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The Sound of Silents film series returns to the Peristyle May 23


The Sound of Silents film series, which features classics of the silent film era with live musical accompaniment in the Peristyle Theater, returns to the Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) with the showing of the 1925 film “The Freshman” at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 23 in the Peristyle.


International renowned organist Clark Wilson will provide the score using the Skinner organ, which was installed in its current location in the Peristyle in 1933 by the Skinner Organ Company. It was first built in 1926 for the TMA’s Hemicycle auditorium.


“This crowd-pleaser is a gleeful showcase of slapstick brilliance and incandescent charm,” said Scott Boberg, TMA manager of programs and audience engagement. “The film not only highlights the early days of cinema but also allows us to showcase this incredible Skinner organ.”


While silent films lacked dialogue, they were never really silent, Boberg explained.


“The Sound of Silents film series showcases the critical role music played in advancing the story line by providing cues for the audience,” Boberg said. “When the audience enters the Peristyle, they will see the organ console on the stage, but as the lights go down, they will forget it is there and be immersed in the film.”


For Wilson, playing in the Peristyle, which was built in 1933, the architecture and history of the room provide the perfect context for the silent films of the 1920s and 1930s.


“The Peristyle is a really unique room and fascinating place,” Wilson said. “It amplifies the experience when you play there.”


While music can make people smile or cry, it is important for Wilson to stay true to the filmmakers original intent.


“It puts a tremendous amount of power and weight on your shoulders in deciding what to play and how to play it,” Wilson said.


The opportunity to play the Skinner organ, many of which were lost to time and changing tastes in the 1950s, is something to be celebrated, he said.


“It fits the room beautifully and has all the signature sounds of the best Skinner organs,” Wilson said. “It is a credit to the Museum for restoring and maintaining it.”


“The Freshman,” Harold Lloyd’s biggest box-office hit, is a silent comedy gem, featuring the befuddled everyman at his eager best as a new college student. Though he dreams of being a big man on campus, the freshman’s careful plans inevitably go hilariously awry, be it on the football field or at the Fall Frolic. But he gets a climactic chance to prove his mettle—and impress the sweet girl he loves—in one of the most famous sports sequences ever filmed.


Tickets are $5 for members, $7 for nonmembers and $4 for students and military. For more information or to purchase tickets visit Thursday evening programming at the Museum is sponsored in part by Huntington Private Client Group.