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Master organist, Jacobs School alumnus returns to IU for Halloween showing of Nosferatu

Just in time for Halloween, pipe organist Dennis James puts a spooky twist on Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror, a cult horror movie from the silent film era. His performance will be at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29, at IU Auditorium.

James -- an alumnus of IU's Jacobs School of Music -- matches the on-screen action with the eerie, resonating tones of the Roosevelt IU Auditorium Organ, one of the largest pipe organs in the United States.

Currently a research fellow at University of South Carolina, James has been called "the world's greatest silent film organ player" by David Packard of the Stanford Theatre Foundation and "a national treasure" by Stephen Salmons, artistic director of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival.

As an IU student, James played cymbals in the Marching Hundred and was the piano accompanist for the Singing Hoosiers. He performed his first public organ accompaniment to the Phantom of the Opera at IU Auditorium in 1969.

"Dennis James is a perennial favorite of his alma mater," said IU Auditorium Director Doug Booher. "We're pleased to invite him back just in time to say 'trick or treat' to the Bloomington community."

Nosferatu is a 1922 piece of German Expressionist cinema based on Bram Stoker's 1897gothic horror novel Dracula. The film's director, F.W. Murnau, stands alongside D. W. Griffith as one of the giants of the silent film era. Although just one copy of the film survived the 1920s -- all other copies were destroyed when Stoker's family accused the film's producers of copyright infringement -- Nosferatu has outlasted many other films from the silent film era.

James has presented live accompaniment for silent films with piano, theatre organ, chamber ensembles and full symphony orchestras across the United States and overseas since 1971. He is also actively involved in the preservation and restoration of theater organs.

Tickets for the show, scheduled for 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29, at IU Auditorium, range from $13-$18 for the general public and $7-$15 for IU Bloomington students.

Sponsored by Walnut Grove spring water and National Public Radio member station WFIU 103.7, tickets are available through the Auditorium Box Office by phone at 812-855-1103 and online at