Schenectady Symphony Highlights Number One with Green, Bizet, and David Keen’s Film & Score

David Keen | Boof Margerine3:00 pm • Sunday, January 14th 2018
Proctors Theater • Schenectady, NY

After attending the Chamber Music America annual conference this past week, all things chamber music are swirling around the mind. But, as performers’ careers are part of the conference conversations, the musician’s “portfolio” and need for diversification in today’s world is also front and center. Mix in love of music and film, and naturally the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra’s concert on Sunday jumps out as the weekend’s performance of interest.

This Sunday, with Maestro Charles Schneider on the podium, the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra continues it’s 2017-18 season. The concert program includes:

  • Edward Green — Symphony No. 1
  • George Bizet — Symphony No. 1
  • David KeenThe Adventures of Boof Margarine

At first glance the program seems to be all about first symphonies with Edward Green’s Symphony No. 1 and Bizet’s Symphony No. 1, but add in David Keen’s homage to the comedies of the golden era of silent film, the program takes a different twist. While it seems a bit unclear whether or not The Adventures of Boof Margarine is Keen’s first silent film with orchestra score, the composer and filmmaker has an interesting back story with connections to the region.

David Keen grew up in Niskayuna, was exposed to classical music by is parents, and is an alumnus of Niskayuna High School and the Empire State Youth Orchestra for which he was the concert master for three years. While in high school, he also performed with the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra. Following musical studies at Purchase, Keen based himself in New York City and pursued a professional freelance career as a classical violinist and bass-player performing with a variety of ensembles and performers all over the country and the world. Keen also began to branch out into other creative worlds with his progressive rock group Baba Yaga and with his interest in silent film. In Baba Yaga, he sang lead and played guitar and violin. Baba Yaga recorded a self-titled album in 2011, and in 2013 they wrote the intro theme music for “Hobbit Week” on the Stephen Colbert Show. Between gigs, Keen delved into film and his love of Carl Stalling, the American composer and arranger for music in animated films. Through self-study, hard work, and the vast resources online, as well as direct help of some top cinematographers, filmmakers and writers along the way, Keen began noticing the things he loves most in life, humor, tragedy, and the mystery of our human feelings and relationships were expressed in cinema. He then began to develop this weekend’s star character, Boof Margarine, through short clips.

While Boof Margarine began as a joke—little miniatures from the life of a character out of the Three Stooges or Laurel and Hardy that Dave dreamed up while taking breaks from studying cinematography, or after a long day working as a musician—it became a pastime. Each episode was designed to last 30 seconds or so, a tongue-in-cheek hat-tip to the bygone era. Eventually this pastime led to partnering with actor and filmmaker Rob Buchwald to create a full-length episode of Boof Margarine with original music. Rob created and portrays Boof’s live-in gal Mabel. The original intent was to retain the brevity non-story form of the short clips, but Buchwald insisted on doing a nice little funny story. The result is The Adventures of Boof Margarine highlighting the sights and sounds of vaudeville, which the Schenectady Symphony will be performing the original score and film in a venue that was once a regular hub for silent films and vaudevillian entertainment.

It’s nice to see the Schenectady Symphony showcasing the work of a composer with ties to the region… and to learn how Keen’s early training launched what is an interesting and creative career. Hope you get to take in what, no doubt, will be an engaging program on Sunday afternoon. Tickets range from $12 to $20 and rumor has those who are 18 and younger can attend at no charge when accompanied by an adult with a paid ticket. Tickets are available through the Proctors box office.

Happy musicking this weekend!


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