Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"Spice of the Program" downloadable MP3

I've just discovered that Naxos' music download site,, has my chamber piece available. There are a few other sites that have the CD available, including iTunes, but you have to buy the whole CD to get my piece. On the Naxos site you can buy just my track, for $2.39.

Click here to go to the page for New American Masters Vol. 3 on the ClassicsOnline site if you're interested in buying the track. There's a 30-second preview there as well.

(The CD is listed on iTunes, but since my track is just a hair over 10 mins you have to buy the whole CD from iTunes. However, on iTunes the preview clip is 90 seconds long.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

views of the Indian Lake Theatre, Indian Lake NY

Here are some photos I took of the Indian Lake Theatre in Indian Lake, NY. They brought me up to present and accompany Harold Lloyd's "Safety Last" on Sunday, November 21st. The theatre was built in 1938 and was a summer-season-only movie theater, and continued to be so for the next several decades. The theatre was dark from 2006 until a group of community members organized and fundraised in 2008 and bought the theatre, which is now being run as a not-for-profit. Visit for more information.

Front of the theatre, closer view

Front of the Indian Lake Theatre, street view.

Angle view of the theatre front, with signs for routes 28 and 30 visible.

Closer view of the theatre entrance and original ticket booth.

Concession stand.

A 1942 poster for films playing at the theatre that someone from the community found.

Back of the auditorium entrance.

View of the cinema from the back. Seen onscreen is a slideshow I brought on
DVD of silent film era coming-attraction slides.

Side wall of the cinema; visible are surround speakers, as well as vintage light
fixtures which have white light whenpatrons enter the theater, before the show.

The wall sconces switch to blue-green-red during the show. My digital
camera doesn't do justice to the beauty of these colors and the look
these lights give the theater.

View of the cinema from the front, where the recently added performing stage
can be seen. The theatre currently alternates showing new film (in second run, on
35mm) with classic/foreign/art film, video-projected opera, live concerts and theatre.

Monday, November 22, 2010

article in "Lake Champlain Weekly" re Safety Last show

This very nice article appeared in the Nov 17-23, 2010 issue of the Lake Champlain weekly, a feature story promoting the "Safety Last" show I did for the Champlain Valley Film Society on Nov 20. In the CVFS's 8-year history, the #2 and #3 ranking movies in terms of attendance were last year's showing of "The General" and this year's show of "Safety Last". This was probably due to the silents' being a big draw for families. Silent movies rock!!

Friday, November 12, 2010

orchestra and organ at the Egptian Theatre in Boise

I know, I's two months later, but anyway here is my video blog entry for my trip to Boise, ID in September. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Nosferatu at MoMA, on Time Inc website

Here's a cool video profile on me, just posted on the Time Inc. website, and made by Jim Fields. This was shot in the early spring, but I will actually be playing for "Schreck" in December during MoMA's "Weimar Kino" series. Enjoy!

If you wanna see it on the Time Inc. site click here.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Sept 1, in Tromsø Norway - school show

Here is a new videoblog entry from my first day (back) in Tromsø, Norway. You'll get to see what the Verdensteatret theatre looks like, and get a glimpse at one of the three shows we did for groups of 5th-graders.

Friday, August 27, 2010

plunging into fall 2010

Back from vacash, and hit the ground running. Prepping for travel to Tromsø, played for Diary of a Lost Girl (first time I used theatre organ since June!) at the C.A.C., book flights to Boise and Massillon, and had to print out and ship out a concert band score for the Hong Kong Wind Ensemble, all while trying unpack (Vermont) and repack (Norway).

I'd been contacted by Dr. Thomas E. Verrier, of the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, a few weeks ago about the Hong Kong program. The HKWE is a youth wind ensemble, and Dr. Verrier works with them for an event or two every year. They'll be performing my Chaplin "Adventurer" score for band on Nov 7, so if you're in Tsuen Wan, go to the Tsuen Wan Town Hall at 3pm.

