Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The adventures of silent film with live music

I'm highly impatient with people who complain there is nothing to do in St. Louis. What I usually infer from this gripe is that the person expressing the gripe has a very narrow comfort zone or limited initiative and imagination. If you are willing to cross Delmar, or the Mississippi River, or the Missouri River, or the color line (a quaint term that still, sadly, works, in this town), then you could live multiple lives in St. Louis on any given day and never get to the bottom of your agenda.

I only miss two aspects of life in New York City, from a "things to do" perspective. In New York, you can hear the music of Charles Mingus performed somewhere, by somebody, most nights of the week - I don't think that is true of any other place - and in New York you can see a silent film with live musical accompaniment almost any night of the week.

I miss that silent film scene in St. Louis, not because we don't get the experience here, but because it's not an everyday thing. One has far fewer opportunities here. As a daddy with a demanding day job, I end up missing most of my chances, though The Webster University Film Series in particular keeps programming wonderful silent films with live music (that I keep missing).

Finally, one I get to see (I think), courtesy of the Saint Louis Art Museum, is screening Sunday, September 28 at 1 p.m. in the Museum Auditorium. It will be a race from church, but I plan to give it a go. The price is right: it's free.

The silent film: The Adventures of Prince Achmed. Created in 1926 by Lotte Reiniger, then a 23-year-old teacher in Germany, this early animated film tells the story of an Arabian prince, an evil sorcerer and a captured princess through shadow puppet techniques.

The live musical accompanists: Miles and Karina, who composed the score on commission from the Northwest Film Forum. CD Baby blurb says: "Miles and Karina are David Miles Keenan and Nova Karina Devonie. Since their early days with cowgirl supergroup, Ranch Romance, they have been writing and performing locally in their home town of Seattle. Miles plays guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle and both sing, while Karina's instrument of choice is the accordion. They like to call their music 'Mid-twentieth-century music': Cartoon themes - Swing - 50's and 60's Country - Cowboy - Bluegrass - Old time - Hot Club - 60's Orchestral Spy - Bossa Nova."

For more information, call 314.721.0072 or visit


Brett said...

Be sure to check out these folks, who also do silent film accompaniment:

Circle/Cinema 22
In conjunction with St. Louis International Film Festival
Co-sponsored by Cinema St.
Sunday, Nov. 16, 2008
St. Louis Art Museum Auditorium
One Fine Arts Dr.
*Tickets prices TBD by the Art Museum, but are included as one of the NMC season events*

Back again in its 22nd iteration, the popular music/film collaboration continues. New Music Circle will provide live and innovative musical accompaniment to a silent film as part of the St. Louis International Film Festival. Details soon to follow!


Donald Sosin said...

Well, even in NY one cannot really hear silent film music every night of the week. But there is a lot going on here, to be sure. On the other hand, I am delighted to be one of the NY pianists visiting St. Louis next month to play for PANDORA'S BOX, and hope you can attend and say hi. My website is and I am looking forward to my visit to Webster.

Best wishes,

Donald Sosin

Confluence City said...

I will mark my calendar and negotiate with my wife!