Oct 2-9, 2022

Program Notes for The Phantom of the Opera: Silent Film with Live Music Featuring Aaron David Miller, organ

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Phantom of the Opera stills with Aaron David Miller at the organ

We're so glad you're here! Please use the links below to find all the great content in the program notes.
Thank you and enjoy the performance!

Links below

Jeff Bieganek

Northrop’s 2022-23 Season promises to bring exquisite artists to our stage. I am excited to experience the amazing dance and music performances in the coming months. I hope you’ll enjoy this season and I encourage you to bring family and friends to share memorable experiences with you.

I invite you to support Northrop’s programs, helping to shine bright lights on our stage. Please consider supporting the important work that Northrop is doing now and in the future to inspire positive change in our world. The Northrop Advisory Board is growing along with new opportunities to engage, if you are interested in learning more, please contact us at northrop@umn.edu. 

I look forward to seeing you, soon, in the theater!

Jeff Bieganek, Northrop Advisory Board Chair

Access Transcript for Opening Speech

In lieu of live captions for this event, please find the transcript for the live opening content below.


Kristen Brodgon: Hello everyone, and welcome to Northrop. My name is Kristen Brogdon. I’m Northrop’s director of artistic and community programs, and I’m delighted to welcome you today, whether you’re here in person or joining us online. 

Before we begin, I first want to acknowledge that the University of Minnesota Twin Cities is built within the traditional, ancestral, and contemporary homelands of Dakota people. Northrop and the University are committed to collaborative relationships with the sovereign Tribal Nations of Minnesota. This land acknowledgment is one of the ways in which we work to educate the campus and community about this land and our relationships with it and each other. I also hope you’ll find time to visit our exhibit Why Canoes in our upstairs gallery to learn more about three Indigenous communities in Minnesota.

I’m thrilled that you’re here with us for this celebratory event to mark the opening of this year’s music series and our Northrop Presents season. This is our first foray into silent film with organ accompaniment, so if you enjoy it, please tell your friends. The on-demand version will be available for one week, and our next silent film event with live music is on October 18. Hysteria, Hypnosis, and Hallucination is a screening of silent cinema shorts featuring local music ensemble Dreamland Faces. It promises to be the perfect combination of spooky and cool and will be available on demand through Halloween.

Northrop is grateful that this performance is supported in part by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

I also want to express my gratitude to two groups of organ enthusiasts, with many members in attendance. The Friends of the Northrop Organ laid the foundation for our Northrop Organ Advisory Board, and without the care and advocacy of both groups, we would not be here today to hear this glorious instrument. Thank you to the Friends and to the past and current members of our Organ Advisory Board.

I’ll round out the thank yous with appreciation for our audience. We are so happy you are with us, and hope you enjoy the program. Please join me in a warm Northrop welcome for Aaron David Miller, who will play the organ onstage alongside today’s screening of The Phantom of the Opera. Welcome, Aaron!

Colorized still of Phantom of the Opera

Silent Films and Music
By Aaron David Miller

Silent films were never intended to be silent. From the earliest days, films were accompanied by live musicians. Small theaters would employ pianists and organists to accompany the film. Larger theaters might hire a small orchestra or band to play. In addition, audiences were often talking, cheering, hissing, and booing at the various characters on the screen. Going to a silent film could be an interactive experience.

In the earliest days of film, keyboardists would improvise to the dramatic content of the film. Oftentimes they would incorporate classical themes, opera themes, and the popular music of the day. The accompanist would try to capture not only the dramatic content, but also the setting. If a film was set in Egypt, the accompanist might rely on Egyptian themes for the film. 

Towards the end of the silent era, film studios started to send out musical themes with the film canisters to each theater. The themes were not a complete film score, but some musical suggestions that could guide the keyboardist through the film. Unfortunately, most of these theme sheets are lost. They were not considered valuable enough to preserve.

In the 1920s, music publishers began printing large anthologies of keyboard music intended for film. The most famous of these was Motion Picture Moods published by G. Schirmer in 1920. Interestingly, the anthology is filled with as many opera and classical themes as popular tunes of the era.