Am looking forward to returning to Tromsø. "Stumfilmdager" ("Silent Film Days") is a nice festival, and like the Cinesation in Massillon OH (end of Sept) it seems a little more relaxed and informal than a high-profile do like Pordenone or even Cinefest. Plus both festivals are held entirely at cinemas built in 1915, so every show has that warm, vintage feel of seeing a silent film in a space it would've been shown in when it was released. There's really something special about watching a film that way, because you're seeing the film as well as the proscenium, walls, ceiling and atmosphere people saw and felt when they saw these films.

Will try to concoct a way to more easily and conveniently do video-blog entries with the flip cam. I don't have the patience usually to bring the footage into iMovie and edit, even though it's relatively simple. I may need to find someone to help me out with these so they get done.

Now, where'd I put that USA-to-Europe a.c. adapter plug...?

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

"The Spice of the Program" now available on CD!

A piece of chamber music I composed is now available on CD. The Palisades Virtuosi — an ensemble comprised of Margaret Swinchoski, flute, Donald Mokrynski, clarinet, and Ron Levy, piano — commissioned me to compose a ten-minute work for them back in 2005. The piece, entitled "The Spice of the Program" (yes, like the logo/catch-phrase of Educational Pictures) was premiered at the PVI's Dec 2005 concert, and was recorded the following year. The CD was just released this month (July 2010), in which my piece is joined by five others by Dick Hyman, Bryan Schober, Fred Messner and Randall E. Faust. You can buy it here on the Albany Records website, or here on I haven't heard the CD yet — who has time to open a shrink-wrapped CD anymore? — but I'm sure the first ten tracks are fantastic, and much classier than mine (track #11). Scroll down to read the liner notes I wrote for my piece.

The Spice of the Program [2005] is a tribute to the short comedy film of the silent era. The comedy two-reeler was the staple of every movie show during the silent film era, and was often the bread-and-butter of every theater manager. During the 1920’s, a theater marquee often displayed the star and title of the slapstick short on the bill as well as the feature attraction, because the new Harold Lloyd or Lloyd Hamilton comedy was often a bigger draw than the dramatic feature showing that week. Drawing on 25+ years of composing and improvising live musical scores for silent films, Model has constructed a piece of chamber music based on the structure of a typical comedy short, with themes (or leitmotifs) for the lead comic, his adversary, and the girl the comic is pining or fighting for, as well as the “standard” mood or incidental music essential for one of these cinema appetizers — “busy” music, “trouble brewing” music and, of course, a chase that resolves with a recap of the a love theme and the film’s main theme. The listener should feel free to relax, forget where they are, and “tune out” — imagining a fictional silent slapstick film as it unspools on the silver screen in their mind’s eye.

Friday, July 02, 2010

All finished with the "Auteurist" series at MoMA

Well, stick a fork in me...I am done with the 26 performances at MoMA in June, as well as the Sept-May run of the silents in Charles Silver's "Auteurist" series, and have come out the other end. It's taken a day or two for the music to stop swirling around in my head.

I initially thought I'd be able to shoot and post video blogs on a regular basis, but the mental space to do that -- and a few other thing I'd thought I'd manage to pull off during this hectic run of mostly two shows a day -- didn't quite happen. There really wasn't room for reflection on the work done each day to the point that I could articulate it back to anyone who checks this blog.

Throughout the 3-week run in June I challenged myself to make improvements on each performance in my music and improvisation. My watchword to myself (when I could remember it) was always "you can always play less".

I got to know another bunch of regular attendees (seniors and otherwise) who really enjoyed the series, the sound of the Miditzer theatre organ, and my playing. There was one woman who had been coming to several shows with her elderly mother, usually sitting in the first few rows, who presented me with a gift at the end of one of the shows to thank me for my assortment of Godiva chocolates. Very sweet (pardon the pun).

It was great to have work to go to every day, and silent film accompaniment work at that. The second half of the run was done almost entirely on theatre organ, so that was another nice treat.

I'm still digesting everything and will hopefully post a more thorough report on what went through my mind during some shows, reflections on certain films, etc.

No more performances for two weeks, until Slapsticon, although I have other projects to finish and get out the door before I take the Amtrak down to DC/Arlington.

Perhaps as dust settles I can jot down some notes, and file a more thorough blog post on the "Auteurist" series. There's plenty more silents coming at MoMA in the fall, and I hope to be busy playing for some of these series.

