If you go
What: Scott Foppiano performs to the silent movie, "Ben-Hur"
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Forrest Burdette United Methodist Church, Hurricane
Cost: $10 for adults, $5 for students
Most Sundays you will find Scott Foppiano behind the organ at his home church. St. Vincent de Paul in Kansas City, Mo., where he also serves as choirmaster.
Yet Foppiano welcomes the challenge and chance to play great organs in other cities and particularly to show a bit of the instrument's secular side.
Friday night, he'll visit Forrest Burdette United Methodist Church in Hurricane, where he'll perform music during a screening of the 1925 silent movie version of "Ben-Hur," the historical drama set in ancient Rome.
It's a return to days of old, when orchestras were employed to play for the silent movies.
"There was an orchestral score for the movies and there were organ cue sheets," Foppiano said. "In the bigger, deluxe theaters, the organ would play along with the orchestra during the movies. And then, after so many showings, just the organist would play."
Foppiano said because organists had cue sheets rather than full sheet music scores, they had latitude with the music. It also requires special proficiency.
"I discovered I had a knack for it," he said.
Performing for a movie requires a lot of stamina. In the case of "Ben-Hur," the movie lasts two and a half hours. Even with an intermission, that's a lot of continued playing time for an organist who likely is accustomed to playing four or five hymns during a church service.
"But the biggest challenge is that as you are playing, you have to be able to watch the screen and control the organ as an instrument," Foppiano said.
"My biggest trick is to know the film and to know what's coming next."