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FLEFF Intern Voices

The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view

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Posted by Shea Lynch at 5:25PM
New CD, TV Trio

Blog posting written by Shea Lynch, Documentary Studies '14, FLEFF Intern, Glens Falls, New York


I had the great privilege of interviewing Canadian jazz pianist John Stetch about his live performance during the FLEFF Week silent film event, The Last Laugh

You will be playing piano during FLEFF Week's screening of The Last Laugh, tell us a little about the creative process you undergo.

The music that I'll be playing is all improvised. I'll allude to the period of the film occasionally so there will be some stylistic references to early jazz. But if it were only that, it would sound boring for the whole movie, and I might run out of ideas. So, I also go with the moment, and play modern-day piano sounds that reflect the action and images of the film. 

How long have you been performing for silent films? 

I've played several over the last few years but this one is the first solo piano performance. The nice thing about silent films is that many different bands and musicians will all interpret the same film in their own personal way. Because of that, there are infinite combinations and results for a limited amount of vintage silent films. It is also an opportunity for me to play a concert that's quite different than my normal line of work: by improvising to an inspiring film. The overall package for the audience is more accessible and engaging than just an all-audio concert.

The theme of FLEFF is Checkpoints, ideas coming together. How does the piano and the silent film represent the FLEFF theme? 

Sometimes there are sections in the film with either no action, or sections where images are inconsistently changing and unpredictably contrasting to each other, so part of my job is to provide a steadily flowing, forward-moving backdrop to tie these visible images together, provide a steady undercurrent and help make the audio link to the present.

What do you wish the audience can get out of this performance? 

I think its a chance to see a collaborative, creative process happen in real-time; they can even have fun imagining 'what would I play if I were a pianist at this moment'. And thank goodness we are going to have a real acoustic piano in Cinemapolis, thanks to Don McKechnie at Ithaca College Piano Services.

The Last Laugh will be screened Friday, April 15 at Cinemapolis. SAVE THE DATE!

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