Once again Ottawa South’s Kevin Reeves has used his extraordinary talent to match music with a film of the silent era. On Friday, February 23 and Saturday, February 24, 2018, his superb chamber choir, Seventeen Voyces, will present Charlie Chaplin’s silent film comedy The Gold Rush at St. Matthew’s Anglican Church in the Glebe. The choir will sing a variety of songs, ranging from baroque to contemporary, with some jazz and spirituals as well.
Virtuoso organist Matthew Larkin, who also lives in Ottawa South, will demonstrate his remarkable ability to interpret the mood and action of silent films. He has worked with Seventeen Voyces on silent film choral adaptations every year since Reeves organized the first such presentation, Theodore Dreyer’s masterpiece The Passion of Joan of Arc, more than 10 years ago.
Reeves says that finding choral music to match comedies is far more challenging than finding the right music for dramas. The choir’s last comedic film presentation was Buster Keaton’s The General in 2010.
“Since we have done two massive biblical epics in a row, it was time to have a comedy which clocked in under two hours,” he says. “I chose Gold Rush because Seventeen Voyces already presented Buster Keaton's masterpiece and I felt Chaplin was getting short-changed.”
Released in 1925, Chaplin’s film about a prospector at the time of the Klondike gold-rush is one of Chaplin’s most acclaimed works, and one that Chaplin famously said was the one he wished to be remembered for most. Complete with blizzards, bar rooms and an invading bear, the film depicts the struggles of life in the Klondike.
The film, which will be projected on a large screen, is excellent family entertainment and includes some memorable scenes of frugal living.
Georgia Hale, a beautiful Miss America Pageant contestant—who failed to make a successful transition from silent film to sound—plays the love interest. Happily for Miss Hale, who also played in the original screen version of The Great Gatsby, she went on to become a successful real estate agent.
With the assistance of Barbara Chamberlin, director of the Whitehorse Community Choir, Reeves has selected a number of rarely heard folksongs related to the north, including “Yukon River”, “Hudson Bay Boys”, and “The Scout” by Stephen Chatman, professor of composition at the University of British Columbia.
Other choral works include works by Elgar, Holst, and Kodaly, as well as Thomas Ravenscroft’s delightful “Toss the Pot” and Hoagy Carmichael’s “Georgia”. A highlight will be Lakmé de Delibes effervescent “Flower Duet”.
Seventeen Voyces presents Charlie Chaplin in “The Gold Rush”, Fri. Feb. 23 & Sat. Feb. 24, 2018 7:30 pm. St. Matthew’s Anglican Church, 130 Glebe Ave., near Bank St. Adults: $25; Students: $15. www.seventeenvoyces.ca or Compact Music, Book Bazaar, Leading Note, and Herb & Spice, Wellington West.