Accompanying a film is different with every performance. Not only does the performer react musically to the film, but also responds to the reactions of the audience. No two film screenings are the same. Every show is different. 


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Lon Chaney as the Phantom

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

The Phantom of the Opera is a silent film adaptation of the 1910 novel Le Fantôme de l'Opéra by author Gaston Leroux. The 1925 film was directed by Rupert Julian and starred Lon Chaney who was considered a master at transforming himself through make-up and acting agility. The initial response to the film in 1925 was neither positive nor particularly critical. The film did not fit the familiar genres of the time. It was neither a mainstream horror film, nor a conventional love story, genres which audiences were familiar with. Over the course of the 20th century, the film gained recognition as an important evolutionary step in film history. It introduced audiences to color-tinted films, advanced editing techniques, and methods for capturing complex stories on film. In 1998, The Phantom of the Opera was inducted into the United States National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.”


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Film still of a chandelier crashing down on the audience
Aaron David Miller

Biography of Aaron David Miller

Aaron David Miller is a renowned organ improviser and composer having won numerous international awards and given concerts across the country. Dr. Miller’s orchestra compositions have been performed by such ensembles as the Seattle Symphony, Chicago Symphony, and Zurich Symphony. Recent composition commissions include works for Yale University, University of California Santa Barbara, The Taylor Organ Competition, and the American Guild of Organists. His organ, choral, and orchestra compositions are published by Augsburg Fortress, Paraclete Publishing, and Oxford University Press. Dr. Miller was the featured artist at the National AGO convention held in Houston, TX in 2016, and is currently Music Director at House of Hope Presbyterian Church in St. Paul, MN. He is also a Forensic Musicologist for Donato Music in Scarsdale, NY. 

Dr. Miller was recently the winner of the 2021 Ronald G. Pogorzelski and Lester D. Yankee Annual Composition Competition. He was also recipient of the 2019 Weiger Lepke-Sims Family Sacred Music Award offered by the The American Harp Society. Awards for Dr. Miller’s organ performances include the Bach and Improvisation prizes at the Calgary International Organ Festival and the top prize at the 1996 American Guild of Organists National Competition in Organ Improvisation in New York.

Dr. Miller earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music where he studied organ performance with David Craighead, Russell Saunders, David Higgs, Michael Farris, and composition with Samuel Adler, Joseph Schwantner, and Christopher Rouse. His graduate studies were taken at the Manhattan School of Music where he completed his Masters and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees studying composition and organ performance with McNeil Robinson. Dr. Miller currently lives in Bloomington, MN with his son Zachary.


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The Northrop Advisory Board

The Northrop Advisory Board is committed to the growth and awareness of Northrop’s mission, vision, and the continued future of presenting world-class dance and music in our community. If you would like more information about the advisory board and its work, please contact Cynthia Betz, Director of Development, at 612-626-7554 or betzx011@umn.edu.

Northrop Advisory Board Members

  • Cynthia Betz
  • Jeff Bieganek, Chair
  • Kristen Brogdon
  • Dr. Robert Bruininks
  • John Conlin
  • Deb Cran
  • Susan DeNuccio
  • Karen Hanson
  • Cari Hatcher
  • Jill Hauwiller
  • Bob McMaster
  • Katheryn Menaged
  • Gary Reetz
  • Robyne Robinson
  • Toni Pierce-Sands
  • Kari Schloner
  • Kao Lee Vang
  • Donald Williams

The Northrop Organ Advisory Board

  • Michael Barone
  • Cynthia Betz
  • Dean Billmeyer
  • Kristen Brogdon
  • Dr. Robert Bruininks
  • Dee Ann Crossley
  • Laura Edman
  • Cathie Fischer
  • Nils Halker
  • Cari Hatcher
  • Pamela Neuenfeldt
  • Kari Schloner

Thank you for supporting Northrop!

Make Legendary Performances Possible!

