Duke Performances is now Duke Arts presents. Learn more.

Duke Arts Presents

In Conversation: Jenny Scheinman & Finn Taylor with Tom Rankin

Wednesday, March 18, 2015 | 7:00 pm

In Conversation: Jenny Scheinman & Finn Taylor with Tom Rankin

Duke professor and director of Duke’s MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts, Tom Rankin, will talk with composer, violinist, and singer Jenny Scheinman and filmmaker Finn Taylor about the interdisciplinary process of creating Kannapolis: A Moving Portrait and the experience of working with the films of H. Lee Waters.

Wednesday, March 18, 7 PM
Full Frame Theater, American Tobacco Campus, 320 Blackwell St., Durham
Free & open to the public


Duke Performances has commissioned Jenny Scheinman, an acclaimed composer, singer, and violinist, to make an original live score set to 70-year-old archival footage taken by the late North Carolina filmmaker H. Lee Waters. Scheinman and her musical sidemen — Robbie Fulks and Robbie Gjersoe — will create a soundtrack of new folksongs, fiddle music, and field sounds to accompany Waters’ fascinating footage of the Piedmont in the early ’40s, masterfully stitched together by film director Finn Taylor and film editor Rick LeCompte. “Scheinman [has] a distinctive vision of American music, suffused with plainspoken beauty and fortified all at once by country, gospel, and melting-pot folk, along with jazz and the blues” (New York Times).

During the ’30s and ’40s, H. Lee Waters made more than 200 films capturing life in the Piedmont, which he called Movies of Local People. The full slate of Waters’ movies — the only such collection from an itinerant American filmmaker of the era — are now housed at Duke’s Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Scheinman, who recently recorded The Littlest Prisoner for Sony Masterworks with Bill Frisell and Brian Blade, employs her formidable musical ingenuity to make a stirring new presentation drawing from this rich artifact of American cinema.

Photo of Tom Rankin by Jeremy Lange.

Made possible, in part, with an award from the National Endowment for the Arts; a grant from The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation; a grant from New Music USA; a Visiting Artist Grant from the Council for the Arts, Office of the Provost, Duke University; support from the Archive of Documentary Arts at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University; and a gift from Neil D. Karbank.