Old Movies, New Tunes: Composer Ben Model to Bring Four Classics to The Egyptian Saturday 

click to enlarge Ben Model will perform on the organ at Boise Philharmonic Presents: Silent Movies With Orchestra.

Harrison Berry

Ben Model will perform on the organ at Boise Philharmonic Presents: Silent Movies With Orchestra.

For as long as he can remember, Ben Model has loved silent movies.

"Some kids like trucks or trains," he said. "For me, it was Charlie Chaplin."

Model grew up to become one of the greatest champions of the medium. For more than three decades he has written and performed scores for hundreds of silent films. He is also the resident film accompanist at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, as well as with the Library of Congress Packard Campus Theatre. His production and distribution company dusts off aging silent films on celluloid and converts them to a digital format.

Model travels extensively to educate and perform, which is what will bring him to the Egyptian Theatre on Saturday, Feb. 17, for Silent Movies with Orchestra, a presentation of four silent films accompanied by live music composed by Model and performed by members of the Boise Philharmonic. The films include Buster Keaton's One Week (1920), Laurel and Hardy's Wrong Again (1929), Oh! What a Day (1918) featuring comedian Marcel Perez and Number, Please? (1920) starring Harold Lloyd.

Part of Model's passion for silent films comes from what he calls "audience preservation." At the dawn of the medium, films were screened in movie palaces and set to live music. Silent Movies with Orchestra will reintroduce audiences to the century-old tradition of going to the movies.

"You're really experiencing what people experienced 90 years ago," Model said. "Silent film is an experience as well as a form of cinema."

Performing at the Egyptian Theatre, he said, an important element for moviegoers. The downtown cinema has a classic Pharaonic motif, and has one of two theater organs in the Gem Stateā€”a working 1927 Robert Morton Theatre Pipe Organ, which Model will play Saturday evening.

"Playing in a historic venue is icing on the cake," Model said.

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