Chamber music with silent film:

The Brinton Silent Film Project

A project of live chamber music with silent film. January – May, 2015.

(This project will remain in our repertoire and be available for future programming)

This fascinating project features “an exceptionally rare, perhaps unique, collection” of silent films from 1895-1910 that comprise “perhaps the most significant collection of early films in the world.”

Viewed for the first time in over 100 years, The Brinton Silent Film Collection features historian Michael Zahs as narrator with the Red Cedar Trio providing the music. A new commission by Harvey Sollberger, plus arrangements by Boland and Dowdall, create music designed to complement these 20 rare films ranging in length from 10 seconds to 10 minutes. The silent films include comedy, drama, special effects, foreign scenes and magic by Georges Méliès, whose life story was featured in the film Hugo.

Our partners in the project include the Ainsworth Opera House and Special Collections at the University of Iowa Libraries.

Pictured above are the collaborators. The Red Cedar Trio members

Jan Boland (flute), Carey Bostian (cello) and John Dowdall (guitar)

with Michael Zahs (historian and owner of the rare films).

Photo by John Richard.

The back story:

The films were rehabilitated from their original and unstable condition on nitrate film by the nation’s leading film restoration company, which prepared them for viewing in digital format. The collection, comprised of film images from around the world, includes some of the very earliest films (1895-1908) among which are those of the famous French filmmaker Georges Méliès. The films also have a strong Iowa connection.

The films were originally owned and shown to thousands of eager viewers in Eastern Iowa and beyond by Frank and Indiana Brinton (from Washington, Iowa) in the early 20th-century.

Michael Zahs has an image (taken from glass negative) taken at the Strand? Theater in Washington, Iowa circa 1907. Pictured in the center with a film projector is Frank Brinton. Seated next to him is his wife Indiana. Musicians are pictured in the balcony: clearly visible are a bass drum and brass instruments.

The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) named the project among the “Top 15 for 2015” and Hoopla dubbed the April 25th concert “Pick-of-the-Week”. Diana Nollen wrote a great article.

The Des Moines Register published an interview with Michael Zahs.

The Vinton Eagle covered the Palace Theater concert and posted many photos.

LISTEN: Hear an Iowa Public Radio live concert and interview surrounding the project.

The Brinton Silent Film Project is being documented by a film crew from Iowa City _ John Richard, of Bocce Ball Creative Studio and Andrew Sherbourne and Tommy Haines of Northland Films.

Pictured above: Tommy Haines, filmmaker; John Richard, filmmaker; Michael Zahs, historian; Andrew Sherbourne, filmmaker; Harvey Sollberger, composer; and John Dowdall, guitarist and Artistic Director of Red Cedar Chamber Music.

Photo by Jan Boland


Lead sponsors: the Augustine Foundation (NY) and the Iowa Arts Council. a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.


There are a myriad of educational events surrounding this series of concerts. The schedule is below.

Concert Schedule:

56 events in Spring, 2015

Reached 1,263 children and 1,672 adults = 2,935

• January, 2015. 4-day residency (16 classrooms) at Jefferson High School, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

• February, 2015. 3-day (12 classrooms) residency at Francis Marion School, Marion, Iowa.

• February 17, 2015. (Saturday) at Summit Pointe, Marion, Iowa.

* March 4, 2015. (Wednesday) Open Rehearsal at Ainsworth Opera House, Ainsworth, Iowa.

* March 5, 2015. (Thursday) Open Rehearsal at Ainsworth Opera House, Ainsworth, Iowa.

• March 6, 2015. (Friday) Premier I at the Ainsworth Opera House, Ainsworth, Iowa.

• March 7, 2015. (Saturday) A different program from March 6th..Premier II at the Ainsworth Opera House, Ainsworth, Iowa.

• March 14, 2015. (Saturday) for the Southeast Iowa Symphony, Ottumwa, Iowa.

• March 17, 2015. (Tuesday) at Granger House, Marion, Iowa.

• March 17, 2015. (Tuesday) at Sts. Peter and Paul, Solon, Iowa.

• March 18, 2015. (Wednesday) Parlor Concert at Oaknoll, Iowa City, Iowa..

• March 19, 2015. (Thursday) at Williamsburg Public Library, Williamsburg, Iowa.

