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The Parish of St. Philip’s, Dunbar presented two memorable evenings of entertainment, Oct 28 and 29. Just in time for Hallowe’en, St. Philips' Organist and Director of Music, Michael Murray provided scary organ music as the live soundtrack for the classic silent film, The Phantom of the Opera (1924) starring Lon Chaney.

When asked about the experience, Michael said:

“I played a whole bunch of different pieces to create an atmosphere of suspense and levity. Everything from Pop Goes the Weasel to Ride of the Valkyries. The film is both scary and has corny moments too. I was making a soundscape that could be flexible and spontaneous. For example I had lots of pieces to play in a particular order but I might have abandoned them to play what occurred to me in the moment. Sometimes the Phantom sits at the organ in his dungeon and would play for a while, so I would play something that might be funny for example Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John or more serious like Opening by Philip Glass.

The audience had a great time and they went home buzzing. I received a standing ovation and was feeling tired but definitely could have played it again. It is great to be able to draw on this old tradition of music for silent movies.”  

The art of playing piano or organ during the early years of movies was halted when films became ’Talkies”.

The parish is presenting A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens at the church, December 18 @ 7pm. The dramatic reading will feature CBC talent with audience carols.


Michael Murray at the organ

Article and Photo: Submitted