CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The West Texas A&M Symphony Orchestra is set to provide live orchestral accompaniment for a screening of Buster Keaton’s silent film “The General” on Oct. 29.
The free live screening, officials noted, will take place at 3 p.m. on Oct. 29 at the La Rita Performing Arts Theatre, located at 311 Denrock Ave. in Dalhart. The film will also be screened for members of The Arts at WT: A Subscription Series at 7 p.m. on Oct. 26 in Legacy Hall in the Jack B. Kelley Student Center. Membership is required and can be purchased at the event for a “pro-rated cost,” officials added.
Officials explained that historically, movie theatres would provide musical accompaniment for silent films in the form of a piano in a small theatre or a full orchestra in a large theatre. Dr. Mark Bartley, WT’s Lilith Brainard Professor of Music and director of orchestral activities, and the WT Symphony Orchestra brought back that tradition through their Live Cinema Series set to take place every other year both on and off campus.
“For most films, theater music directors would string together popular and classical hits that fit the overall themes of the movie,” Bartley said. “But for us, Dr. B.J. Brooks has written a new scene-specific score that is performed in synchronization with the film by the WT Symphony. This soundtrack is in a contemporary cinematic style that speaks to the central element of the film—namely the comedic, acrobatic feats of Keaton himself.”
According to officials, the score provided for the silent film will mark the fifth film score written by Dr. B.J. Brooks, director of WT’s School of Music.
“In most types of composition, the job of engaging the audience is weighed heavily on the audio alone. Though watching performers at a high level is part of the experience, it is the aural component that compels the audience’s imagination,” Brooks said. “Writing for ballet, film or any accompanying visual is vitally different. To be able to write a score to accompany or augment the image presents so many wonderful opportunities to connect to the audience member in a very direct and unified way.”
“Audiences are drawn not just for the powerful audio effect of a full orchestral soundtrack performed live, but to watch non-CGI movies featuring dramatic effects rendered in real life by the actual actors without the benefit of stunt doubles,” Bartley said. “Buster Keaton pulls off physically harrowing stunts that would deter even Tom Cruise.”
The WT Symphony Orchestra’s free appearance at the La Rita, officials added, was made possible through Showcase in a Suitcase, an endowment fund that was established by Louise and Gene Rahll.