onstage we hope will bring an added sense of immersion to the audience.


And how are rehearsals coming along?

Paul: Very well, we met a couple of weeks ago with section leaders, to find out exactly how challenging the music is to play. We weren’t surprised to find that the music lives up to it’s reputation of requiring high levels of skill and concentration to pull it off. I’m confident our team will nail it. This music has the added challenge for me as conductor to make sure I am in sync with the movie and having constant eyes on the score, musicians and screen.


What is it about the movie that that attracts you? 

Paul: Musically, Herrmann was groundbreaking in his day often using soundscapes rather than “big tunes” to invoke emotion in films. His influence on other composers continues to this day with the likes of John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Danny Ellfman and many others.

Emma: Psycho is Horror 101. It has such an its enduring influence on the genre. The innovative techniques, the suspense, the themes of motherhood and female agency…! It is timeless and really is one of those “must see” films.


As stakeholders in the project, what does your role involve?

Paul: I suppose I’m the one responsible for making it happen. After approaching IMG Artists, I was permitted the hire the performance rights. In keeping with our ideology at Limelight, “not being an orchestra that just plays the music of…” I reached out to like minded people with interest in movies. We all thought it would be great to widen the experience for the audience. So we’re holding a pre-show session which is free to ticket holders. I’m going to share an insight to some of the music techniques in the score demonstrated by my Anna, Principal Violin and Rachael, Principal Cello.

Emma: I feel very fortunate to have been invited to collaborate on this event, and love working with other local creatives. I always aim to create a unique and special experience, bringing people closer to the films they love.


Who exactly are the Limelight Orchestra? 

Paul: I was asked to fix an orchestra for an event at the Theatre Royal called Nottingham Rocks. Local young musicians given the opportunity to perform their music with an orchestra. This was great fun and spurred me on to set up the orchestra, focussing ourselves on modern music. The orchestra’s USP includes having its own front line of singers where most of our performances are interpretations of vocal music. We’re very much into immersion and experience for the audience, this idea of not being an orchestra simply playing the music of…entertainment has many dynamics. We orchestrate most of the music ourselves including a space themed show “Interstellar” which we performed first in 2019 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing. We performed that again last year in Lincoln Cathedral under Like Jerram’s Museum Of The Moon. Our summer seasons are taken up with lots of festivals with our music from Classic House & Trance giving out the Ibiza vibes.

the risks are high

Paul Murphy

You’re working with local film societies on a fringe event before the show. What will this involve?

Emma: We will be hosting a pre-show session entitled The Scare in the Score, to dig a bit deeper into how the music of horror cinema is so central to the experience. We will talk about our favourite horror scores, and the art of building tension, suspense, and dread with music, heightening and amplifying the drama on the screen.

We’ll be slicing deeper into the Psycho score by Bernard Herrmann, exploring his masterful work on this iconic soundtrack. Joined by members of the Limelight Orchestra, there will be live and up-close demonstrations of the techniques the musicians use to such shocking effect. The session will be held before the main event in the Concert Hall foyer, and all ticket-holders are invited to join us as a pre-show warm up to really build the anticipation of this Halloween treat.

Paul: When you buy your tickets you’ll also be invited to sign up for the pre-show session for free.


The Fortune & Glory Film Club is one of those film societies. Is it more than popcorn and blockbusters?

Emma: The name is my tribute to my cinematic hero as a child – Indiana Jones! And like Indy, a Fortune & Glory film club screening comes with a bit of adventure. I create immersive events around classic and cult films. Everyone receives a handmade goody bag of items to eat/use/throw/etc. throughout the film, we call out favourite lines, have interval activities and games, costumes, prizes… I like to create space where people can leave the real world behind for a few hours and just enjoy themselves. All Fortune & Glory events are captioned, accessible, and queer.


And Monstrous Flesh, another of the film groups involved?

Clelia. Monstrous Flesh was founded in 2021 by Clelia McElroy. It is a multi-disciplinary arts and community venture focusing on the representation of women in the horror genre. They explore this theme through curated film courses, screenings, panel discussions, articles and a podcast.


Are there any other activities linked to the concert? 

Paul: We have been working with TRCH and have now devised a schools package as Psycho is on the A level music syllabus and will also be of interest to students in creative arts, film, photography and English. We’ve reached out to as many schools and colleges as possible to tell them of this amazing experience.


Was it easy to put this event together or were there roadblocks along the way? 

Paul: The main challenge is the high production cost of putting a show like this on. With licences, a forty-piece professional orchestra, cinematography technical experts and venue hire, the risks are high. I’ve made sure to focus on value and people will appreciate the experience will be worth it. In this current cost of living crisis, we hope people can find their affordability point. We’re not a big enterprise and our future is often dependant on the success of one project.


Limelight Image Orig

Is there anything that characterises a Hermann film score?

Paul: Herrmann is reported to have said, “I’m not interested in what you’re seeing, but telling you what you should be thinking. I’m going to tell you that something terrible is going to happen” (Source: Norma Herrmann). Psycho uses musical elements creating suspense and surprise. He use of harmony is often atonal; it has no central fix of key (major/minor). Many of Herrmann’s Psycho musical passages have the end unresolved through that absence of tonal centre. I think this leaves the film buff always thinking, so what next and with a sense of unease.    


What makes good horror?

Emma: For me, horror is inherently queer. Horror challenges traditional norms and allows for diverse representation. It explores LGBTQ+ themes and characters, often delving into the complexities of identity, discrimination, and societal fears. Queer horror can be a powerful tool for both self- expression and social commentary within the genre.


If Hitchcock was alive today, what kind of movies do you think he would be making?

Paul: Hitchcock enjoyed the mastery of ground breaking techniques, so my guess is he would have continued with the and moved with the technology. Who’s knows? that may have drawn him towards sci-fi suspense and horror; a cross between Alien and The Martian!


Once the dust has settled on Psycho at the TRCH, what’s next?

Paul: We’re currently working on our 2024 shows and already have a 50-piece Ska orchestra ready to go at a festival in the west midlands next March. I’m working with a composer from the gaming world on a project where we aim to being their music to life. We’re also putting together a new Ibiza show along with an Indie Orchestra with Brit Pop classics. As far as cinema is concerned, I have a quiet but brave eye on the 2006 Casino Royale

Emma: I’m working on more pop-up cinema events, and a mischievous immersive screening at Broadway Cinema for Christmas.


Psycho plays at the Royal Concert Hall on 31 October 3023 at 7.30 pm

Follow the Limelight Orchestra on Facebook and Instagram at @limelightorch.

Follow The Fortune & Glory Film Club on Facebook and Instagram at @fortuneandgloryfilmclub

Follow Monstrous Flesh on social media @monstrous_flesh and via

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