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Cine-Concert: The Ancient Law

Student Center Gatton Cinema
Speaker(s) / Presenter(s):
Alicia Svigals and Donald Sosin

The Ancient Law (Das Alte Gesetz) a cine-concert: a screening of the foundational 1923 silent film, with a live original score by Alicia Svigals (of the Grammy-winning Klezmatics) and pianist/composer and silent film music legend Donald Sosin. 

THE ANCIENT LAW is a landmark in Weimar cinema and an outstanding example of the creative contribution of Jewish filmmakers in 1920s Germany. It is the story of a rabbi's son who leaves his shtetl home in Galicia and makes his way to Vienna, where an archduchess at the imperial court falls in love with him. The movie draws a complex portrait of the tension between tradition and modernity. 

Alicia Svigals, violinist/composer and a founder of the Grammy-winning Klezmatics, is the world's foremost klezmer fiddler. Alicia almost singlehandedly revived the tradition of klezmer fiddling, which had been on the brink of extinction until she recorded her debut album Fidl in the 1990’s. In February 2018, Svigals and jazz pianist Uli Geissendoerfer released her newest album, Beregovski Suite, a fantasy on klezmer melodies culled from the archive of early 20th century Soviet Jewish ethnomusicologist Moshe Beregovski. In June 2018, Flicker Alley released her score to the 1923 silent film Das Alte Gesetz, co-written with pianist Donald Sosin, which they are touring internationally.

Svigals has taught and toured with violinist Itzhak Perlman, who recorded her compositions as duets with Ms. Svigals and the Klezmatics; and she was awarded first prize in performance at the Safed, Israel international klezmer festival. She’s been featured in Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues (at Madison Square Garden with Phoebe Snow, Glenn Close, Whoopi Goldberg, Susan Sarandon, and Brooke Shields). She’s composed for the Kronos Quartet, and composer Osvaldo Golijov was commissioned to create a work for her and clarinetist David Krakauer (then a fellow band member in the Klezmatics) entitled Rocketekiya, recorded on the Milken Archives label and performed at Merkin Concert Hall and Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Donald Sosin (pianist and composer) has performed his silent film music at Lincoln Center, MoMA, the Kennedy Center, and major film festivals in the US and abroad. He records for Criterion, Kino, Milestone and TCM. He has played his scores for Jewish-themed silent films at the New York Jewish Film Festival. His one-act opera for families, Esther, was performed at the National Yiddish Book Center. Other Jewish music includes a short children's opera, A Parakeet Named Dreidel, Yiddish folk song arrangements, and Three Psalms, premiered in 2009 by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra.