Buster Keaton at the WCA

There was a special screening of two classic Buster Keaton comedies at the WCA’s Red Barn on Saturday, November 18. Thanks to Jeff Rapsis, the films were presented as they were meant to be shown – on a large screen with live music. First up was the short film ‘Sherlock Jr. (1924) followed by Keaton’s comic Civil War masterpiece ‘The General’ (1926).

He never smiled on camera, earning him the nickname of the Great Stone Face but Buster Keaton’s comedies rocked Hollywood’s silent era with laughter. Acclaimed for their originality and timeless visual humor, Keaton’s films remain popular crowd-pleasers today.

Jeff Rapsis is a composer and performer who specializes in creating live musical scores for silent film screenings. WCA president, Nancy Large who heads up the 2017 concert series says, “We wanted something a little different for the final concert of the season. We are delighted that Jeff can join us on November 18.”

A fan of silent films since middle-school, Rapsis brings Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Buster Keaton and other great actors from the past to life. He does not use sheet music during the performance. Instead, the New Hampshire native carries a notebook of ideas and improvises throughout the film. Rapsis’ approach ensures that each performance is new, fresh and different.

Like most WCA events and programs, the screening and concert were free and open to the public. A special thanks goes out to volunteers Darlene Delano, Jessica Ferren, Nancy Large, Susan Nye, Rachel Seamans and Roxanne Shed.

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R.P. Hale in Concert

A small but enthusiastic group gathered at the WCA Red Barn on Saturday evening, September 16 for a harpsicord and hammered dulcimer concert. Dressed in period costume, R.P. Hale was the man behind the keys and mallets. Along with playing pieces by Sir William Herschel, Thomas Jefferson, and more, R.P. took a few minutes before each piece to discuss the piece as well as his instruments.  

A multi-generational and interdisciplinary artist-craftsman, R.P. has been teaching a variety of topics and skills since 1976.He is a concert harpsichordist and hammer dulcimer player as well as a harpsichord/dulcimer maker, master calligrapher and illustrator, pen-and-ink artist, nationally-known wood-engraver, Intaglio and Letterpress printer, wood carver, maker of marbleized papers and fabrics, period re-enactor, linguist, solar and archaeo-astronomer, and historian.

In 1999, the Smithsonian Institute recognized R.P. as one of the top musical instrument makers in the U.S. and exhibited his work. His concerts reflect his wide-ranging musical interests from c.750 B.C. works from China to that of Sir William Herschel of the 1790s.

Born to a Sonoran Mexican family of artists and printers, his programs “La História Cultural de México,” “El Calendro Azteca,” and “Astronomy, Math. Calendars, and Histories of the Maya,” respectively feature the history of Mexico as seen through the arts and traditional lore. R.P. received a Fellowship from the State Arts Council and in 2000 was invited to present his multi-faceted traditions at the Celebrate New Hampshire festival.

Along with his solo performances, he is in heavy demand by ensembles for his improvised accompaniment skills at the harpsichord and organ.

R.P. teaches at St. Paul’s School and is Senior Educator at the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center, specializing in spectroscopy, star evolution, mathematics, physics, astronomy history and archaeoastronomy. He has built a spectroscopy/optics teaching lab there. He taught summers at the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins, West Virginia for 33 years and is a visiting faculty in art and astronomy at Davis and Elkins College.

Ed for a Day to play in Wilmot

ed-tree-8The third and final performance in the WCA’s fall concert series is on Saturday, November 19 at 7 p.m. Local band, Ed for a Day will play at the Association’s Red Barn, 64 Village Road in Wilmot.

The concert is free and open to all!

Ed for a Day formed in 2003 after a bunch of friends compared their top ten favorite bands. After discovering that each list included U2, REM, The Police, The Pixies, and Neil Diamond, they knew that they had to form a band! Today, Ed for a Day includes Neal Byles on lead vocals, guitars, mandolin and mandocello, David Wartski vocals and bass, Walt Cammack on drums and percussion, and part-time member Thelastris Durand on vocals and guitar.

Ed for a Day likes to describe their music as “industrial folk,” mostly because it sounds cool. They play a combination of original songs and covers from a broad range of musical styles, with a general focus on 80s and 90s alternative and grunge.