WRITTEN BY MIA LENTINELLO
Silent film accompanist Ben Model performs to Buster Keaton’s The General in Founder’s Hall at St. Francis on Tuesday, Oct. 15.
Model has been playing for the past 28 years at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and is one of the nation’s top silent film accompanists.
Model came to SFC to play to the 1926 film The General starring Buster Keaton.
The 75-minute film was musically accompanied by Model on piano, who plays the whole show without any sheet music in front of him.
“My film accompaniment is solely improvised. I can adjust to different audiences and stay within the era and give to the expectations of a contemporary audience,” said Model.
Model mentioned he avoids recognizable music except when specifically called for.
He explained that if you play something familiar, the audience will already know that tune from hearing it so many times other places. He wants to play something no one has ever heard.
Silent films were popular before sound came into play in the early 1930s, but even after a few years music came back in because something seemed to be missing from the films.
Model spoke of how back in the time of silent films there was an emotional attachment to music because it was all new.
Today Model tries to keep his music fresh for his audiences no matter if he is playing for a middle school, senior citizens, or right here at SFC.
For more information on Model and his film series collaboration with the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts go to: www.silentclowns.com