Quiet, please! Chautauqua Silent Film Series marries motion pictures and music

The official start of summer is still a week away, but for film fans it really begins tonight at Chautauqua Auditorium in Boulder, when the Chautauqua Silent Film Series kicks off its 27th year.

In a long-standing collaboration with the Silent Film Trio, Hank Troy and the Mont-Alto Motion Picture Orchestra -- which will sound off during tonight's feature, The Gaucho -- Chautauqua has spent almost three decades celebrating pre-talkie movies, and sharing them with a multi-generational audience.

This season's theme centers on the crazy things that people do for love, starting with a 1927 film featuring Douglas Fairbanks flexing his machismo and might for the affections of many women.

"We try to come up with a theme that ties the films together, along with choosing films of artistic merit," says Ann Obenchain, Chautauqua's marketing and development director. The musicians are an invaluable resource when it comes to finding the right motion pictures for each season, she notes; pianists Hank Troy and Rodney Sauer have each created musical scores for hundreds of silent films, and have a vast knowledge of the genre.

The two musicians also act as hosts for the showings, sharing backstories and additional information about each film as well as improvising (with their respective acts0 much of the music as the movie rolls along.

The Chautauqua Silent Film Series runs Wednesday nights through August 8. The programs, which start at 7:30 p.m., each include a feature-length motion picture with musical accompaniment, as well as a short film. Tonight's bonus mini-feature is Georges Melies' 1903 film The Kingdom of the Fairies.

Tickets are $6 to $12 and can be purchased in-person at the auditorium, online or by calling 303-442-3282. For a complete schedule, visit Chautauqua's website.

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