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V-Day Screening To Feature ‘Not-So-Silent Film’ ‘Girl Shy’

Feb. 4, 2014
SHSU Media Contact: Emily Binetti

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Two Star Symphony
Two Star Symphony, a Houston-based ensemble, created their own soundtrack to the 1924 romantic comedy Girl Shy. They will perform as the silent film plays on Feb. 14 in the Gaertner Performing Arts Center. —Submitted photos

Those who have watched a classic silent film accompanied by live music say it’s an experience like no other.

Silent cinema of the 1920s was almost never silent; cinemas were, in fact, rather loud places where music, voices and sound effects intermingled during a performance.

Sam Houston State University’s College of Fine Arts and Mass Communication will recreate that experience, connecting live music and classic cinema as Two Star Symphony performs their original soundtrack to the silent film Girl Shy on Friday (Feb. 14).

The Valentine’s Day Silent Film Concert will begin at 8 p.m. in the James and Nancy Gaertner Performing Arts Center.

When silent films began, they almost always featured live music, starting with the very first public projection of movies by the Lumière Brothers in 1895 Paris, according to Two Star violinist Jerry Ochoa.

image from the film Girl Shy
An image from the film Girl Shy, starring Harold Lloyd.

“Music in a silent film was vital in order to humanize the images on screen, to cover the noise of the projectors and provide continuity between scenes,” Ochoa said. “Small-town and neighborhood movie theaters usually had a pianist, and beginning in the mid-1910s, large city theaters began featuring organists or music ensembles. Massive theater organs had the capability of simulating a variety of sounds, from cymbals to rolling thunder to galloping horses.”

Houston’s Two Star Symphony, a unique instrumental ensemble, has created their own soundtrack to the 1924 romantic comedy and will perform the score live for the Valentine’s Day event.

The music, a fresh new approach, quite unlike what might have been played decades earlier, provides a modern way of introducing a classic art form to new generations, according to Two Star violinist Debra Brown.

“Our aim is to create new and diverse music that speaks to the collective conscience of a broad audience, with music evoking starkly sketched imagery: a drunken pirate walks the plank, a black cat turns and hisses, a poisoned apple is offered, and goblins attack,” Brown said.

Under commission from the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and Houston’s downtown park Discovery Green, Two Star Symphony has created and performed a series of original scores to classic silent films using a collaborative approach in composing.

“We work differently than most classical ensembles in that every member is also a composer,” Brown said. “Songs are written and arranged live as a group, with each player responsible for his or her own parts.”

Girl Shy features the famous 1920’s comedian film actor Harold Lloyd, who plays a shy bachelor working in a tailor shop and writing a romance guidebook for other bashful men.

Fate has him meet the girl of his dreams, and they fall in love. When it’s discovered that she is planned to marry another man the shy bachelor embarks upon a hair-raising daredevil ride to prevent the wedding.

Few modern moviegoers have had the chance to enjoy Lloyd’s distinctively delightful brand of comedy, but in the silent era he was one of its biggest stars, according to Ochoa.

Girl Shy is a true example of Lloyd’s genius for comedic action. The race-against-time sequence that is the climax of the film later served as an inspiration for films like the chariot race in Ben-Hur,” he said. “Lloyd lived up to his daredevil reputation by performing the majority of his own stunts.

“During a particularly dangerous stunt involving a speeding fire engine and a rapidly unspooling fire hose, he was knocked out cold by the heavy brass hose nozzle,” Ochoa continued. “As soon as he had regained consciousness, he got up and did it again.”

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at shsu.edu/boxoffice or by phone at 936.294.2339.



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