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BEN - HUR, The Epic 1925 Silent Film presented in an Epic Space with live, improvised musical accompaniment.
Saint Cecilia Parish Church
Boston, MA
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BEN - HUR, The Epic 1925 Silent Film presented in an Epic Space with live, improvised musical accompaniment.

BEN-HUR, A TALE OF THE CHRIST, the 1925 epic silent film will be presented at Saint Cecilia Parish, Boston on Thursday, April 27, 2017  with live improvised musical accompaniment by international sonic artist Peter Edwin Krasinski on the substantial Smith and Gilbert pipe organ.

The event will officially begin with a musical prelude featuring the organ on the silver screen.

The film: BEN-HUR, A TALE OF THE CHRIST (1925)
The Venue: SAINT CECILIA PARISH, 18 Belvidere Street, Boston (behind Berklee School of Music Massachusetts  Ave. campus)  Near the Hynes Convention (Auditorium) green line T stop.
The Date: April 27, 2017
The Time: 7:00-10 PM
The Soundtrack: Peter Krasinski, (Live improvised accompaniment)
The Instrument: The substantial SMITH/GILBERT pipe organ (1999)


Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ is a 1925 American epic silent film directed by Fred Niblo and written by June Mathis based on the 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by General Lew Wallace. Starring Ramon Novarro as the title character, the film is the first feature-length adaptation of the novel and second overall, following the 1907 short.
In 1997, Ben-Hur was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

Ben-Hur is a wealthy Jew and boyhood friend of the powerful Roman Tribune, Messala. When an accident leads to Ben-Hur's arrest, Messala, who has become corrupt and arrogant, makes sure Ben-Hur and his family are jailed and separated.
Ben-Hur is sentenced to slave labor in a Roman war galley. Along the way, he unknowingly encounters Jesus, the carpenter's son who offers him water. Once aboard ship, his attitude of defiance and strength impresses a Roman admiral, Quintus Arrius, who allows him to remain unchained. This actually works in the Admiral's favor because when his ship is attacked and sunk by pirates, Ben-Hur saves him from drowning.
Arrius then treats Ben-Hur as a son, and over the years the young man grows strong and becomes a victorious chariot racer. This eventually leads to a climactic showdown with Messala in a chariot race.

The 1925 version's chariot race is called by many to be considerably more exciting than the later sound version, and the sea battle used full-sized ships and hundreds of extras (shot in Italy, where a fire broke out on the ships during the shooting...the extras' panic on screen was NOT acting!)

Some scenes in the film are in two-color Technicolor, most notably the sequences involving Jesus. One of the assistant directors for this sequence was a very young William Wyler, who would direct the 1959 remake. The black-and-white footage was color tinted and toned in the film's original release print.

PETER EDWIN KRASINSKI is broadly recognized as a motivating consultant for the pipe organ community, and as a conductor, organist, and music educator, whose imaginative and energetic performances elevate and inform diverse audiences. Well respected in both the secular and sacred genres of his field, he has taught the enchantment of music to both public and private institutions in the greater Boston area for many years. His Bach interpretations have been hailed in print as "sublimely spiritual", and his improvisations have been critically acclaimed in the press as "stunning", "seamless", and brilliant. His silent film performances have been called a great marriage of movie and music. He consistently receives rave reviews about his performances. Krasinskis musicianship and command of the organ were matched by his intuition and keen sense of dramatic sensitivity. It was remarkable and seamless, and yesno modern movie could out do it. In fact I go as far as to say it was live theaterIt was as if Krasinski became one with the elements.

