The Boulder Jewish Film Festival Offers Its First Silent Film Screening

Alicia Svigals, the world’s foremost Klezmer violinist, has spent her life reviving a musical art form that came perilously close to extinction in the Holocaust. The Klezmatics co-founder, along with celebrated silent film pianist Donald Sosin, will perform live original music with the screening of silent film The Man Without a World on Thursday, November 9 at 6:30 in the Gordon Gamm Theater.

A classically trained musician with a degree in ethnomusicology from Brown University, Svigals made it her mission to learn and perform klezmer – an instrumental musical tradition of the Ashkenazi Jews of Central and Eastern Europe. After studying the music of the shtetl with klezmer master Leon Shwartz, she found other young musicians also drawn to the music of a lost generation and together they formed The Klezmatics in 1986.

The band, which created contemporary Jewish music that combined the joyous and mystical Yiddish tradition with a postmodern aesthetic and an overtly political worldview, quickly found a following – and klezmer began to enjoy a renaissance.

Svigals co-lead and toured with the band for 17 years, performing around the world, teaching and recording.

Influenced by many genres, from heavy metal to traditional Greek, today Svigals is a sought-after performer and busy composer who recovers and reimagines precious gems from the musical archives of Eastern European.

She has played and composed for violinist Itzhak Perlman, the Kronos Quartet, playwrights Tony Kushner and Eve Ensler, poet Allen Ginsburg, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, singer/songwriters Debbie Friedman, Diane Birch, Gary Lucas and Najma Akhtar, and many others.

Among her more recent solo projects since leaving the Grammy-winning band, Svigals has been composing scores for Jewish silent films and performing them along with pianist Donald Sosin, whom she met at a silent film festival in Italy in 2017. (For a full bio, visit aliciasvigals.com.)

Pianist Donald Sosin has been composing and performing silent film music for festivals all over the world for the last fifty years. Donald grew up in Rye NY and Munich, and after composition studies at Michigan and Columbia he worked on Broadway for many years. He performs at MoMA, Lincoln Center, Harvard, Yale, and other colleges, and with his singer/percussionist wife at the National Gallery, and festivals in New York, Seattle, San Francisco and Italy. 

Donald writes and arranges for TV, radio and video, with commissions including the Chicago Symphony Chorus and the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra. His scores are heard regularly on Turner Classic Movies and his music accompanies films on more than fifty DVD releases. He was in Colorado in September performing at the Telluride Film Festival – where he and festival founding director Kathryn Bernheimer enjoyed an accidental encounter. (Visit Donald at oldmoviemusic.com.

Click here for tickets to “The Man Without a World” on Thursday, November 9, at 6:30 pm in the Gordon Gamm Theater.

To read more about the festival, click here.

About Kathryn Bernheimer

Kathryn has spent her professional life writing about, teaching, and presenting the arts. Founding Director of the Boulder Jewish Film Festival, Kathryn was Director of Menorah and ACE at the Boulder JCC from 2003 through August, 2019. The former film and theater critic for the Boulder Daily Camera, Kathryn is the author of "The Fifty Greatest Jewish Movies" and "The Fifty Funniest Films of All Time." kathryn.bernheimer@gmail.com

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