Muscatine, Iowa – Music and history buffs, as well as those looking for an original way to celebrate Mother’s Day, should look no further than Red Cedar Chamber Music’s upcoming performance of “Brinton Surprise” at Muscatine. Art Center. A remarkable free concert bringing together original instrumental music and first silent films, the show will intrigue spectators of all ages on May 8.
A group from the Cedar Rapids area, Red Cedar Chamber Music tours the state of Iowa (and sometimes beyond) and has visited Muscatine in previous years. Muscatine Art Center director Melanie Alexander had heard them perform before, and when they contacted her about arranging a concert at the Muscatine Art Center, she thought it was a good fit for her. “They were excited about it, and I’ve loved hearing from them in the past, and thought it would be fun for us,” she shared.
With beautiful original music performed by Red Cedar directors Miera Kim (violinist) and Carey Bostian (cellist), flautist Claudia Anderson and guitarist John Dowdall, “Brinton Surprise” will include selections from silent films and magic lantern shows. from the Brinton Collection, a remarkable collection of early films and documents now housed in the University of Iowa Special Collections. To help audiences understand and appreciate the films, Michael Zahs, the historian who discovered the Brinton Collection, will provide the narration. Red Cedar and Zahs worked together to create two more productions featuring media from the Brinton Collection.
Along with music from some of their previous shows, Red Cedar will release three new compositions, including a score by Philip Wharton for “The Fairytale of Springtime,” a 1902 French silent film; a score by Michael Kimber for “Venetian Tragedy,” a gripping nine-minute short drama; and a piece by Jean-François Charles and Nicolas Sidoroff to accompany a modern creation paying homage to the work of French filmmaker Georges Méliès. Something out of the ordinary, Alexander thinks audiences will enjoy hearing music that few have heard before.
The “Brinton Surprise” concert will give people who have watched other silent film screenings at the Muscatine Art Center a chance to see ones they’ve probably never encountered before. Alexander noted that the performance would particularly appeal to “people who went to Eagles and Ivorys and enjoyed the silent film component”. However, Alexander thought the performance would also amuse those who have never seen a silent film.
More than anything, Alexander looks forward to welcoming listeners of all ages to the Musser Mansion Music Room, located at 1314 Mulberry Avenue, to experience the thrills of a live performance. “It’s a chance to get back to things that we appreciate and took for granted before 2020,” she said, as she personally revels in being able to feel, “that immersion that you feel with artists that you don’t feel when you watch at home.”
A free event requiring no pre-registration, Red Cedar Chamber Music’s performance of “Brinton Surprise” will take place at the Art Center on May 8 at 3 p.m. A matinee concert suitable for people of all ages, Alexander hopes many curious residents, as well as families looking for a new way to celebrate Mother’s Day with the moms in their lives, will come out and have fun at the Ancient.