Organist to Recreate the Silent Movie Era Oct. 22

Oct. 9, 1996

by Richard Veit

As a general rule, silent movies were never really silent. A theater organist or pianist would improvise a musical score to accompany the action on screen.

That is what Tom Cotner will do for his audience on Tuesday, Oct. 22, as the American Guild of Organists and Baylor University School of Music present the classic 1925 film by Universal Pictures, "Phantom of the Opera." This special screening will take place at 8 p.m. in Roxy Grove Hall.

Cotner, who has performed regularly at Oklahoma City's annual Halloween event, "Symphony of Horrors," is a specialist in the genre of theater organ performance. A former student of Dr. Nita Akin of Wichita Falls, he is the owner and operator of Cotner Pipe Organs of Martha, Okla.

The music that Cotner has selected for this screening of "Phantom of the Opera" draws heavily upon themes from Charles Gounod's opera "Faust," which is the principal opera used in the staging of the movie. In addition, original themes are used, as well as typical silent movie accompanimental motifs, as brought together and improvised upon by the organist.

This famous silent version of "Phantom of the Opera" stars Lon Chaney as a vengeful composer who lives in the catacombs of the Paris Opéra, kidnapping the young Christine Daae (played by Mary Philbin) as his new protégé.

Tickets for "Phantom of the Opera" are on sale at the Bill Daniel Student Center box office on the Baylor campus. They also are being sold by members of the American Guild of Organists. Tickets are priced at $5 for adults and $3 for children under the age of twelve.

For more information on this special showing of "Phantom of the Opera," you may call the Baylor School of Music at 755-3991.

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