The Kennedy Center

The Devil Music Ensemble


Formed in Boston in 1999, the Devil Music Ensemble (DME) is comprised of Brendon Wood, Jonah Rapino, and Tim Nylander. Mr. Wood, from Tiverton RI, received his Bachelors of Fine Arts in Music from the University of Massachusetts. Mr. Rapino, from Toledo Ohio, received his Bachelors Fine Arts in classical music performance from Boston University. Mr. Nylander, from Portsmouth NH, received his Bachelors in Fine Arts from Harvard University. 

DME began as a tool to explore as many facets of musical performance as possible.  In its short history, the DME has been a rock trio, and Eastern European folk band, a country music review, a 40 piece modern orchestral ensemble, a house band for live theater, and a speak easy era jazz band. Most recently, DME has established itself as one of the primary American groups in the field of live original score performances to classic silent film. 

Members of DME have also begun to make their name doing soundtracks for modern film, which include Darkon and The Day of The Cabbage. According to Eddie Cockrell’s review of Darkon in Variety, “Violinist Jonah Rapino, who also scores silent classics, has created an evocative score on par with any Hollywood fantasy”. Rapino’s latest soundtrack project was for the documentary Alice, about Alice Neel, one of the most famous American portrait painter’s of the 20th Century. Mark Holcomb of New York’s Time Out says “…the effect is spirited rather than incriminating and, bolstered by Jonah Rapino’s contemplative score, as piercingly detailed as one of Alice’s mesmerizing portraits.”

No single description of the DME performance experience can accurately depict this group’s versatile and genre spanning capabilities, which can make an audience forget that there is a live band directing the mood, emotion, and pace of the visual imagery they are immersed in.

DME has toured over seven times in the U.S., performing in venues including The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Smithsonian Institute, the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Block Museum in Chicago, the Coolidge Corner Cinema in Boston, The Starz Film Center in Denver, the Balboa Theater in San Francisco, the Cleveland Institute of Art, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville, and the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, the Pasadena Asia Museum, and the Portland Museum of Art. In addition, DME has toured Europe three times, performing in memorable places such as the Danish Film Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark, Caixa Forum in Barcelona, Spain, the Amsterdam film museum in the Netherlands, the Cinema Museum of Italy, the Europalia Festival in Brussels, Belgium, and the European Capital of Culture festival in Austria.

Show Info for February 20, 2010
The Devil Music Ensemble performs their new original score live to the silent martial arts film Red Heroine (1929, directed by Wen Yimin). The DME premiered this score at the Films at the Gate Kung Fu Film Festival outdoors in Chinatown Boston in the fall of 2008. This film is the only surviving extant Chinese “Kung Fu” film from the silent era. Red Heroine is a prime example of the terrifically popular Chinese swordplay genre (wuxia pian), often based on published novels or serials, and an early cinema export, which was banned after the Cultural Revolution. The score that the DME has composed pulls from the traditions of Chinese classical and folk music, as well as soundtracks from classic Kung Fu cinema, and is the only modern score made expressly for this film. This is a very rare performance that showcases the combination of the ancient tradition of martial arts, early 20th century Asian film, and 21st century music.
The Devil Music Ensemble