Silent Surprises

Autumn has begun – and that means Community Choir is back! Tuesday 13th of September is the big day – and in an astonishing feat of organisation, your choir leaders have updated the choir Calendar up to the end of December, 2016. It has details of gigs and dates for half term and really helpful things like that… Don’t feel anxious – we’re just amazing.

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Anyway, before having a look at what’s to come this term, here’s an amazing pic of us courtesy of Tom Leighton from Organoke. If you want to see more, visit www.musicatstgiles.com where there’s more evidence of a truly awesome night. Thankfully, all photographs of the afterparty in the crypt bar seem to have mercifully disappeared.

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So – on to the new term and this is the fourth year we’re going to be accompanying a silent film at St Giles’. This year’s film is Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Blackmail’ of 1929 – and it’s a cracker. It’s got oodles of Hitch’s signature themes, techniques and motifs running all the way through it – including the blonde in distress, a brilliant Hitch cameo on the tube and a thrilling foot chase set at the British Museum.

Blackmail is an especially important film as two versions of it were made – a silent version and Britain’s first ‘talkie’. Apparently the studio asked Hitchcock to convert the film to sound after silent shooting had already begun – but without informing them, Hitchcock decided to reshoot with some roles having different actors – and make two versions. Most cinemas at the time didn’t have the equipment to show the sound version so his justification was, well, sound. Both versions were a hit at the box office with critics favouring the silent version which we’ll be screening in November.

Apart from a few different actors, the two versions don’t vary from each other that much – the silent version had a length of 6740ft as appose to the 7136ft of the talkie. But one thing which was cut from the silent film was a song called ‘Miss Up-to-Date’ played and sung by actor Cyril Ritchard who appeared in last year’s film, ‘Piccadilly’. It’s only a short song and the music for it is about 80 years out of print and can’t be found anywhere! But we’ll try and include it back into the silent version, along with a few modern songs here and there. Here’s the original – let us know if you can make out any of the words!


After the silent film, we’ll be on the lead up to Christmas and as usual, December is looking hectic. But in the meantime, if you’re thinking about joining us for a rehearsal – do come. Singing in a choir is an amazing experience and it’s really, really good for you! We hope to see you soon. Ash, Matt & Aga.

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