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Organ recital set to bring original Phantom of the Opera silent film to life

On Oct. 30, St. Paul’s United Church will offer a unique cinema experience with a twist.

The classic 1925 silent film The Phantom of the Opera will be screened and accompanied by a live, improvised organ recital.

Produced by Dr. Sharon Pond, the event, titled “A Silent Haunting,” will begin at 7 p.m. with internationally-recognized organist David Drinkell playing the 70-year-old Casavant organ as the lights dim and the movie credits start to roll.

“The difference is amazing,” said Pond. “Just watching the silent film without sound is boring, and then when [David Drinkell] puts the organ accompaniment behind it, [the sound] brings all the nuances of the movie to life.”

In 2012, Pond went to a convention in Portland, Maine, where 15 international organists from all genres performed in a concert and then offered workshops and taught master classes. One of them was on theatre organ playing, where they showed a silent film with organ accompaniment; she was amazed and started looking into fusing the organ with other types of art.

“I thought [this] would be a wonderful thing to do in Fredericton,” she said. Five years later, she is producing “A Silent Haunting” to showcase the organ in innovative ways.

She first dabbled in playing the organ in 1974 and became hooked; since then, she dedicated long hours to practice—and for the last 12 years, she has been traveling around the country participating in organ recitals.

“The organ is the hardest instrument that I’ve ever played—but it is absolutely the best. I can’t describe how you feel; I can’t put it in words… there’s so much power in it. You can go from the softest sound to the loudest, where you can feel the vibrations through your whole body,” she said.

She hopes the event inspires people to recognize the organ as a flexible instrument great for recitals.

The event will be on Monday, Oct. 30, at 7:00 p.m in St. Paul’s Church, 224 York Street. The movie is one hour and 46 minutes long with an intermission. The event will offer soft drinks and popcorn and is free of charge, but “there’s a free will offering to support the music program at St. Paul’s Church so [we] can do other events like this in the future,” Dr. Pond said.

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