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Watch Chaplin, hear live music

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Growing up in Yellow Springs, Martha Hyde remembers well as a high school student attending a Charlie Chaplin film festival in the mid-1970s. She went every night to the festival, she said in a recent interview.

Almost  40 years later, Hyde returns to the Little Art as one of three musicians of the New River Ensemble, who will perform original music set to the silent classics of Chaplin and Buster Keaton.

“It feels like closing the circle,” she said.

Hyde, who will play clarinet, flute and piccolo, will join pianist and ukulele player Brendan Cooney and cellist Lisa Liske-Doorandish in the performance on Thursday, Jan. 15, at 7:30 p.m. The group will play original music composed by Cooney for the classic silent films.

The event offers villagers a chance to experience something both old and new, Hyde said.

“It’s a chance to see silent films the way they used to be presented, with live music,” she said. “But the music has been updated.” And because much of the music will be improvised, “People will hear something that’s never been heard before. It’s different every time.”

For the Keaton films, Cooney has created “urban streetscape sounds,” such as might have been found in the 1920s, including ragtime, jazz, boogie-woogie and klezmer music. Chaplin films traditionally were accompanied by classical music, so Cooney used a classical style “with a twist,” Hyde said, since Chaplin himself was a mischief-maker.

The performance is part of a larger tour of Ohio, West Virginia and Indiana by the musicians, during which they’ll present workshops in schools, give a performance at the Cleveland Institute of Art and other venues and take part in a residency at the Denison University Winter Festival.

Along the way, according to Hyde, the three will be ambassadors for Friends Music Camp, where they have all been longtime faculty members. The camp is unique in offering a safe place to not only grow as a musician but also to experiment and try new things, according to Hyde.

“It’s a very fertile place for people to learn,” she said. “That’s what keeps me coming back.”

The daughter of Carl and Lorena Hyde of Yellow Springs, Martha Hyde has lived in New York City since 1979, making her living playing in Latin dance bands, as a regular pit musician in Broadway shows, at the Radio City Music Hall, and also, most recently, as a teacher. Hyde has also performed at Avery Fisher Hall, St. John the Divine Cathedral and CBGB. among other venues.

But she’s very pleased to be performing in her hometown.

“The Little Art has been a beloved venue for me since I was old enough to remember going downtown,” Hyde wrote in a press release for the concert. “I have played in all three public schools in Yellow Springs, Kelly Hall at Antioch and several area churches as well as the old Memorial Hall in Springfield with the Springfield Symphony. None of these spaces is more beloved by me than the Little Art Theatre.”

Tickets for the performance are priced at $12 ($9 for seniors and students if purchased in advance), and $15 ($11 for seniors and students) if purchased at the door.

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