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Sound and Sense: Jewish Music @ York – “The Ancient Law (Das Alte Gesetz)”

Screening of “The Ancient Law (Das Alte Gesetz)” with Live Original Music by pianist Donald Sosin and klezmer-violinist Alicia Svigals.

The Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies and the Department of Music in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design  are proud to present a screening of the silent film masterpiece The Ancient Law (Das alte Gesetz) with live original music composed and performed. by world renowned klezmer violinist Alicia Svigals and celebrated silent film pianist Donald Sosin. This event has been made possible thanks to generous support from the Azrieli Foundation and the Sunrise Foundation for Education and the Arts.

Sunday, November 19, 2023
Tribute Communities Recital Hall 
3:00 pm
Reserve your FREE ticket HERE

Ewald André Dupont’s 1923 silent film The Ancient Law (Das alte Gesetz) was digitally restored in 2017 by the Deutsche Kinemathek with generous support from the Sunrise Foundation for Education and the Arts. The film is an important piece of German-Jewish cinematic history, contrasting the closed world of an Eastern European shtetl with the liberal mores of 1860s Vienna. With its historically authentic set design and ensemble of prominent actors – all captured magnificently by cinematographer Theodor Sparkuhl – The Ancient Law is an outstanding example of the creativity of Jewish filmmakers in 1920s Germany. A brief synopsis: Baruch (Ernst Deutsch), the son of a rabbi, becomes fascinated by the theater. Against his father’s wishes, Baruch leaves home and finds his way to Vienna, where an archduchess at the imperial court (Henny Porten) falls in love with him. She becomes his patroness, facilitating his successful career as a classical actor. But Baruch continues to long for home, and must find a way to reconcile his religious heritage with his love of secular literature. The movie paints a complex portrait of the tension between tradition and modernity.

Alicia Svigals and Donald Sosin have been bringing audiences to their feet throughout the US and Europe with their unique and stirring violin and piano scores for Jewish-themed silent films. Sosin is one of the world’s top silent film musicians, and Svigals is the world’s leading klezmer violinist and a founder of the Grammy-winning Klezmatics.

Violinist/composer Alicia Svigals is the world’s leading klezmer fiddler and a founder of the Grammy-winning Klezmatics. She has performed with and written for violinist Itzhak Perlman, and has worked with the the Kronos Quartet, playwrights Tony Kushner and Eve Ensler, poet Allen Ginsburg, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, Debbie Friedman and Chava Albershteyn. In May 2023, Svigals was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters by the Jewish Theological Seminary for “extraordinary contributions to the arts and Jewish life.” Svigals was awarded a Foundation for Jewish Culture commission for her original score to the 1918 film The Yellow Ticket, and is a MacDowell fellow. Her CD Fidl (1996) reawakened klezmer fiddle tradition. Her newest CD is Beregovski Suite: Klezmer Reimagined, with jazz pianist Uli Geissendoerfer—an original take on long-lost Jewish music from Ukraine.

Pianist/composer Donald Sosin grew up in Rye, New York and Munich. Sosin received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Denver Silent Film Festival, and the Best Original Film Score award by the 2022 Mystic Film Festival. He has performed his scores for silent films, often with his wife, singer/percussionist Joanna Seaton, at Lincoln Center, MoMA, BAM, the National Gallery, at major film festivals in New York, San Francisco, Telluride, Hollywood, Yorkshire, Pordenone, Bologna, Shanghai, Bangkok, Berlin, Vienna, Moscow, and Jecheon, South Korea and many college campuses. He has worked with Alexander Payne, Isabella Rossellini, Dick Hyman, Jonathan Tunick, Comden and Green, Martin Charnin, Mitch Leigh, and Cy Coleman, and has played for Mikhael Baryshnikov, Mary Travers, Marni Nixon, Howie Mandel, Geula Gill, and many others. He records for Criterion, Kino, Milestone, Flicker Alley and European labels, and his scores are heard frequently on TCM. He has had commissions from MoMA, EYE Amsterdam, Deutsche Kinemathek, L’Immagine Ritrovata, the Chicago Symphony Chorus, the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra and the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. He lives in rural Connecticut with his family.

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Nov 19 2023


3:00 pm - 4:30 pm


Accolade East Building, Tribute Communities Recital Hall @ 83 York Boulevard, Toronto
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