The Exchange Arts and The Bloomsburg Singers will present an unusual event, a performance of the science-fiction silent film masterpiece “Metropolis,” with live, improvised organ accompaniment by world-renowned musical artist Peter Krasinski and choral selections by The Bloomsburg Singers. The event will be held Saturday, April 23, at 7:30 p.m., at Wesley United Methodist Church of Bloomsburg, 130 West 3rd St.
“Metropolis” is a 1927 German science-fiction film directed by well-known expressionist filmmaker Fritz Lang. It is a pioneering film of the science-fiction genre and one of the first feature-length science fiction films ever made. “Metropolis” explores themes related to class struggles in a dystopian future and is recognized to this day for its astonishing imagery, with awe-inspiring sets, robots and dystopian machinery, class warfare, and more.
Cody Mead is the Director of Music at Wesley United Methodist Church and Founding Director of The Bloomsburg Singers, an auditioned community choir of 35 singers, specializing in a diverse array of high-quality choral repertoire. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for The Exchange Arts, which is cosponsoring this event.
The primary musical performer for this event will be Peter Krasinski, a world-acclaimed musician from the Boston area and one of the world’s leading experts on organ improvisation and silent film accompaniment. Mead and Krasinski organized a similar presentation of silent film with music when they presented the 1927 film “King of Kings” in Newport, Rhode Island in 2018.
“Peter provided live, improvised organ accompaniment, and choral music was provided by a children’s choir and professional singers from the Boston/Providence metropolitan area,” Mead said. “Since I moved to Bloomsburg in 2020, I have wanted to organize a similar presentation in this area.”
A conductor, organist, and music educator, Krasinski is internationally celebrated for his performances creating compositions in real time for cinematic masterpieces in world famous venues. He is an award-winning improviser who has presented silent films with live, improvised organ accompaniment across North America, Europe, and Asia, including seven tours of Japan. Krasinski is the House Organist of the Providence Performing Arts Center in Providence, RI, past Dean of the Boston Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, and he has presented master classes in improvisation at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland.
“Peter’s talent as an improviser is, frankly, difficult to describe,” Mead said. “Peter spontaneously produces a polished and emotionally convincing soundtrack to a silent film; listeners may find it hard to believe that what they are hearing is an improvisation. On the spot, Peter can ‘make up’ music that sounds as though it were written by one of the master composers. He’s really a musical genius — and I don’t use that word lightly.”
Krasinski said the process of preparing for his performances has developed over decades.
“It includes memorization of the film itself, an intimate knowledge of the venue and the instrument (in this case a large and powerful pipe organ) upon which the accompaniment is to be created, and an openness of the performer to the time, place, and audience which will share in the event itself,” he said. “The audience becomes an integral part of the performance and a live shared experience that those attending will recall for years after the event.”
This German photo play, Krasinski said, has been the source of so much in our artistic and popular culture. But the root philosophy of the film, the epigram, continues to become only more relevant as history unfolds. “The mediator between the HEAD and the HANDS must be the HEART.”
“It’s not hard to find relevant commentary in this film regarding subjects such as classism, irresponsible leadership, human rights, and more,” Krasinski said. “At the same time, the film is an imaginative and entertaining production in many ways unparalleled.”
This presentation of “Metropolis” will highlight the talents of area artists and musicians. When audience members arrive at 7 p.m., they will enter the church through a “pop-up” art show titled “Truth, Fiction, and Robots,” featuring a myriad of artworks by local artists inspired by the film. The screening of “Metropolis” at 8 p.m. will be preceded by a 25-minute choral overture at 7:30 by The Bloomsburg Singers and talented student singers from Bloomsburg University.
“What you will experience as a live participant in this event will be unique – although the visual film is a static art form, unchanging and always the same,” Krasinski said. “The live musical accompaniment is improvised and is therefore always fluid and organic.”
“I hope that those in attendance will experience an artistically rich presentation that celebrates great film, music, and the visual arts,” Mead said,” and highlights the tremendous talent of local musicians and artists alongside a headlining performer of worldwide renown.”
“The art of silent movie accompaniment is a rare but much cherished tradition in the United States,” Krasinski said, “and I am pleased to present this most unique version of it to you.”
This event is free, and a suggested donation of $20 supports The Exchange Arts and The Bloomsburg Singers.