Walt Strony performs live with Lon Chaney masterpiece

"The Hunchback of Notre Dame" - about the yearning of the human spirit - screens for free at 4pm Sunday, Oct. 14, at PEACE Lutheran Church.

“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” – about the yearning of the human spirit – screens for free at 4pm Sunday, Oct. 14, at PEACE Lutheran Church.

Nationally recognized organist Walt Strony performs live music to accompany “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” the 1923 silent film starring Lon Chaney, at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14, in Grass Valley.

Silent Movies with Walt Strony presents “Hunchback” for free at Peace Lutheran Church, 828 W. Main St., near downtown. A free wine-and-cheese reception follows. Both events are produced by Arts @ PEACE, offering high-quality entertainment to the community. PEACE is raising money to buy a new organ for the church sanctuary, and any donations will be accepted gratefully.

Strony will perform original themes as part of a score featuring French, Romantic-era composers including Camille Saint-Saëns and Cesar Franck. One original work is the theme you’ll hear when Quasimodo makes his appearance ringing the great bells of Notre Dame Cathedral, he explained. “I couldn’t think of anything already written that would work for this, so I wrote my own.”

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In addition, Strony will perform on his own, personal instrument. “I designed it for the Allen Organ Co.” Strony said. “It’s the only one in California of its type.” This performance offers a taste of the sound that could be produced in PEACE”s Sanctuary with a modern digital-pipe instrument.

Strony’s goal, he added, is to recreate the experience of watching silent movies the way they were originally intended.

The 1923 film, shot at Carl Laemmle’s Universal Studios in Hollywood, is based on Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel of the same name. The story relates the suffering, hope and heroism of the deformed Quasimodo, who rings the great bells of Notre Dame Cathedral in 15th-century Paris. He falls in love with the kind and free-spirited Esmeralda. A three-way competition for her affection unfolds against the backdrop of a beggar army, an evil cathedral manager, his saintly brother, a dashing captain, a festive ball and an attack on the cathedral.

So far, more than $22,000 has been raised toward purchasing a new organ for Peace. In addition to being used in worship services, a combination, digital-pipe organ would be used by secular groups that perform in the sanctuary.

Learn more about “Hunchback”

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