Pianist to accompany silent films at St. Joseph’s Heritage Museum

Published 9:00 am Sunday, August 5, 2012

Enjoy a summer evening with critically acclaimed pianist Larry Schanker, who will treat audience members to the “Silent Film Showcase” with live accompaniment as the “Casual Classics Series” concludes for the summer at 6 p.m. Aug. 9 at the Heritage Museum & Cultural Center, 601 Main St., St. Joseph, as part of the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra’s “Casual Classics, Uncork and Unwind” series.

After underscoring a Charlie Chaplin short, Schanker will share his thoughts about the unique, improvisational art of silent film accompaniment and will actively demonstrate the most successful techniques within the silent film industry. This will be followed by a showing of the “Sherlock Jr.,” a 45-minute Buster Keaton film.

Schanker has been writing music for theater, film, dance and the concert hall for almost 30 years. His theatrical underscoring runs the gamut from Shakespeare to Chekhov to comedy at the Second City in Chicago. He has applied the same techniques to the accompaniment of silent film. At the Indiana University Cinema, he accompanied a 1920 silent “Hamlet” and he was commissioned to write a score for piano and harp for the 1924 version of “Peter Pan,” by the DeBartolo Center at Notre Dame, which premiered in the summer of 2010. In 2006, he provided live music for a Charlie Chaplin film festival at the State Theatre in Benton Harbor, as part of the Around Town series of the SMSO, and he has participated in the Sounds of Silent Film Festival at the Vickers Theatre on several occasions.

He lives in St. Joseph with his wife, Jenny, and his daughter, Gwen.

“Casual Classics, Uncork and Unwind,” tickets are $35 per person and include a light dinner with wine and additional beverages.

More information and ticket purchase is available at (269) 982-4030 or www.smso.org.