Chautauqua Lecture: Silent Movie Scoring

 Thursday, September 2, 2021 
10:30am-12:00pm  
Hoover Auditorium

Join renown organist Clark Wilson for a special presentation on the music behind the silent films.

The program will encompass historical and performance highlights on the art of scoring silent film, as were presented in movie houses throughout the country in the 1920s. Included will be a short demonstration of the Hoover Auditorium organ, and the background of silent film in general and the movie palaces will be touched on. Anyone interested in a casual introduction to the classic silent cinema should attend this seminar, which will give a better understanding of the techniques involved in lending voice to Friday evening's featured Buster Keaton comedy.

Featured Organist Clark Wilson

A native of Ohio, Clark Wilson began his musical training at age nine. While growing up he accompanied numerous stage musicals and was organist at several churches. At this time he was listed in “Who’s Who in the Midwest” and “Men of Achievement”. He also holds Life Member status in the International Tri-M Music Honor Society and is listed in “Who’s Who in Executives and Professionals”.

Following several years with the Schantz Organ Company as a reed voicer and tonal finisher, Clark’s professional playing career began with his appointment to the featured organist post at Pipe Organ Pizza in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He has since been on the playing staffs at the Paramount Music Palace in Indianapolis, Indiana, Pipes and Pizza in Lansing, Illinois, and is currently associated with Organ Stop Pizza in Mesa, Arizona, where he is on the organ staff as well as having assisted with the planning and installation of the world’s largest Wurlitzer organ.

Clark’s recording credits include seven albums. He has given all-transcription recitals for the AGO, played for the 1990 Organ Historical Society convention, and performed at numerous National and Regional conventions of the ATOS, as well as giving a series of highly lauded workshops for young people’s Pipe Organ Encounters. Considered one of the finest practitioners of the art of silent picture scoring, he has also been a visiting lecturer on Theatre Organ and photoplay accompaniment for the Indiana University organ department. He has now developed curriculum and has been appointed to the organ faculty at the University of Oklahoma's Organ Department, where he teaches applied theatre organ lessons, silent film scoring, and the history of the American theatre organ. He has concertized in the United States, Canada, Australia, and England, and done extensive silent film accompaniment, including at the Chautauqua Institution in New York, the Packard Foundation’s Stanford Theatre, UCLA, and the Fox Theatre for the Atlanta premier of the restored “Metropolis”. He plays a silent picture annually on the organ series at LA’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, has scored for Kino International for commercial release, and has performed at both the Cinequest and San Francisco Silent Film Festivals, as well as for the Los Angeles Conservancy. Since 1992 Clark has served as Resident Organist and organ conservator at the famed Ohio Theatre in Columbus, Ohio (for the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts) and was chosen by them to repremier the renowned Chicago Theatre Organ on a bill that included him accompanying popular singer Michael Feinstein. He also headed the professional crew that began restoration on the Chicago’s landmark Wurlitzer for CAPA.

Along with a busy concert schedule, Wilson runs his own pipe organ business and is heavily in demand as a tonal consultant and finisher of both theatre and classical pipe organs; he has been given the singular honor of being brought to England multiple times for tonal finishing and consulting. He has received both the Technician of the Year and Organist of the Year awards from the American Theatre Organ Society, the only person to have done so, and his time is now nearly equally divided between concert and technical work. He has been professionally involved with more than 100 organ installations throughout North America and England and has provided consulting and voicing expertise for several different organ companies.


September 2021
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