FARMINGTON – On Sunday, Oct. 19, the Arts Institute of Western Maine will present Doug Protsik playing his original piano score to the silent movie version of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

The film will be shown at 7 p.m. in Lincoln Auditorium at the Learning Center on the University of Maine at Farmington campus.

Doug Protsik has been performing old-time piano for more than 30 years, both as a solo artist and with bands such as The Old Grey Goose and the Maine Country Dance Orchestra. He learned the style and technique from piano players here in Maine – the elderly folks who played for dances, Grange meetings and radio programs – and from silent movies.

The old-time style became unfashionable in the 1930s, but interest was re-established in the early 1970s from the Scott Joplin ragtime music of the popular movie “The Sting.”

Old-time piano – basically an extension of the solo bar room/dance hall piano style developed in the mid-19th century – encompasses elements of traditional dance music, ragtime, folk music, classical music and early jazz.

It is sometimes referred to as the “stride” style, with the all-important left hand striding across the bass end to provide solid bass and rhythm for the melodies and harmonies of the right hand.

This style was in its heyday when the first silent movies were developed, and a tradition of using these elements to accompany the films was established.

Protsik learned the art of putting together a score appropriate for silent movies from Danny Patt, who first played for the movies while growing up in Union. Patt’s talent for this music was re-established in the 1980s with renewed public interest in old silent movies. Protsik is continuing this tradition of accompaniment and has scored and performed for numerous showings.

Using old sheet music from the late Patt’s collection, and researching the Bagaduce Music Lending Library in Blue Hill, his scores attempt to capture the unique flavor of the music as it embellishes the action on screen – in an original and authentic way.

Since its publication in 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s abolitionist novel has had enormous success, with epic stage productions performed across America for 75 years. This silent film epic was an effort to bridge this tradition with the new medium of film, resulting in an extravagant historical drama and, at a cost of $1.8 million, was one of the most expensive films of the silent era.

Although some of the characterizations may appear derogatory to modern audiences, the 1927 film was considered groundbreaking for its pure sympathetic treatment of African-Americans caught in the turbulent nightmare of slavery.

Admission will be $6 at the door, $3 for those under 13. The film’s running time is 112 minutes. For more information, call 778-4699.


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