Local American Theatre Organ Society Chapter Hosts Silent Cinema Tribute to Dave Knudtson

MSUM’s School of Media Arts & Design and the Red River Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society (RRATOS) are teaming up for an evening of silent comedy shorts in honor of the late local musician and film lover Dave Knudtson at 7:30 p.m. Monday, July 9 in Glasrud Auditorium.

Knudtson, who passed away last March, played a vital role in the Fargo-Moorhead area’s movie and classic film scene. He composed and played scores for silent films on the theatre pipe organ for over 30 years around the community and helped begin the initial restoration of the Fargo Theatre Wurlitzer in the 1970s, says RRATOS President Ryan Hardy.

“(Dave) was always willing to help others, whether it was producing new RRATOS events, answering questions about film, radio and technology, or welcoming organists to his home to practice on his impressive pipe organ in his basement theatre – which he called Cinema III,” Hardy says.

The films shown at the tribute on Monday will be accompanied by live pipe-organ music to honor Knudtson.

RRATOS President Ryan Hardy watches Dave Knudtson play the pipe organ at MSUM in 2015.

This aligns with the mission of the RRATOS, which intends to re-introduce silent films to the Fargo-Moorhead community in a way that is entertaining, educational and true to the history of silent film, Hardy says.

“People have seen silent movies playing on TV or on YouTube, but the experience of watching these historic and entertaining films in a movie theatre full of people with a live score is an experience that cannot be replicated at home,” he adds. “It is the combination of the powerful and moving sounds of a fully acoustic instrument and the community watching the film that makes the silent film experience so special in (our) area.”

Glasrud Auditorium is located in Weld Hall on the MSUM Campus. Pre-show organ music will begin at 7:15 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, but free-will offerings will be accepted with proceeds donated to the Red River Chapter of American Theatre Organ Society in Knudtson’s memory.

Ice-cream treats will be served at the end of the evening.

For more information about the RRATOS, visit www.rratos.org.

All photos are courtesy of the RRATOS.

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