Vintage piano is fine match for HippFest

Hippodrome piano arrives after successful fundraising campaign
Hippodrome piano arrives after successful fundraising campaign

There was a very special delivery to The Hippodrome last week when a new piano arrived to play a starring role in the cinema’s annual festival.

The Hippodrome Silent Film Festival, run by Falkirk Community Trust, successfully raised over £4000 to buy the instrument.

The piano comes from the same era as Scotland’s earliest purpose-built cinema and will be a welcome addition to the country’s only silent cinema festival, also known as HippFest.

But you don’t have to wait until next year’s festival to hear it – the piano will make its debut,on Saturday, October 21 at 2.30pm at a screening of Harold Lloyd’s classic comedy Safety Last, accompanied by regular HippFest pianist Mike Nolan.

The screening is part of A Taste of Silents, a brand new autumn season at the Hippodrome designed to introduce the rich, immersive and captivating world of silent film to new audiences.

The chosen model is a Bechstein, a vintage piano built at the beginning of the 20th century, and favoured by musicians from Debussy and Leonard Bernstein to the Beatles and Elton John.

Identified by pianist and HippFest performer Mike Nolan, and put through its paces by festival regular Neil Brand, it was sourced from specialist piano dealers Bonners in the south east of England.

Tony White, of Bonners, said: “We are pleased to have been able to supply a piano which befits the heritage and culture of Scotland’s oldest purpose-built cinema.

“The Bechstein model 9 upright piano was manufactured in the same era as the Hippodrome wasbuilt, and is the perfect instrument to accompany silent films.

“This particular piano was rebuilt in our ownworkshops in Surrey before being selected by one of HippFest’s own pianists as being the ideal instrument.”

Alison Strauss, festival director, said: “The Hippodrome’s year-round audience already knows what a gem this place is but it’s always a thrill when the Festival dates come around and people travel from all over to discover for themselves what a great wee cinema this is – punching well above its weight in terms of programming ambition, impact and downright glamour.”

The Trust raised £4369.30 for the purchase of the piano, from generous donations by individual Hippodrome fans, plus larger donations from the Geraldine Kirkpatrick Charitable Trust, John Wood (Charities Aid Foundation) and Bo’ness Real Ale Appreciation Society, BRAAS).