He specializes in the art of live silent film accompaniment, worldwide. Appearances include Hammond Castle in Gloucester MA (for the International Society of Organ Builders), Irvine Auditorium at the University of Pennsylvania, Schermerhorn Symphony Hall (Nashville), the John Silber Symphonic Organ at Boston University, The Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts, Trinity Wall Street (NYC), Wanamakers-Macys Greek Hall (Philadelphia), St Malachys/The Actors Chapel (NYC), Sharp Concert Hall at University of Oklahoma, Trinity on the Green (New Haven), The Performing Arts Center (Providence) and Mary Keane Chapel (Enfield, NH).  He has premiered the art of silent film at many distinguished venues including Marsh Chapel at Boston University, St Josephs Cathedral (Hartford), National City Christian Church (Washington, DC), Cathedral Church of St Paul (Boston), St Josephs Oratory (Montreal), United Congregational Church (Holyoke), Old South Church (Boston), as well as major concert halls in Yokohama, Fukui, Miyazaki and Kanazawa, Japan.

Mr. Krasinski has won numerous prizes in organ including First Prize in Improvisation in the American Guild of Organists National Competition. He was subsequently featured artist at the convention in Los Angeles at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. He has studied composition and improvisation with Naji Hakim (Sainte-Trinite), interpretation with Marie Langlais (Sainte-Clotilde), and also played and conducted for services at the American Cathedral in Paris. Among his many recital appearances he has played in concert at Notre-Dame Cathedral (directly following the renaming of Parvis Notre-Dame to Place Jean-Paul II) Paris, Methuen Memorial Music Hall (as featured solo artist for their Centennial Celebration), The Kotzschmar Organ at City Hall (Portland), Trinity Church (Boston),  Holy Name Cathedral (Chicago) and Wanamakers/Macys Grand Court for their Centennial Celebration)

Mr. Krasinski currently serves as Organist of First Church of Christ, Scientist in Providence RI, accompanist at Beth El Temple Center Belmont MA, and as a faculty member of St Pauls Choir School, Cambridge MA. He is past Dean of the Boston chapter AGO, regularly teaches improvisation master-classes to the Harvard Organ Society and is organ consultant to a number of high profile projects. Past positions include Director of Choral Arts at Beaver Country Day School and Artistic Director of Youth pro Musica. He holds both a Bachelor of Music Degree in Music Education and Organ Performance, and the Master of Sacred Music Degree from Boston University.

Mr. Krasinski has shared his organ accompaniment, interpretation and improvising skills as soloist and with many organizations around the United States, France and Japan. He has conducted internationally, and his numerous commissioned compositions often see repeat performances. His other passions include playing jazz piano and sailing his J-24 off the coast of the North East.

For bookings, upcoming performances and more information please visit the website-                            


