Friday, May 12, 2017

Tonight only: Take flight with 'Wings' at Webster (N.H.) Public Library/Town Hall

Original promotional art for 'Wings.'

Very much looking forward to doing music for 'Wings' (1927) tonight (Friday, May 12).

The screening is at yet another small town New Hampshire venue—in Webster, a town due north of Concord, at the local Public Library/Town Hall.

We're starting at 6 p.m. so if you're planning to join us and experience this great film, be sure to have an early dinner and get down to join us.

Many thanks to everyone at the Webster Public Library and Webster Historical Society for including 'Wings' as part of a series of local events marking the centennial of the U.S. entry into World War I.

And thanks also to the N.H. Humanities Council for helping underwrite this program. First time that's ever happened for me!

For more details, check out the press release below. See you there!

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Buddy Rogers, Clara Bow, and Richard Arlen in uniform for 'Wings.'

Contact Jeff Rapsis • (603) 236-9237 •

Epic silent film 'Wings' (1927) to be shown on Friday, 5/12 at Webster Public Library/Town Hall

Sprawling story of U.S. aviators in World War I won first-ever 'Best Picture'; screening features live musical accompaniment

WEBSTER, N.H.—The Webster Public Library and Webster Historical Society are going Hollywood with a special screening of 'Wings' (1927), an epic adventure film set in World War I that won 'Best Picture' honors at the very first Academy Awards ceremony.

'Wings' will be revived for one showing only on Friday, May 12 at 6 p.m. at Webster Public Library/Town Hall, 947 Battle St. (Route 127) in Webster, N.H.

The program, sponsored by the library and historical society with a grant from the N.H. Humanities Council, is part of a series of local events to commemorate the centennial of the U.S. involvement in World War I.

Admission to the show is free, although donations are accepted. The public is welcome to attend.

The screening will feature live music by New Hampshire-based silent film accompanist Jeff Rapsis, a New England based composer who specializes in creating music for silent film presentations.

The show will allow audiences to experience silent film the way its makers originally intended: on the big screen, with live music, and with an audience.

'Wings,' a blockbuster hit in its original release, recounts the adventures of U.S. pilots flying combat missions behind enemy lines at the height of World War I in Europe. 'Wings' stunned audiences with its aerial dogfight footage, vivid and realistic battle scenes, and dramatic love-triangle plot.

'Wings' stars Clara Bow, Charles 'Buddy' Rogers, and Richard Arlen. The rarely-seen film also marked one of the first screen appearances of Gary Cooper, who plays a supporting role. Directed by William Wellman, 'Wings' was lauded by critics for its gripping story, superb photography, and technical innovations.

'Wings' is notable as one of the first Hollywood films to take audiences directly into battlefield trenches and vividly depict combat action. Aviation buffs will also enjoy 'Wings' as the film is filled with scenes of vintage aircraft from the early days of flight.

Seen today, the film also allows contemporary audiences a window into the era of World War I, which was underway in Europe a century ago. The U.S. entered the war in 1917.

" 'Wings' is not only a terrific movie, but seeing it on the big screen is also a great chance to appreciate what earlier generations of servicemen and women endured," accompanist Jeff Rapsis said.

"It's a war that has faded somewhat from our collective consciousness, but it defined life in the United States for a big chunk of the 20th century. This film captures how World War I affected the nation, and also shows in detail what it was like to serve one's country a century ago."

Rapsis, a composer who specializes in film music, will create a score for 'Wings' on the spot, improvising the music as the movie unfolds to enhance the on-screen action as well as respond to audience reactions. Rapsis performs the music on a digital synthesizer, which is capable of producing a wide range of theatre organ and orchestral textures.

"Live music was an integral part of the silent film experience," Rapsis said. "At the time, most films weren't released with sheet music or scores. Studios relied on local musicians to come up with an effective score that was different in every theater. At its best, this approach created an energy and a connection that added a great deal to a film's impact. That's what I try to recreate," Rapsis said.

'Wings' is about 2½ hours long. The film is a family-friendly drama but not suitable for very young children due to its length and intense wartime battle scenes. Also, attendees are encouraged to bring cushions to use on the venue's chairs.

The program is part of the "Museums Sharing Experiences" group, which is coordinating activities in many locations around the theme of "Over There, Over Here: World War I and Life in N.H. Communities." For more information, visit

‘Wings’ will be shown with live music on Friday, May 12 at 6 p.m. at Webster Public Library/Town Hall, 947 Battle St. (Route 127) in Webster, N.H. The program, organized by the Webster Public Library and Webster Historical Society, is free and open to the public. For more info, visit For more info about the music, visit

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