Rick Friend, Composer & Pianist
A native of Clifton, New Jersey, Rick Friend studied piano and composition at the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music.
An avid movie buff since childhood, Rick became interested in silent movies in his high school days, when, just for fun, he and his friends rented from the library a 20 minute version of Buster Keaton’s The General. Watching it in silence for a few minutes irked his curiosity to go over to the piano and start improvising for the film as it played. From then on, he was hooked on silent movie music improvisation. Serious improvisations began 20 years later at the Loyola Movie Palace in Los Angeles, California, where he accompanied international silent movies such as Faust, and Madame Dubarry. At this point Rick realized that there are so many great movies from the silent era that he decided to make a career of it. He played for 4 seasons of the Toronto International Film Festival’s Open Vault Series, and in 1987 began playing for the Toronto Film Society. He became involved in Cinemateque Ontario, accompanying their showings of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, and Carl Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc. Later, he mounted his own showing of The Passion of Joan of Arc with his own score for 9 musicians, at The Music Gallery in Toronto. Also, he has appeared as soloist with various orchestras, performing his arrangements for The Mark of Zorro, The General, The Phantom of the Opera, Nosferatu, and The Thief of Bagdad. He has appeared with The Atlanta Symphony, The Saint Louis Symphony, The Fort Worth Symphony, the Orchestre Symphonique de Quebec, Elgin Symphony, IL, the Ocean City Pops in New Jersey, and repeatedly with the symphony orchestras of Springfield, MA, Regina, SK, Traverse City, MI, and Saskatoon, SK.
Rick joined the Savannah Music Festival 3 times, performing his piano scores for F.W. Murnau’s Sunrise, Alfred Hitchcock’s Blackmail, and Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid. And he has played at the Silent Movie Theater in Hollywood, California
In 1997, Rick helped Toronto honor their own Mary Pickford (1891 — 1979) in a TV biography special, “The Life and Times of Mary Pickford” which airs periodically on CBC. In the same year, he finished scoring a dramatic short film, The Red Window. His piece Wilcox Street for brass quintet was performed in Los Angeles.
Rick has developed a never ending passion for live music with silent movies. His favorite venue is the symphony orchestra, which serves well the values, moods, and feelings in these great movies from the 1920’s. His mission is to bring this new/old art form to audiences.