Until next time...

Friday, June 11, 2010

video blog June 11, 2010 - playing for Fields, actualities, early pioneers

Here's the June 11th video blog in which I discuss playing for a Fields silent, as well as for two programs of early films at MoMA and how it went in comparison to the performances of the same show last fall.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

guest on WNYU FM's "Citywide" with Lucas Green

I was a guest on the "Citywide" radio program on WNYU (89.1 FM and on tonight. Well, actually we pre-recorded the half-hour show last week. The show is hosted by Lucas Green, currently an NYU student who I met in March when I played and spoke at Prof. Antonia Lant's silent cinema class there. Lucas hosts this show, and wanted to have me on the program.

You can listen to the entire 30 min show here:


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

on the Leonard Lopate show, with Harriet Fields

I was a guest on the Leonard Lopate show today, along with Harriet Fields (W.C. Fields' granddaughter). Listen to the segment, below, embedded here from the WNYC/Lopate website.

videoblog: W.C. Fields, the Lumiere bros., et al

Here is my latest videoblog, (hopefully) the first in a series of near-daily blog postings I'm hoping to do this month, since I'll be accompanying one or two shows every day. I discuss preparing for a show of W.C. Fields in So's Your Old Man (1926) at the Library for the Performing Arts (6/8), and for a show of 1890s actualities at MoMA (6/9).

Monday, April 19, 2010

3 weeks of daily silent film screenings at MoMA in June

I will be rawther busy in June. Here is the schedule for the repeat-showings of nearly all the silent film programs in Charles Silver's Auteurist History of Film series. It's going to be a blast revisiting all these, and in three weeks of daily screenings of silent film. This go-round, the shows will be held in MoMA's larger Titus I theater, and will be held at times when most people can attend. I will use piano for accompaniment in the first half, switching over to Miditzer theatre organ somewhere around Keaton's Our Hospitality/Sherlock Jr.; exceptions being Cabiria (Miditzer) and French Avante-Garde (piano).

An Auteurist History of Film: Second Chance Screenings
*click* to see full program descriptions

Weds, June 9 at 4:30 - Actualities and Glimmerings of More (Lumiere et al)
Weds, June 9 at 8:00 - Pre-Cinema (compilation/doc with track)
Thur, June 10 at 4:30 - Lesser-Known Pioneers of Cinema
Thur, June 10 at 8:00 - Georges Melies and His Rivals: Melies, Zecca, et al
Fri, June 11 at 4:30 - D. W. Griffith at Biograph
Fri, June 11 at 8:00 - Stellan Rye: The Student of Prague and Benjamin Christensen: The Mysterious X

Sat, June 12 at 2:00 - Edwin S. Porter (
Before the Nickelodeon doc, plus shorts shown MOS)
Sat, June 12 at 5:00 - D. W. Griffith:
The Avenging Conscience and Judith of Bethulia
Sat, June 12 at 8:00 - Giovanni Pastrone:
Sun, June 13 at 5:00 -
"Anthology of Italian Cinema" (compilation/doc with track)
Weds, June 16 at 8:00 - Von Stroheim:
Foolish Wives (print has track)
Thur, June 17 at 8:00 - Eisenstein:
Battleship Potemkin and October (prints have tracks)
Fri, June 18 at 8:00 - Send in the Clowns: Linder, Chaplin, Normand, Arbuckle, Keaton
Sat, June 19 at 2:00 - Ince:
Custer's Last Fight / De Mille: The Cheat
Sat, June 19 at 5:00 - Marshall Neilan
The Jackknife Man / King Vidor: Amarilly of Clothesline Alley
Sun, June 20 at 5:30 - Raoul Walsh:
Regeneration /Maurice Tourneur: The Blue-Bird
Mon, June 21 at 4:30 Buster Keaton:
Sherlock, Jr. and Our Hospitality
Mon, June 21 at 8:00 - Ernst Lubitsch:
The Marriage Circle
Weds, June 23 at 4:30 - Fritz Lang:
Weds, June 23 at 8:00 - F.W. Murnau:
The Last Laugh
Thur, June 24 at 4:30 - Merian C. Cooper:
Grass: A Nation's Battle for Life
Thur, June 24 at 8:00 - King Vidor:
The Big Parade
Fri, June 25 at 4:30 - F.W. Murnau:
Sunrise (print with orig track)
Fri, June 25 at 8:00 - Buster Keaton:
The General, plus Steamboat Bill, Jr. (last 2 reels only)
Sat, June 26 at 2:00 -
Carl Th. Dreyer: The Passion of Joan of Arc
Sat, June 26 at 5:00 - French Avant-garde shorts, incl. Clair's Entr' Acte, Leger's Ballet Mechanique, Buñuel's Un Chien Andelou and more.
Sat, June 26 at 8:00 - Frank Borzage:
Street Angel (print with orig track)
Sun, June 27 at 2:30 - Dziga Vertov:
Man with a Movie Camera, plus Kino Pravda
Sun, June 27 at 5:30 - V. I. Pudovkin:
Storm Over Asia, plus Chess Fever
Mon, June 28 at 4:30 - G.W. Pabst:
Pandora's Box
Mon, June 28 at 8:00 - Josef von Sternberg:
Docks of New York
Weds, June 30 at 4:30 - Victor Sjöstrom:
The Wind
Weds, June 30 at 8:00 - Aleksandr Dovzhenko:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

