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Review: Bach Choir, Charlie Chaplin blend well

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Monday, April 8, 2013, 11:24 a.m.
 

Johann Sebastian Bach was not the soundtrack writer for Charlie Chaplin that John Williams is for Steven Spielberg, but with a little editing here and there, Thomas Wesley Douglas made it seem like he might be.

Douglas and the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh did a concert called “Time Zones” on April 6 and 7 in which he used a variety of Bach material as scores for four Chaplin shorts and the full-length “A Dog's Life.” The choir's artistic director diced and sliced the music and also turned some of the pieces into wordless vocals rather than using the original lyrics.

His construction of Bach's music in general fit the films well. For instance, the Fugue in D Major was an appropriate music machine over the conveyor belt finale of “Modern Times.”

As is often the case, Douglas' concerts can be a little out of the ordinary. In these, the four shorts were shown in the auditorium of the Allegheny Academy public school on the North Side while “A Dog's Life” was screened in the lobby. Audience members could choose what they wanted to see first and then go to the other site for the second half.

It was almost like changing classes on a school day. Aside from the somewhat uncomfortable seats, the style gave the concert an informality that seemed to fit with Chaplin.

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