The FreshGrass Foundation, dedicated to preserving, supporting and creating innovative grassroots music and the artists who make it, begins a new commissioning project with FreshScores: original scores by contemporary artists performed live to classic and significant silent films.
Friday features the first-ever FreshScore performances. Grammy Award-winner Alison Brown performs her haunting banjo score to the D. W. Griffith short A Child of the Ghetto (originally commissioned by the 2015 New York Jewish Film Festival), followed by old-time blues guitarist and singer Mamie Minch’s brand new score to Winsor McKay’s innovative 1921 animation The Flying House.
A short tale of the hardships of the Lower East Side at the turn of the century is captured in A Child of the Ghetto, as a young heroine struggles to support herself as a seamstress after the death of her mother and eventually must flee the city after she is falsely accused of stealing money. Director Griffith’s 1910 film captures the hustle and bustle of the city at the height of his Hollywood career, showcasing his storytelling power and editing techniques, all while portraying New York City as a threatening place for American Jews, arguing that they would improve their lives by moving out of the city ghettos.
Set to blues maven Mamie Minch’s original score, The Flying House tells the story of a woman who has a vivid dream in which her husband, in order to escape an increase in their mortgage payment, decides to put a gigantic propeller on their house and flies it to a new location where they won’t have to pay their mortgage. Flying across the ocean, much of the world, and eventually into outer space, the woman is only awoken from her nightmare after a huge giant attempts to swat the house out of the sky.