the complete "Metropolis" on May 7th

Have just gotten the "OK" to announce my performance on Fri May 7 accompanying "The Complete 'Metropolis'" at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntingotn, NY (that's on Long Island, folks). This is the new restoration with 25 minutes of lost footage restored.

The C.A.C. is doing a one-week run of the picture, and I'll be accompanying the film with a new score of my own on opening night; all other performances will have the recorded track (the 1927 original Gottfried Huppertz orchestral score, as I understand...I'll re-post or revise if I hear different). I'll be accompanying the film on the mighty Miditzer virtual theatre organ.

I had a great time at Cinefest last weekend, got to meet in person a whole lotta fans, many of whom are also now FB fns/friends. Will post again with details, but I'd have to say one of the highlights was getting to play the Möller 3/10 theatre pipe organ at the Capitol Theatre in Rome NY for the 35mm show.

There's plenty of other news percolating, and I'll post when any of these items are set and solid.

See you at the silents!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cinefest 30 - day 1

Day one of Cinefest 30 has gone well. Played for a pair of features from the late 'teens this morning – Life's Harmony (dir Frank Borzage) and The Wild Girl (with Eva Tanguay) – and just played for Charley Chase in The Sting of Stings. I'd played for it (same print) last month at the Silent Clowns Film Series, so it was fresh in my mind. It's a fun short, and doesn't circulate, even among the die-hard collectors at Cinefest, so it was fun for everyone to get to see it.

Here's a clip of the first 4 mins or so of the performance (no extra charge for the audible laughter). Enjoy!

Monday, March 15, 2010

silent film music at "Meet Me At The Corner"

A new episode of "Meet Me At The Corner" was posted today on, a well-traveled educational website of virtual field trips. The episode is about silent film and its music, and I was the guest in the piece. We shot this last fall, when the Colorado-based producer, Donna Guthrie, contacted me in advance of her coming to NYC to shoot several episodes. She literally googled "silent films" and "New York" and found me.

It was impossible to find a theater to shoot in that wasn't going to charge us a couple hundred bucks, so we wound up doing the shoot in a rehearsal studio at Ripley-Grier. The video crew were a couple of communications students from Rider College in NJ. The interviewers for the segments are usually local home-schoolers, and it turned out the young woman who did my segment was someone who is in my daughter's modern dance class.

We did some Q&A and then I accompanied a scene from a Sennett comedy with Billy Bevan and Andy Clyde that Donna had found. I watched it on a laptop while they shot me playing, and then they synched the film up in editing, and did a nice effect, showing my hands in close-up, with the clip running in the upper right corner (see frame-grab below).

I hope this reaches a lot of kids and helps get them hooked on, or at least interested in, silent films. You never know who you're going to reach...! Thanks, Donna!