At Northrop, we believe in connecting great artists and ideas with our community and to a new generation of audiences. Your gift helps make memorable arts experiences possible by supporting extraordinary performances and new arts commissions, and helping ensure accessibility to everyone through live-streamed programming, outreach to diverse communities and subsidized student tickets. Our Friends are at the center of Northrop’s biggest ideas and brightest moments on stage.

Become a Friend of Northrop today! 
Donate online at northrop.umn.edu/support-northrop

Ways to Give:

  • Annual Giving, a yearly gift amount of your choice.
  • Monthly Giving, choose a recurring gift amount that works for you.
  • Stock Gifts, Northrop accepts charitable gifts of stock.
  • Planned Giving, consider a legacy gift by including Northrop in your will or trust, or by designating Northrop as a beneficiary of a retirement plan or life insurance policy.
  • Matching Gifts, double your gift through your company’s matching gift program.

To learn more about supporting Northrop please contact:
Cynthia Betz
betzx011@umn.edu or 612-626-7554 

Friends of Northrop

A special thank you to our patrons whose generous support makes Northrop's transformative arts experiences possible. Make your mark on Northrop's future by becoming a Friend today, learn more by visiting northrop.umn.edu/support-northrop.

We gratefully acknowledge the support from, Arts Midwest Touring Fund, Minnesota State Arts Board, Marbrook Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and New England Foundation for the Arts.

We extend a special thank you to our event sponsors the Graduate Hotel Minneapolis, PNC Bank, and RBC Wealth Management.   

Director's Circle


  • Drs. Robert Bruininks and Susan Hagstrum
  • Robert Lunieski


  • Jerry Artz
  • Kurt and Susan Bjorklund, Dedicated to Silas and Victoria Ford
  • Ellie Crosby, The Longview and Crosswols Foundations
  • Nancy Gossell
  • Richard Gregory
  • Randy Hartten and Ron Lotz
  • Jennifer Marrone and David Short


  • Nancy and John Conlin
  • Susan DeNuccio
  • Gail and Stuart Hanson
  • Gail and Jack Kochie
  • Shawn Monaghan and Greg Plotnikoff
  • Thomas and Conchy Morgan, In Memory of Sylvia and Henry Frisch 
  • Sandra Morris
  • Gary A. Reetz
  • Scarborough Fair Boutique
  • Donald Williams and Pamela Neuenfeldt

Friend's Circle


  • Mary Benson
  • Frederick L. Betz
  • Jeff Bieganek
  • Rob Carlson and Gregg Larson
  • Fran Davis
  • Karen Hanson and Dennis Senchuk
  • Minhchau and Lawrence Harms
  • Sally and Richard Leider
  • Bob and Susanna McMaster
  • Tim and Gayle Ober
  • Marianne Remedios and John Wald
  • Stephanie Rupp
  • Kathryn Sedo and Scott Beers


  • Anonymous
  • Margaret Albrecht
  • Jeanne Andre
  • Kathryn Cahill, In Honor of Ferne Rowland
  • R. and J. Cameron
  • Will and Ginny Craig
  • Stephen Davis and L Murray Thomas
  • Meghan DeBruycker Legacy Fund-Willmar Area Community Foundation
  • Peter and Kathy Ganzer
  • Ramona Hanneken
  • Glenn Lindsey
  • Mark and Cecilia Morrow
  • Robin Oertel
  • Lance Olson
  • Richard Taylor


  • Anonymous
  • Elissa Adams and Michael Margulies
  • Paul Aslanian
  • Thomas and Jill Barland
  • Bill and Julie Brady
  • Kristen Brogdon
  • Kate and Christianson
  • Deb Cran and Bob Craven
  • Diane Demos
  • Pat Gaarder
  • Stephen Gordon and Patricia Gavan-Gordon
  • Denise and Corey Holtz
  • Kimberly Hutchens
  • Jennifer and Mark Johnson
  • Emily Maltz
  • David Musolf
  • Mason and Gwen Myers
  • Derrill Pankow
  • Elizabeth Parker
  • Shannon Pierce
  • Ann Piotrowski
  • Kathleen Porter
  • Patricia and Joseph Pulice
  • Holly Radis-McCluskey and Glen McCluskey
  • John Reay and Karen Hanson
  • Danielle Robinson-Prater and Joel Prater
  • Gordon Rouse and Sylvia Beach
  • Bonnie Vidlund
  • Cheryl Wall
  • Steven and Barb Zawadski


