Harkening back to the era of silent film, as part of The Riverside Church's annual Summer Organ Series, alongside a screening of Cecil B. DeMille's epic 1927 silent film King of Kings, renowned organist David Briggs will improvise the film's score on the second largest instrument in New York City-The Riverside Church organ-tonight, July 31 at 7:00 p.m. in the Nave, 490 Riverside Drive (bet. 120th & 122nd St.), Morningside Heights.
Differing from free improvisation, Briggs' performance requires composed, continuous music from the beginning to the end of the film, which is about the last weeks of Jesus before his crucifixion. The film, the visual stimulus, provides the form and shape, unlike free improvisation where the performer decides the form.
This improvisation marks Briggs' 54th performance of King of Kings and although each performance uses similar musical elements, they all differ due to the influence of the particular instrument on the development of those musical elements. The type of instrument makes a huge difference to improvisation and the resulting performance, making it interesting and new each time. "When it is done well the audience forgets that it is listening to the organ and becomes involved in the story on the screen. It is a multi-media experience," said Briggs.
The Annual Summer Organ Series is part of Riverside's continuing commitment to provide diverse and culturally rich programs to the community, featuring six concerts throughout the summer, every Tuesday, now through August 7. Each concert is performed on The Riverside Church organ, a 206-rank Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ-the second largest instrument in New York City, with over 12,000 pipes.
Prior to the concert, at 6:30 p.m. audiences will also have the chance to enjoy an incredible recital performed on one of the most famous carillons in the world-the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Carillon. The carillon's centerpiece, the Bourdon Bell-weighing 20 tons-is the world's largest and heaviest tuned bell ever cast. Its smallest bell weighs ten pounds. Featuring 74 bells in total, in terms of physical size and weight (over 100 tons), the Riverside carillon has never been surpassed.
Tickets are available at the door and are $20 for adults and $15 for senior citizens/students. The final performance of the series will take place on August 7, featuring David Davies, Assistant Organist, Exeter Cathedral, UK, performing works by Langlais, Howells, Sowerby and Liszt. For additional information the public can call 212-870-6721 or visit http://www.theriversidechurchny.org/.