To watch the whole segment (it's only about 4 mins), click here.

See you at the silents!


Wednesday, March 03, 2010

interim post: Lee Erwin-scored short

I know, I know, I haven't posted any video here in a few weeks. To keep you happy, here is a 1929 Mack Sennett short co-starring Carole Lombard that I just uploaded to YouTube. It has a score by Lee Erwin, which he performed and recorded on his ersatz theatre organ, comprised of three early digital keyboards stacked on a rack -- Roland Juno, Yamaha DX77, Emu Emax sampling keyboard -- plus a full organ pedalboard custom-wired to an old Moog. He plays it like a theater organ, but doesn't necessarily try to duplicate theatre organ sounds. There is so little of Lee's playing for comedy shorts available, I thought this was worthy uploading and posting. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

video blog episode 2: accompanying "The Last Laugh" at MoMA

Here's episode 3, in which I talk about preparing for and accompanying F.W. Murnau's "The Last Laugh" on two consecutive days. The theme song (seen briefly at the beginning) was actually shot at Bard College at Simon's Rock, where I was guest speaker/artist (third time!) at Larry Burke and Larry Wallach's film music course on Feb 2.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

video blog episode 2: playing for Alice Guy films and early cinema, et al

Here is the latest episode of my video blog. I talk about accompanying Alice Guy Blaché films and the challenges of playing for nickelodeon-era films, about working with Parallel Exit, and some other tidbits. Enjoy!

Friday, January 08, 2010

video blog episode 1: Griffith, Gish, and instant leitmotifs

I'm going to give video-blogging another go in 2010. Using the FlipVideo camera makes it a little more convenient, and talking-head blogging sure beats writing, and typing and correcting typos (which only seem to appear after I click on 'publish'). I'm hoping I can be a little more consistent than the last time I tried this.

The theme song is actually something I wrote for a public access program my Mom used to host and produce in Larchmont (hence the piece's name, "One for Alice"), and it popped back into my head when I sat down to shoot this today.

Here's episode one. Feel free to click on the full-screen option in the bottom right corner of the window, or better it in full HD here.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

musical theme: "An Auteurist History of Film"

This is a theme I came up with for the series at MoMA, which I play as the lights go down and between films (if it's a double-bill). Gives you a look (and a listen) at the mod-looking Modus digital piano Yamaha has loaned to MoMA for the series. (I shot this quickly, before the house opened on Jan 6).

"An Autheurist History of Film" (theme), music by Ben Model
copyright © 2010 by Ben Model. All rights reserved.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Auteurist series at MoMA moves in the 1920s

Well, we're out of the woods, now (meaning films of the 'teens), and the pictures just get better and better every week. The series screens on Wed/Thur/Fri at 1:30pm; the dates below reflect the fact that I only play on Weds and Thurs. In 2010 I will use the Miditzer for accompaniment more, as by 1920 the theatre organ and orchestra were the more prevalent sounds heard in picture houses. Film scheduled for May will be posted later...

Jan 6 & 7 - True Heart Susie / Broken Blossoms (DWG)
Jan 13 & 14 - Foolish Wives (print has recorded track)
Jan 20 & 21 - The Chaplin Revue (print has recorded track)
Jan 28 & 29 - Sherlock Jr / Our Hospitality (Keaton)
Feb 3 & 4 - The Marriage Circle (Lubitsch)
Feb 10 & 11 - The Last Laugh (Murnau)
Feb 17 & 18 - Siegfried part 1 (Lang)
Feb 24 & 25 - The Big Parade (Vidor)
Mar 3 & 4 - Strike / Potemkin (prints have recorded tracks)
Mar 10 & 11 - Grass / Secrets of a Soul
Mar 17 & 18 - The General / Steamboat Bill Jr (excerpt)
Mar 24 & 25 - Sunrise (original Movietone/Riesenfeld score on track)
Apr 7 & 8 - The Passion of Joan of Arc
Apr 14 & 15 - French Avant-Garde film program
Apr 21 & 22 - Kino Pravda / Man With a Movie Camera
Apr 28 & 29 - Chess Fever / Storm Over Asia