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Strings Music Festival: Music brings silent films to life

Cristin Frey

— As many kids do growing up, I thought I could have only one of four careers: a doctor, a fireman, a cowgirl or "someone who picks the songs for movies."

Like all industries, there was a pioneer who paved the way for our dreams, and luckily for me, someone in Paris in 1895 decided that silent films should be accompanied by piano. Films needed more emotion, and music was the answer. Or maybe it was a dire need of something that could drown out the noise made by the projector. And so the industry grew to include organists then orchestras and eventually full-blown scores and soundtracks. Imagine “Star Wars” without a score or the final dogfight scene in “Top Gun” with no soundtrack. This week at Strings Music Festival, we go back to the beginning with silent films accompanied by improv piano.

Martin Marks, a real film expert and one of North America's pre-eminent authorities on music for silent film will be speaking at the at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Bud Werner Memorial Library. Marks is a music historian and pianist, an expert in film music and the author of “Music and the Silent Film.” He also will perform live piano accompaniment to legendary travel films from 1898 to 1920 Wednesday night at Strings Music Festival.

Wednesday's program also features Copland's “Appalachian Spring” performed by the Strings Festival musicians, brought to life by projections of the Yampa Valley taken by Steamboat's top photographers.

Strings also welcomes back two-time Grammy winner and extraordinary vocalist Kathy Mattea, who is performing an evening of acoustic-based country and folk music to a sold-out crowd Friday .

The last Strings Festival Orchestra performance of the summer is Saturday night with special guest Nicolò Spera on classical guitar. He performs Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez for Guitar and Orchestra. Also on the program is Copland's Three Latin American Sketches and Beethoven's Symphony No. 4.

Cristin Frey is the marketing director for Strings Music Festival.