Saint Cecilia Parish was established in 1888. In 1902 the Hutchings-Votey Organ Company of Boston installed a three-manual organ in St. Cecilia Church, opus 1465. The instrument of twenty-four speaking stops had electric action, and stood in the very center of the rear gallery in one case. The organ builders were George S. Hutchings (1835-1913), who started business in 1869, and Edwin Scott Votey (1856-1931), pioneer in the perfection of the player piano, who was Hutchings partner from 1901 to 1907. In 1902, the factory was on 23-37 Irvington Street in Boston (and in 1905-1908 at Albany Street in Cambridge near Massachusetts Avenue, before moving to Waltham, MA.)
St. Cecilia Church was first renovated in 1954. Part of the project included installation of the Assumption window in the rear gallery, right behind the Hutchings organ. In order to accommodate the window, and to overcome growing mechanical difficulties with the organ, Rostron Kershaw of Lowell was hired to construct a new three manual organ. Roy Carlson of Magnolia, Massachusetts developed the tonal design for the new thirty-two stop instrument. About half of the organs pipework was recycled from the Hutchings, but redistributed to conform to the new scheme. By 1995 the Kershaw organs mechanical reliability was in question. The Kershaw installation left various components inaccessible for maintenance. Also, the tonal design had proved to limit the organists flexibility in playing a smooth service or in faithfully rendering various styles of organ literature. In addition, the organs pitch was A=427, not the standard A=440 set in the 1920s for orchestral instruments.
Work began in January of 1998. All pipes were removed, cleaned, cut to pitch, and put back on speech. Most of the organs 2,300 pipes were found to be unmusical in tone. Theodore Gilbert, organ builder from Wilbraham, Massachusetts with fifty years of organ building experience as a voicer and finisher for the Austin, Casavant, and Aeolian-Skinner Organ Companies, gave a heart and soul to the new organ. He was brought into the project to reconstruct and re-scale these pipes. This painstaking process was done with the unified whole in mind, to produce a new organ of variety, color and expressive quality. A. R. Schopps Sons of Alliance, Ohio, restored the reed stops, completing sets that had been changed by Carlson in 1954. The Kershaw console was replaced with a four-manual Austin console from Cleveland, Ohio, solidly reliable and complete with ivory keys. Every effort was made to improve the organs layout for maximum tonal effects and ease of maintenance.
Allan Taylor of Feeding Hills, Massachusetts, completely rewired the entire organ, designing a new solid state switching relay to control the organs electrical connections. New D.C.-servo motors were installed for the expression shades. Andrew Smith of Cornish, N. H., rebuilt off-set windchests and created racking for the restored reed stops. Jonathan Moretz of Boston Building Doctors supervised the reconstruction of the expression chambers and the new decking above each chamber to Timothy E. Smiths specifications. Southfield Organ Builders of Springfield, Massachusetts, constructed a new unit windchest. The site work, requiring hundreds of hours of cleaning, rebuilding, relocating, and on-site fabricating, was completed by a team including Gabriel Cantor, Gregory Dixon, Christian Grove, Gregory Hyde, Peter Hyde, Benjamin Little, Adam Mittleman, Nathan Schreiber, Gregory Serapiglia, Helen and Carlyle Smith, David Steakley, and Eric Weisman. Most are residents of Framingham, Massachusetts, and a neighborhood in that town is call Nobscot. Without their effort, the project could not have succeeded.
On Sunday, November 21, 1999 the gallery organ was blessed during the parish liturgy by Msgr. Michael F. Groden, Pastor of St. Cecilia Parish. It was dedicated in concert by organist Richard J. Clark on November 22, 1999, the Feast of Saint Cecilia.
Soon to follow was the installation of an antiphonal division of seven ranks, located near the front of the church, underneath the Saint Cecilia Window. Built in the 1960s by Robert Noehren, it was removed from St. Ignatius Episcopal Church in Antioch, Illinois. Reconstruction began in July 2000 by Adam Mittleman and Timothy Smith. Its inaugural liturgy was on the Feast of the Assumption, August 15, 2000. Soon after, Smith and Gilbert began reshaping its tonal design to tailor the organ to St. Cecilia Parishs very specific liturgical needs. Furthermore, part of this retailoring included extensive wiring by Allen Taylor making the organ playable from both its own 2 manual console, and from the 4 manual console in the gallery. An 1850 W. B. D. Simmons case was refurbished by Andrew Smith of Cornish, New Hampshire and was installed in October of 2001. The completed Antiphonal Organ was dedicated in concert by organists Timothy E. Smith and Richard J. Clark on November 18, 2001.
In 2012 the four-manual Austin Console was replaced by the Aeolian Skinner console from St. Phillip Cathedral in Atlanta, Georgia. Modified to the Specifications of the St. Cecilia Organs, it features 64 levels of memory making it a far more versatile instrument than ever before in its history.
The most recent additions to the organ include two significant ranks: a 32 Contra Bourdon and a 32 Contra Bombarde bringing this formidable instrument to fifty-two ranks and 2,950 pipes.
In June of 2014, the St. Cecilia pipe organs were featured for several events at the American Guild of Organists National Convention.


Saint Cecilia Parish Church (View)
18 Belvidere Street
Boston, MA 02446
United States

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Film > Festivals
Film > Movies
Film > Premiers
Music > All Ages
Music > Americana
Music > Classical
Music > Experimental
Music > Spiritual

Minimum Age: 9
Kid Friendly: Yes!
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!


On BPT Since: Sep 20, 2013
Peter Krasinski

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