  • Anonymous
  • Atashi Acharya
  • Jan Adams
  • Marcia Anderson
  • Joseph Bingham
  • Mayrinda Cain
  • Karen Charles
  • Stephen and Mary Chicoine
  • Sandra Daly
  • Melissa Davis
  • Timothy and Judith Dove
  • Robert Dufault and Ann Wilcox
  • Jean Durades
  • William Durfee and Devorah Goldstein
  • George Ehrenberg
  • Kristin Elizondo
  • Annalee Gray
  • Lisa and Dan Gray
  • Kathy Gremillion
  • Joan Haldeman
  • Nancy Hammer
  • Catherine Hart and Andes Gonzalez Leon
  • Cari and Matthew Hatcher
  • Richard Hruby and Kimberly Broderick
  • William Humphrey
  • Ann Jaede
  • Barry and Karen Johnson
  • Tovio Kallas and Beatrice Holton
  • Dana and Eric Kassel
  • Micki and Neil Kay
  • Leslie Koepke
  • Jeffrey Land
  • Laura Landy
  • Alan and Peggy Lathrop
  • James and Sharon Lewis
  • Mary McKenna
  • Toni McNaron
  • Kelly McQueen
  • Margaret Michaelson
  • Sally Moore
  • Michael and Lisa Nekich
  • Stephen Nelson and Joan Bren
  • Sarita Parikh
  • David and Mary Parker
  • Donald Pastor and David Goldstein
  • Bridget and David Reddan
  • Debra Reischl
  • James Schmitz and Sara Thompson
  • John Shreves
  • Dimitri Smirnoff
  • Wendy Steele
  • Barbara Stoll
  • Ertugrul and Karen Owens Tuzcu
  • Michael Weinbeck
  • Cathy Westrum and Annelynn Westrum
  • Monica Winker-Bergstrom
  • Millie Woodbury
  • Mark Wright and Elizabeth Walton

Up to $99

  • Berit Ahlgren
  • Kent Akervik
  • Gerald and Georgianna Allan
  • Kevin and Shirley Arms
  • Robert Arntsen
  • Michael and Jessica Austin
  • Elizabeth and Wolfgang Bergman
  • Anna Betz
  • Tierra Boose
  • Mary Boyer
  • Patti Brase
  • Willie Bridges
  • Kristin Card
  • Ariel Carter
  • JaNan Cavanaugh
  • Betty Clark
  • David and Nancy Claussen
  • Virginia Dale
  • Vicki Donatell
  • Dake Dorris
  • Byron Douglass
  • Frances Durkin
  • Marcia and Berkan Endres
  • Valerie Fazedin
  • Jessie Fett
  • Susan Gahan
  • Joanne and John Gordon
  • Birgit Grund
  • Jeffrey Haddorf
  • Michael Hamerski and Susan Thurston-Hammerski
  • Paul and Charlotte Hardt
  • David and Julie Hartung
  • Joyce and Eugene Haselmann
  • Jill Hauwiller
  • Addie Hazelton
  • Laura Helgeson
  • Mary Helmin
  • Colleen Hermann
  • Christina Herzog
  • Susan Hommeyer
  • Sheri Horton
  • Janet Horvath
  • Jerome and Judith Ingber
  • Ann Ivey
  • Ramona Jacobs and Charles Christianson
  • Janet Johnson
  • Ronald Joki
  • David Kearn
  • Joan and Timothy Kenny
  • Cassandra Kiehn
  • Dwayne King
  • Carrie Klemenhagen
  • Thomas and Mary Kuhn
  • Doni Kvam
  • Mike and Sharon Lane
  • Linda Leamer
  • Kathryn LeFevere
  • Jane Leonard and Lori Lippert
  • Barbara Lind and Craig Poeschel
  • Nancy Litin
  • Ann Loushine-Thomsen
  • Marcelienne and Roger Lundquist
  • Nancy Marcy
  • Cynthia Marsh and C.W. Vandersluis

