(scroll down for photos…) Sharing accompaniment duties with Phil Carli at the Fall Cinesation every year is one way I stay fresh as an accompanist. Listening to someone else's playing – especially someone whose style and philosophy mirrors mine – helps me push the boundaries of my own scoring vocabulary. Listening to myself all the time is not the easiest way to self-improve, although I'm always on my own case about this, and this is one of the things I like about playing silent film festivals.
This year I used the Miditzer for nearly all the shows I played, and playing the organ for two shows/films a day for a few days for the same audience is another good way to expand the vocabulary. You 're aware that everyone in the house has heard your music already – often just a few hours previous – and so the impetus to avoid repeating what have become your own stock phrases is even greater.
The Cinesation is a great festival, with variable-speed 35mm and 16mm at all shows, and lots of archival prints plus rare collectors' titles. My favorite draw of the fest – all shows take place in Massillon's original 1915 Triangle movie theater (saved from the wrecking ball a few decades ago by the local Lion's club) and not in a hotel ballroom. When you watch vintage films in a vintage cinema, the light from the screen illuminates the proscenium and walls and you are aware, while watching a film, of the space you're in.
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