Swashbuckling will be set to live music when the Glacier Symphony presents one of the earliest adventure silent movies, "The Mark of Zorro," starring Douglas Fairbanks, on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 24 and 25, in Whitefish and Kalispell.
The Glacier Symphony will accompany the movie with an original score written by silent film enthusiast Rick Friend, who will perform on piano for the concert.
"The Mark of Zorro" tells the story of Don Diego Vega, son of a wealthy ranchero in the old Spanish California of the early 19th century. Seeing the mistreatment of the peons by rich landowners and the oppressive colonial government, Don Diego, takes on the identity of Señor Zorro (“Mr. Fox”) a masked Robin Hood-like rogue and champion of the people. Zorro appears out of nowhere to protect them from the corrupt administration of Governor Alvarado, his henchman the villainous Captain Juan Ramon and the brutish Sergeant Pedro Gonzales. With his sword flashing and an athletic sense of humor, Zorro scars the faces of evildoers with his mark, “Z."
Rick Friend studied piano and composition at the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music. A childhood movie buff, he became interested in silent movies in high school where the silence made him curious to improvise on the piano during the film. In his never-ending passion for live music for silent movies of the 1920s, his favorite venue is the symphony orchestra with its infinite variety of colors that depict moods and feelings.
“What I do first is to watch the full movie. This leaves me with an overall mood from which I get musical ideas. Using this mood as a background idea, I first write themes for the individual characters (since characters are the most important part of the story), and then I write for scene after scene,” Friend says.
He says that "Zorro" was easy to write for.
“It is such an appealing story, and Zorro's devil-may-care character is irresistible. Courage is not being without fear, but it is acting in the presence of fear. We all try to aspire to that. However, Zorro actually has no fear, and that's what makes us want to escape into his world, and what makes me want to watch his escapades - barging into the hacienda of the woman he wants to win, laughing at danger, even laughing at his enemies when they fight. All this made writing a score to 'The Mark of Zorro' such a pleasure.”
Friend has created movie orchestra scores to a host of silent films including "The General" with Buster Keaton, "The Phantom of the Opera" with Lon Chaney, "The Thief of Bagdad" and the horror classic "Nosferatu." He has performed with numerous orchestras around the U.S. and Canada and his mission is to bring back the art-form of live music with silent movies.
Music director John Zoltek says the concert will be a delightful addition to the traditional classical concert repertoire. “It is a great demonstration of how classical music has been used over the decades to illustrate emotion and storytelling.”
The family-friendly concerts will be held on Saturday, Jan. 24, 7:30 p.m. at Whitefish Performing Arts Center and Sunday, Jan. 25, 3 p.m. at Flathead High Performance Hall. Tickets are available in a range of prices and seating tiers starting at $5 for youth through grade 12. Purchase tickets online at gscmusic.org or by calling the GSC Box Office, 407-7000 located at 69 N. Main St. in Kalispell.