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2012 NY Guitar Festival: Buster Keaton and the Sounds of Silence

Buster Keaton; photo culled from the Kaufman Center website.

The New Year is upon us. For New York City concertgoers, this means the arrival of the New York Guitar Festival, and with it the seemingly anachronistic Silent Films/Live Guitars series.

Presented by the Kaufman Center at Merkin Concert Hall on the Upper West Side, the four-concert series–running from January 10 through 19–showcases silent films by the iconic actor-director Buster Keaton. Each film will feature the live world premieres performances of original scores by the composer-guitarists. The roster of artists is varied and provocative: on Thursday, January 12, Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo presents his score for Cops (1922) and avant-garde indie band Buke & Gass setting excerpts of The General (1926) to music. On Tuesday, January 17, Shara Worden of the art rock band My Brightest Diamond scoresThe Balloonatic (1923) and Stephen Griesgraber’s Redhooker performs music for The Neighbors (1920).

Equal parts classic film screening and new music concert, these events create a kind of intergenerational dialogue and result in a kind of reimagination of Buster Keaton’s cinematic vision within in the context of our contemporary lives. Perhaps more than that, the composition of new original music to accompany the films speaks to music’s ability to communicate universally—across time– about the human experience.

For more information about the 2012 New York Guitar Festival at Merkin Concert Hall, visit here.