Up to $99 (continued)

  • Kenneth and Judith Matysik
  • Robert and Kristin McClanahan
  • Alli Mertins
  • Sanjay Mishra
  • Jill Mitchell
  • Daniel Moore and Laura Tempel
  • Summer Morrison
  • Scott Nelson and Roxanne Hart
  • William and Jennifer Neujahr
  • Shelley and James Nichols
  • Nina Norum and Ronald Haysl
  • Barbara Owens
  • Carol and Peter Parshall
  • Matthew Peak
  • Marjorie Pearson
  • Beth Peck
  • Christina Peterson
  • Elizabeth Peterson
  • Charisse Pickron
  • Steven Pincus and Michelle Strangis
  • Mary Roberts and Edward Kraft
  • Susan Rohde
  • Maria Rosengren
  • Edward Sarnoski
  • Hollie Schultz
  • Thomas Scott
  • James Sewell and Sally Rouse
  • Elizabeth Sharpe
  • Michele and Chris Shepherd
  • Rebecca and John Shockley
  • Jan and Alan Sickbert
  • Barbara Sletten
  • Emily Soltis
  • Theodore Sothern and Barry Leon
  • Richard Steege
  • Ronald Stevens
  • Vicki Strahan
  • Jonathan Tallman
  • Marie-Luise and Anita Teigen
  • Ivette Tejeda
  • Jon Thomas
  • Rodney and Carol Thompson
  • Michelle Tolliver
  • Kay Troan
  • Kathleen Tuma
  • Nancy Tykwinski
  • David Ulaszek
  • Alla Valdberg
  • Tatiana Valdberg
  • Bill Venne and Douglas Kline
  • Carolyn Wahl
  • Samuel Walling
  • Renee Warmuth
  • Kathleen Warner
  • Jeanie Watson
  • Brian and Katherine Weitz
  • Darryl and Janet Weivoda
  • Jonathon White
  • Mary Wiley
  • Clay and Karen Williams
  • Rachel Wolff
  • Roger Worm
  • Yuhsuan Yeh
  • Roberta Zohara

This season’s listing is current as of 9/26/22

Please contact Trisha Taylor at taylort@umn.edu if you have any corrections or questions.

Northrop's Aeolian-Skinner Organ

Thank you to the generous donors who continue to support programming for Northrop’s beloved Aeolian-Skinner Organ. It is because of you that this magnificent instrument’s voice will be enjoyed by many for years to come.

Organ Supporters

  • Dean Billmeyer
  • Drs. Robert Bruininks and Susan Hagstrum
  • Dee Ann and Kent Crossley
  • David Cruickshank
  • Salvatore Franco
  • Reid Froiland
  • Nils and Heather Halker
  • Charlie Johnson
  • Joseph Kuznik
  • Kristin Lefferts
  • Peter Lund
  • Pamela Neuenfeldt and Don Williams
  • Holly Radis-McCluskey and Glen McCluskey
  • David and Rachelle Willey

The Heritage Society Members

The Heritage Society honors and celebrates donors who have made estate and other planned gifts for Northrop at the University of Minnesota. 

  • Nancy M Allen*
  • Jerry L Artz
  • John W Follows*
  • Stephen Gordon and Pat Gavan-Gordon
  • Peter S Lund
  • Darlene M Sholtis


We extend a special thank you to our event sponsors the Graduate Hotel Minneapolis, PNC Bank, and RBC Wealth Management.

Graduate Minneapolis logo
PNC Bank logo
RBC Wealth Management logo

Additional Support By

Minnesota State Arts Board - Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.