Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


January 30, 2014

Silent no more

Noted organist to accompany 'The General'

Silent, but has music.

Huh, you say?

The unique art form mixes the showing of a silent film with an accompanying organ performance. And it’s happening this Saturday night, Feb. 1, at Christ Church in Andover.

The classic Buster Keaton silent film, “The General,” will be shown while noted silent film organist-accompanist Peter Krasinski plays on the church’s new C.B. Fisk organ.

Barbara Bruns, Christ Church’s organist and music director, said the organist-accompanist for silent films provided background, mostly improvised, sometimes with known tunes, to enhance the action and the mood of the actors on the screen.

“It is a rare and subtle art; it requires close knowledge of the film, the music of the period, command of the organ and of musical expression in a wide variety of nuance,” Bruns said. “Especially, it requires the imagination and musical sensitivity to bring the audience into closer communication with the expression seen on the actors’ faces and in their actions.”

Released in 1926, “The General” is recognized as one of the great silent films. The sound track would come a few years later.

Krasinski’s take on the movie’s sound track promises to be memorable and enjoyable.

“When I accompany a film, I first visually memorize it and later consider what musical ideas would work best with the central line, the characters, the action, the locations and the many other details of the film,” Krasinski said in a statement. “By the time of the performance, the music is all about flow and completely improvised ... the music is organically created as the story unfolds.”

Well-known nationally and in the Boston area, Krasinski has undergraduate and graduate degrees from Boston University. In 2002, he won first prize in improvisation in the American Guild Organists National Competition and was the featured artist at its 2004 convention in Los Angeles.

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