When it comes to music, timing is everything.
In Rick Benjamin’s experience — which includes a Juilliard education and nearly three decades as the director of the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra — it can take audiences a little while to acclimate to film scores with an early 1900s bouquet.
This is something worth bearing in mind if you’ve made plans to visit the Rowland Theatre at 7 p.m. this Saturday, where Benjamin and his band will be supplying a live soundtrack to three otherwise silent short films highlighting the antics of comedians Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Larry Semon.
Rick was kind enough to fit us into their schedule for our centennial last year, and we are very excited about this year's show. The silent films and music will be different, and he is throwing in a few surprises.
Rebecca Inlow, Rowland board member
Should the irrepressibly peppy quality of the score strike you as antiquated, if you think that unbridled good cheer has no place in a modern society, or you’re under the impression that elevator music has just ruined it for everyone, maybe give the tunes some time.
About 90 seconds, if you can spare — at least that’s the rule Benjamin has found to hold true.
“Within about a minute and a half, they like it,” Benjamin said.
The PRO’s latest trip to the Rowland marks nearly a year since the group first visited the historic Philipsburg movie palace.
Superficially, at least, the pairing makes sense — because, you know, old stuff.
“Rick was kind enough to fit us into their schedule for our centennial last year, and we are very excited about this year’s show. The silent films and music will be different, and he is throwing in a few surprises,” Rebecca Inlow, a Rowland board member, said.
What Benjamin and company do could loosely be described as a form of musical time travel, a journey back to good vibes and simpler times, where the musical arrangers on the block weren’t afraid to hit a cue square in the face.
Sometimes you’re surprised at the choices that the composers or the musical compilers made hundreds of years ago.
Even Benjamin, who presides over a collection of antique theater and dance orchestra scores that is 20,000 titles deep, occasionally has trouble wrapping his noggin around the differences.
“Sometimes you’re surprised at the choices that the composers or the musical compilers made hundreds of years ago,” Benjamin said.
Surprises aren’t always bad, though.
Benjamin intended for Paragon to be a breath of fresh — well, fresh-ish — air from another era, what he believes to be one of the last moments in American history where popular music was expected to be uplifting.
“It was expressing how delighted you were to be alive,” Benjamin said.
IF YOU GO
- What: Paragon Ragtime Orchestra
- When: 7 p.m. Saturday
- Where: Rowland Theatre, 125 N. Front St., Philipsburg
- Info: paragonragtime.com