From the Boston Phoenix, Thursday, January 21, 1999 Making Wings of Desire sing It's one thing to provide live music as accompaniment to silent films, as the Alloy Orchestra has done for the likes of Metropolis and Strike and Steamboat Bill, Jr. It's quite another to integrate live music into a movie that already has a score. But that's what the vocal art ensemble the Boston Secession is going to attempt next weekend when it performs music ranging from Beethoven and Rossini to Arvo Pärt and Philip Glass while the Coolidge Corner screens Wim Wenders's 1987 touching-an-angel film Wings of Desire. It's not as odd an idea as you might think. Apart from the Berlin nightclub performances -- Crime and the City Solution's "Six Bells Chime," Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' "The Carny" and "From Her to Eternity" (the film, of course, goes from eternity to her) -- Jürgen Knieper's score is intermittent and most discreet: a snatch of cello here, a little ambient synth there. Boston Secession artistic director Jane Ring Frank explains, "Whereas with orchestras like the Alloy, the music is brought in to revitalize the cinematic experience, we're using the movie to revitalize the concert experience." "Bach Again," the Secession's first major presentation (in January of 1998), "showed where Bach got his ideas and then showed what composers have done with them since, and that culminated with the Arvo Pärt Credo." Not to mention the Carpenters' Christmas album. "This is very very weird," Frank admits, "but in my youth, however it happened, I sang back-up for the Carpenters." Bach . . . Pärt . . . Carpenters -- clearly Frank, who is chapel musician at the Episcopal Divinity School in Harvard Square and a visiting scholar at Brandeis (she also teaches at Emerson), is no mean musical historian. But why Wings of Desire? "My colleague Bob Fink and I were kicking around how much fun it would be to score a cartoon, or even a whole movie. What we were looking for was something with poetic imagery." So how often has she watched the film over the past year? "Hundreds of times. And we perused hundreds of scores." The result reflects Frank's centuries-spanning musical range. Philip Glass's Einstein on the Beach for the camera's opening discovery of angel Damiel atop Berlin's Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche, Ligeti's Lux Aeterna in the Staatsbibliothek, the Kyrie from Rossini's Petite messe solennelle for the motorcycle accident, the Chorus of the Exiled Jews from John Adams's The Death of Klinghoffer during Homer's search for Potsdamer Platz, Ligeti's Aventures for Cassiel's "death leap" off the Siegessäule, Saint-Saëns's Le cygne for Marion lying on her bed, the last part of Beethoven's String Quartet Opus 132 when Damiel takes the plunge, and Bruckner's sublime motet Christus factus est for Marion's "Jetzt oder nie" monologue in the bar. The Secession performers, including instrumentalists as well as vocalists, will sit in front of the screen, but you'll still be able to read the subtitles. And you'll hear parts of the original soundtrack (Nick Cave is a good bet), as well as some of the original silences. Some might call this messing with a classic, but exploring is, after all, in the spirit of Wings of Desire, and who's to say that the Secession's performance won't lift Wenders's film -- whose German title is Der Himmel über Berlin -- even higher into the heavens. The Boston Secession will accompany Wings of Desire at 7:30 p.m. next Friday and Saturday, January 29 and 30, at the Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline. Call 734-2501 for further information, 617/931-2000 (or stop by the box office) for tickets. -- Jeffrey Gantz ---- Screen-L is sponsored by the Telecommunication & Film Dept., the University of Alabama.