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Orchestra brings silent films to life

DUNCAN — Comedic scenes from classic silent films will come to life Friday evening, thanks to the festive sounds of a traveling professional orchestra.

The Chisholm Trail Arts Council will host the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra as part of the 2019-20 CTAC Live Concert Series at the Simmons Center Theater.

Throughout the evening, three silent films will be accompanied by their original orchestral scores, which 12 instrumentalists will play live, with sound effects.

The three films are:

• “One Week,” a 1920 film featuring Buster Keaton and Sybil Seeley, starring as newlyweds who receive a portable house as a wedding gift. When they try to construct it, things quickly go awry.

• “Get Out and Get Under,” a 1920 film featuring Harold Lloyd, who plays an actor who will lose his part to a rival if he fails to make it to the theater on time. Car trouble and more prove significant obstacles in his journey.

• “The Pawnshop,” a 1916 film featuring Charlie Chaplin, who competes with his fellow shop assistant, nearly destroying everything in the shop — and himself.

Rick Benjamin is in his 34th season as founder and artistic director of the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, the world’s only year-round, professional ensemble re-creating the syncopated sounds of early musical theater, silent cinema and vintage dance.

In 1985, Benjamin discovered thousands of turn-of-the-century orchestra scores once belonging to Victrola recording star Arthur Pryor. In 1988, the Orchestra made its formal debut at Alice Tully Hall, the first concert ever presented at Lincoln Center by such an ensemble.

For Benjamin, it’s a joy to breathe new life into some of the earliest creations of American filmmakers.

The Lawton Constitution

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