• March 19, 2015. (Thursday) at Highland Ridge, Williamsburg, Iowa.

• March 26, 2015. (Thursday) at Cedar Rapids Public Library, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

• March 26, 2015. (Thursday) at Lowe Park Arts Center, Marion, Iowa.

• March 28, 2015. (Saturday) at Hiawatha Public Library, Hiawatha, Iowa.

• April 2, 2015. (Thursday) at Marion Public Library, Marion, Iowa

• April 2, 2015. (Thursday) at Cottage Grove Place, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

• April 22, 2015. (Wednesday) Open Rehearsal at Village Place, Marion, Iowa.

• April 22, 2015. (Wednesday) at Village Place, Marion, Iowa.

• April 22, 2015. (Wednesday) at Central City Public Library, Central City, Iowa.

• April 23, 2015. (Thursday) at Marion City Hall, Marion, Iowa.

• April 23, 2015. (Thursday) at Vinton Theater, Vinton, Iowa.

• April 24, 2015. (Friday) at Meth-Wick Community, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

• April 24, 2015. (Friday) at St. Mary’s Church, Tipton, Iowa.

• April 25, 2015. (Saturday) at Springville Public Library, Springville, Iowa

• April 25, 2015. (Saturday) at CSPS Hall, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

• April 28, 2015. (Tuesday) at Kirkwood Community College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

• April 28, 2015. (Tuesday) at Calvary Baptist Church, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

• May 6, 2015. (Wednesday) at University of Iowa, Shambaugh Aud., Iowa City, Iowa.

• August 14, 2014 (Friday) 3:30 p.m. Washington D.C. For the National Convention of the National Flute Association. Four films featuring the music of Harvey Sollberger (Sydney the Clown, Elk’s Parade, The Secret of Death Valley and Train/Pullman Car).

Silent Film Suite Composer

Harvey Sollberger

Harvey Sollberger is a composer, conductor and flutist who has been active in many world musical centers. Performers of his music have included the New York Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, Tanglewood, June in Buffalo, Interlink (Tokyo), Radio France and Pierre Boulez’s Domaine Musical (Paris), TRANSIT (Belgium) and Incontri di Musica Sacra Contemporanea (Rome). Sollberger has received the Award  of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, two Guggenheim Fellowships and commissions from the Fromm, Naumberg and Koussevitzky foundations, and has taught at Columbia University, the Manhattan School of Music, Indiana University and the University of California, San Diego. His output as composer and performer is documented on over 150 commercial CDs.  Harvey Sollberger currently lives in Iowa.

The Music

composed for (or arranged for) flute, cello and guitar

Music by Living Composers :

Sollberger, Harvey. Suite for Silent Film

Owen, Jerry M. Trio Concertante over Czech Folk Songs

Kimber, Michael. Rag from Four Sketches

Bloesch, Peter. Spillville Variation

Gilbertson, Michael. Spillville Variation

Gullickson, Luke. Spillville Variation


Antonine Dvorak’s Humoresque

Sir Henry Bishop’s Home Sweet Home

Stephen Foster’s Old Folks Quadrilles

Bela Bartok’s Romanian Folk Dances

Charles Gounod’s March of the Marionette

Georg P. Telemann’s Cello Sonata XI

Septimus Winner’s Il Bachio

Edvard Grieg’s March of the Dwarfs

Traditional Folk Song: Scarborough Fair

J.S. Bach’s Flute Sonata in e minor

Jacques Aubert’s Contrefeseur (The Mimic)

W.A. Mozart’s Conzonetta from Don Giovanni

Stephen Foster’s Beautiful Dreamer

Audience Comments:

The Brinton Silent Film Project concerts Spring, 2015

“It’s such an extraordinary program that you’ve put together. Thank you for your hard work and excitement in bringing us something that is truly unique. I wish everyone could see this.” S.S.

“What a treat! Just a superb blending of the music with the films, and performed in excellence. My favorite ever! I love this group of musicians.”

“This was a one-of-a-kind show! I truly enjoyed it and can’t wait for the next one.”C.P.

“Excellent performance. Films were extremely rare to me, the music was great! The films were made alive with the music.”

Miera Kim, Executive Director

Carey Bostian, Artistic Director

Phone to (319) 338-0307

Red Cedar Chamber Music
PO Box 154
Marion IA 52302