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K-State Today

October 11, 2012

Renowned theatre organist to accompany 'The Phantom of the Opera' silent film at K-State

Submitted by Kristin Mortenson

Brett Valliant, organist

Brett Valliant, internationally renowned theatre organist, will provide accompaniment to the silent film "The Phantom of the Opera" at 7:30 p.m Monday, Oct. 15, in All Faiths Chapel.

In the world of silent film, Valliant is known for scoring and accompanying many films, but is best known for dramatic films such as "King Of Kings," "Phantom of the Opera," "The Ten Commandments," "Broken Blossoms," Wings" and "The Eagle."

He plays annually for several film festivals, including the International Film Festival hosted by the American Film Institute, and has been a featured performer at national conventions of the American Guild of Organists and the American Theatre Organ Society. He has toured extensively as a solo artist, featured soloist with orchestras and film accompanist abroad and throughout the United States.

Silent films — which enjoyed their heyday in the 1920s — had live musicians who provided piano or organ accompaniment. Organs were often installed in larger theatres and local organists would improvise — simultaneously compose and play — music to the film. With the advent of talking pictures, silent films fell out of favor and the art of accompanying silent films also became a generally lost art among pianists and organists.

Valliant will be providing accompaniment to the original 1925 silent version of "The Phantom of the Opera," starring Lon Chaney and directed by Rupert Julian. The film is an adaptation of the Gaston Leroux novel that bears the same title.

Valliant's performance is free and open to the public and is jointly sponsored by the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance and the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.

Valliant was inspired by the organ at church when he was just 3 years old. He soon excelled at the piano, but that early love of the pipe organ propelled him to his position as a full time church musician at the First United Methodist Church of Wichita, a post he has held since his teen years. He studied organ at Wichita State University and he has been a featured performer on National Public Radio's “Pipedreams” as well as the National Bible Broadcasting Network, where his imaginative hymn arrangements are heard daily throughout the United States.

At 15, he played his first Wurlitzer and exhibited a natural talent for the popular music loved by fans of theatre organ. For his innovative approach to musicianship and performance, Valliant credits his love and passion for rock 'n' roll, classical, jazz and popular music. He lives in Wichita with his Chihuahua, Mabel.