Pianist to Provide Live Musical Accompaniment to The Mark of Zorro

Pianist and silent-film accompanist Ben Model

Pianist and silent-film accompanist Ben Model

(NEW MARLBOROUGH, Mass.) – Music & More will re-create the experience of watching a silent film with live musical accompaniment on Saturday, August 13, at 8, at the historic Meeting House on the Village Green, where Ben Model, resident silent film accompanist of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, will provide a synchronous performance of completely improvised music to Douglas Fairbanks’ The Mark of Zorro.

Attendees will experience silent film just as it was presented in its heyday, with live piano accompaniment composed and performed by Model, who has been the resident silent film accompanist for the MoMA for the past 27 years. Model caters his performance to the audience by improvising all music played during the event, while staying true to the traditions set by silent films nearly a century ago.

“It’s the experience of silent film that makes it special,” Model said. “I keep the musical palette limited to what people would have heard in the 1920s in terms of both classical and popular idiom and I never use recognizable music.

“I am very aware of the audience during a show and sense the vibe in the room and adjust the score as needed. The fact that the music is live and unique at every show makes the experience of silent film unlike any other and, in some ways, more exciting for an audience.”

Released in 1920 and co-written and co-produced by its star, Fairbanks, The Mark of Zorro set a new standard in silent film with its appealing blend of romance, comedy and swordplay, and is the origin of every Zorro movie and TV show that’s been released since.

“Douglas Fairbanks was probably one of the biggest movie stars of the silent era. He’s funny and athletic and you just plain like him when he shows up on screen,” Model said. “Fairbanks got the rights to a short story [“The Curse of the Capistrano” by Johnston McCulley] and added a few things to it – the signature carving of the letter ‘Z’ with his sword and the dual identity of wealthy young man and daring masked crime-fighter were Fairbanks’ ideas, for example.”

Zorro is also largely credited with redefining the swashbuckler action-adventure genre, paving the way for such films as The Three Musketeers and Robin Hood and, according to some, providing the inspiration for Bruce Wayne’s Batman persona.

A wine reception will follow the screening and performance in the Meeting House Gallery. Admission is $10/$7. Please visit Music & More or call 413.229.2785 for tickets, discounts and information.

Directed and founded by Harold Lewin, Music and More presents distinguished writers, musicians, actors, and classic films. This year, its 20th anniversary, Music and More brings eight events to the historic Meeting House in New Marlborough, Mass. Please visit Music & More or call 413.229.2785 for further information. Music and More is sponsored by the New Marlborough Village Association.




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