Ipswich: Ip-art’s Silent Cinema pianist breaks silence

Silent Cinema pianist Wendy Hiscocks returns to Ip-art.

Silent Cinema pianist Wendy Hiscocks returns to Ip-art. - Credit: Archant

Travel back to the Golden Age of Comedy at this year’s Ip-art Silent Cinema.

Buster Keaton in Steamboat Bill Junior

Buster Keaton in Steamboat Bill Junior - Credit: Archant

The Floorwalker (1916) sees Charlie Chaplin entangled in a nefarious scheme to embezzle money from a department story. Steamboat Bill Junior (1928), starring Buster Keaton, sees paddle steamer captain William “Steamboat Bill” Canfield eagerly awaiting the arrival of his college student son whom he has not seen since the lad was a baby.

Proving live piano accompaniment is Wendy Hiscocks, who has tickled the ivories for about 100 films over the last three years.

“It is a lot of fun but it requires a lot of physical and mental strength… it’s a very unique platform. There’s really nothing like it because you have no score. It (playing for silent film) is definitely a passion,” says the composer pianist.

Silent film demands a lot more styles, with Wendy switching straight from jazz to, say, Wagner; pulling on everything she knows.

“They’re hard work, the comedies, because they tend to move so fast – especially Chaplin. You can miss a lot of things and it’s quite tricky, the timing in a comedy. You’re on your feet, you’ve got a lot more notes to play… silent film is just as hard as classical musical recitals if you’re going to get it right.”

Wendy sees her job as tuning into the psychological drama.

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“I’m very much concerned with serving the film. I see my job not so much getting up to impress people with wow, I can play.”

Silent Cinema comes to Ipswich’s Jerwood DanceHouse from 7pm tomorrow.

Ip-art, the town’s annual summer arts festival, features a exciting programme of events across a multitude of venues and art forms made up of local, national and international talent.

For a look at the other Ip-art shows, check out our other online entertainment pages and web gallery rundown.

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