Silent Film Music and other Sounding Off

Talking about music, consciousness, silent film, Italian food, travel, good books, married life, kids, and more

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Sonoma Film Festival, Turner Classic Movies, and more

It's May, and I'm catching up on a whirlwind month of work. I went out to Sonoma California in early April for their annual film festival and played for ROBIN HOOD (1922) and THE PEACH GIRL (1931) with my new Roland RD-700GX. What a great festival! They honored Bruce Willis (didn't get to meet him) and showed a lot of new films by mostly young filmmakers. I particularly enjoyed 500 DAYS OF SUMMER, THE ANSWER MAN, PUNCHING THE CLOWN, BIG DICK, and THREE-FIFTY, and had fun talking with some of the filmmakers. For the Fairbanks film I programmed a variety of medieval sounds: trumpets, drums, recorders, lutes, as well as some more Hollywood-y strings for romance, and improvised on some themes I had prepared beforehand.

The DVD looked fine on a rear projection system, and the capacity audience of 200 gave the performance a standing ovation. The event was voted the #2 audience favorite, which was fantastic, particularly considering it was the first time a silent film had been shown there in the 12 years of the festival.

I also played for the lovely PEACH GIRL, which I had scored previously for Richie Meyer, and which has been shown on TCM. The festival staff is terrific and everyone hoped to do another silent program or two next year. I'm ready!

Having put the finishing touches on THE BIG STAKES, a 1921 Western, I sent it off to Dennis Doros at Milestone Films, and it was shown on TCM on May 5. Along with sounds from the Roland, I had the great pleasure of some help from Howard Levy, harmonica player extraordinaire, Susan Heerema, violin virtuoso, Joe Bouchard, mandolin and banjo whiz, and John Meyer, acoustic guitar genius. Howard and Susan sent in their tracks from Chicago and New Jersey, respectively, and I merged them with the work I and the others did in my home studio. You can hear some of the finished product on YouTube.

(I tried linking this but it's not working, so copy the whole link and paste...)

Late in April I met with Chris Farina, who directed a new documentary about John Hunter, a teacher of gifted children in Virginia. For 30 years John has been giving workshops to kids using the World Peace board game he developed, and the doc follows the progress of one 4th grade class from day 1 to game's end. Chris has chosen some pre-existing music for a few spots in the film, and I will be adding some additional tracks. The hour-long film is slated for showing on PBS in the fall.

I'm now in Fairfield, Iowa teaching a one-month music appreciation course at Maharishi University of Management. I have 16 students, diverse in age and ability, but all sharing a common love of many different kinds of musical expression, particularly singing, and our daily practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique.

The morning sessions consist of flute lessons taught by an Indian master, and piano lessons, with my guidance both in person and online through my course in Absolute Beginner Keyboard at Afternoons are spent singing a broad range of songs from Gregorian chant to Beatles, learning the blues, studying different styles of music, theory, songwriting, and how all this relates to our own consciousness. It's a thrill to be able to share all that I've learned with these lively beings, and the other faculty and administration I have met with are hoping that the music courses here will grow and expand in the coming year. Next week I'll lead a songwriting workshop with kids at the Maharishi School, 3rd to 6th grade, and use the songs they write for the performance of ROBIN HOOD the following week, in which I'll be joined by some of the students in my class on guitar, percussion, bass and keyboard. It's an exciting place to be and I hope to come back in the fall.

Labels: , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home