Interlochen Arts Academy pianist, Steve Larson, Accompanies
‘The Son of the Sheik’ starring Rudolph Valentino
This was Valentino’s final film, considered by many critics his best. He plays the son of the Sheik who falls in love with the wrong woman and finds himself held for ransom by a den of Moorish thieves.
In this dramatic adventure set in the south of Algiers, in a camp of outcasts, the Frenchman André (George Fawcett) leads a troupe of mountebanks and thieves. His daughter Yasmin (Vilma Banky) is the dancer of the group and is promised to the cutthroat Moor Ghobah (Montague Love). However, Yasmin meets Ahmed (Rudolph Valentino), who is the Sheik’s son but she does not know, and they fall in love for each other. When the young couple secretly dates in the ruins of Touggourt, where Yasmin dances, the criminals attack Ahmed, beat up and capture him, expecting to ask for a ransom. Ghobah poisons Ahmed, telling that Yasmin is a bait to lure victims for them. Ahmed escapes, and he abducts Yasmin and despises her.
Will Ahmed believe that Yasmin set him up for capture? Even if true love finds a way through webs of deceit, what will the vigorous and imposing sheik say about his son consorting with a dancing girl?
An advanced screening of The Son of the Sheik was shown at the Million Dollar Theater in Los Angeles on July 9, 1926. Valentino then embarked on a nationwide tour to promote the film. On August 15, he collapsed in his New York City hotel room and was rushed to the hospital. Doctors discovered he had a perforated ulcer which required emergency surgery. After the surgery, Valentino developed peritonitis and died on August 23, 1926.
The Son of the Sheik was released nationwide on September 5, 1926, nearly two weeks after Valentino’s death. The film was an instant hit with audiences and grossed $1,000,000 within the first year of its release. Eventually it more than doubled that.
At IAA, Steve Larson has played in recitals and chamber music festivals throughout the Midwest including the Absolutely Amadeus festival, the Manitou Music Festival and Chamber Music North. As a dance accompanist, Mr. Larson served as company pianist for the Milwaukee Ballet and has played for Minnesota Dance Theater, Alaska Dance Theater, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Ballet Hispanico and others. He has made dance accompaniment CDs for Aquarian Sound and Brio Recordings. His compositions have been performed by violinist Hal Grossman, the Concord Chamber Orchestra, the Interlochen Arts Academy Choir and the Backyard Recorder Consort. His improvisational skills are frequently put to use accompanying silent movies. Mr. Larson is currently organist at Grace Episcopal Church in Traverse City, Michigan.