published Friday, June 24th, 2011

Organ concert features Buster Keaton film


What: Chattanooga Music Club’s Patriotic Organ Concert.

When: 7 p.m. Thursday.

Where: Memorial Auditorium, 399 McCallie Ave.

Admission: Free.

Phone: 642-TIXS.


The most audience-interactive, entertaining organ performance to date is planned by the Chattanooga Music Club for its fifth annual patriotic concert Thursday night in Memorial Auditorium.

The featured artist will be Dr. Steven Ball, a faculty member of the University of Michigan. The 32-year-old musician is one of the few organists in the world to hold a doctor of music arts degree in silent film.

The audience will have the rare chance to see him work his movie magic at the keyboard when he plays nonstop for 75 minutes during a screening of “The General” following the concert’s intermission.

The 1926 silent film stars Buster Keaton and is based on the Great Locomotive Chase of 1862 in North Georgia. The Music Club chose the movie to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

“Steven is outstanding and a leader in silent-film accompaniment,” said Evelyn Gibbs, CMC club member who chaired the $1 million restoration of the auditorium’s 1924 Austin pipe organ.

“During the concert, he will also play the overture to ‘Candide,’ which is theater music that will show off all the different sounds the organ is capable of,” she said.

The free concert will open with a salute to all service branches of the military.

The patriotic portion will be followed by a mini-version of a musical, “Whose Line Is It?” As guests arrive, they will be given a card on which they may write down a movie theme or song of their choice. A card will be drawn at random by the guest organist, who will then improvise music on that theme as part of his first-half performance.

Gibbs said the movie and concert should last about two hours.


The Chattanooga Symphony & Opera will present its annual Pops on the River concert. The East Tennessee Symphony Orchestra will offer “The American Dream” at Collegedale Greenway. The Museum Center at Five Points in Cleveland, Tenn., will celebrate with a Red, White & Blues cookout featuring the Sassy Brass Big Band. How is your organization celebrating Independence Day? Send the details to for inclusion in our roundup of community festivals, concerts and fireworks displays happening around the region. We’ll run the list Friday, July 1, to help you plan your long holiday weekend. Call 423-757-6281 or 423-757-6354 for more information.

about Susan Pierce...

Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...

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