Enjoy a lively performance at MAKEnight as Tom Roberts performs his original score to two classic, hilarious silent films by
About the Tom Roberts/Charlie Chaplin Project
In 2011, the Pittsburgh Symphony approached pianist, arranger, and composer Tom Roberts to compose new scores for two of the Chaplin Mutual masterpieces: One A.M, and The Rink. This lively performance will include Roberts on piano and accompanied by clarinet, as they perform the original score to two hilarious films by Charlie Chaplin.
In One A.M., Chaplin plays a gentleman who returns home late after a night of drinking and simply wants to go inside and go to bed. In this virtuosic solo pantomime performance, we see inanimate objects come to life in Chaplin’s altered state of mind. Truly one of the great short masterpieces of film!
In The Rink , Chaplin plays a waiter who wreaks havoc upon his customers and co-workers, but during his breaks, he frequents a roller skating rink and is transformed into a graceful dancer. During one visit, he tries to win the affections of a lovely young lady by masquerading as a gentleman. When she invites him to her party, he encounters his customers and causes pandemonium in the rink.
For his scores, Roberts used musical styles and genres that would have appropriate for 1916 when the films were made. In addition to ragtime, foxtrots, tangos, and waltzes, he utilizes more exotic elements as the French Vals Musette and Brazilian Choros, both styles that would have perhaps been performed with these scores in their respective countries.
The public has been delighted with the results. Author, choreographer, and mime, Dan Kamen calls them “wonderful, knowing, witty scores.” One audience member described the experience of watching the films as “like being in a dream and entering a new, magical world.”
About Tom Roberts
Pianist, composer, and arranger Tom Roberts is one of the leading exponents of early jazz piano in the world today (as stated by Ricardo Sciavales in The Heart and Soul of Stride, Blues, and Swing Piano).
He has performed on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Kiellor. He was the featured pianist at the International Stride Piano Summit in Zurich, Switzerland 2001 and 2009. Tom was pianist for Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks in New York City (recent Grammy winners for the soundtrack to Boardwalk Empire) and pianist and musical director for Leon Redbone for six years. Tom has performed twice at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 2003, once with Skitch Henderson and the New York Pops. He was featured in 2003 in solo with Dick Hyman at the prestigious Jazz In July series at New York’s 92nd St. Y. Tom has performed multiple times at The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage festival including a solo performance at The Professor Longhair Society’s Piano Night At Tipitina’s . He has performed throughout Europe as a member of multiple ensembles from New Orleans and as a member of The Ortner Roberts Duo
Tom has composed new musical scores for The Charlie Chaplin films One A.M. and The Rink through a commision from The Pittsburgh Symphony. The scores were premiered at The Leopold Mozart Conservatory in Augsburg Germany and then performed in Pittsburgh at Heinz Hall in May 2012 as part of the Pittsburgh Symphony Paris Festival The City of Light. He is currently working on a score for a newly restored version of The Pawnshop. He composed a new score for the Gloria Swanson film Stage Struck, performed at The Andy Warhol Museum. Tom has composed music for two films by The Allegheny City Society. He also composed a large scale choral work based on the poetry of Langston Hughes which was performed by The Bach Choir of Pittsburgh
As an arranger Tom has arranged and performed the music for the soundtrack of Martin Scorsese’s film The Aviator, starring Leonardo di Caprio. for the syndicated PRI show Riverwalk Jazz, Live from the Landing with the Jim Cullum Jazz Band, and a number of pieces for Wynton Marsalis and The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra for a concert of the music of Louis Armstrong. A number of his arrangements were also featured at the prestigious Jazz in July with Dick Hyman at Manhattan’s 92nd St Y for the centennial commemorations of Bix Beiderbecke, Joe Venuti and Benny Goodman.
In 2008 for the 250th anniversary of the founding of Pittsburgh, he arranged Oscar Levant’s Blame It On My Youth and a medley of Earl Hines compostions for The Pittsburgh Concert Chorale. In 2012 he arranged music for the Pittsburgh Jewish Music Festival including settings of Scott Joplin and Louis Armstrong re-imagined from a Jewish perspective.
Originally from Pittsburgh, Tom has lived and performed in New Orleans and in NewYork in Harlem.
Tom has recorded over 40 compact discs.
Besides his pianistic artistry, Tom is a versatile music historian with special focus on the Early Jazz era . He has contributed articles for magazines such as Piano Today and is a frequent guest at National Public Radio. Recently he has researched the early years of jazz in Pittsburgh and presents a lecture entitled The Forgotten History of Pittsburgh Jazz: Pittsburgh in the Roaring Twenties.
He frequently appears as a guest host on Ryhthm Sweet and Hot on 90.5 WESA.