Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Bert Williams' Lime Kiln Field Day - Silent movie accompaniment! - Wed. Feb 25 7:30pm Amherst MA

Really, I've always wanted to accompany for a silent movie. It seems like one of the most fun things you could do from behind a piano. So I was tickled when an opportunity came along to accompany a silent film for the Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival.

Then I began to learn more about the film, Lime Kiln Field Day. It's really quite a historic film. It was made in 1913 and then never released until the New York Museum of Modern Art unearthed it last fall. Created by legendary comedian Bert Williams, it is the first feature-length film with an all-black cast. It is a love story with many funny moments and a really terrific big dance number. Besides being just plain entertaining, the film is also a rarity in that it shows black characters not in the roles of servants or criminals, but as heroes of their own story, including a love story shown in a warm and positive way.

I'm planning a score for the film based on the works of black composers of the period: Scott Joplin, Will Marion Cook, and Samuel Coleridge Taylor. I will also play some pieces that the New York MOMA sent along which were probably used in a stage adaptation of Lime Kiln Field Day by Bert Williams' troupe. Two are songs by J. Leubrie Hill, who appears in the film.

I'm so happy and humbled to be part of this performance.

More about the performance, from the film festival brochure: