One of Metropolitan Klezmer’s specialties is the fascinating range of music found in vintage Yiddish film soundtracks, from tango to tragic lullaby to tenement wedding dance and much more. The band plays original arrangements inspired by scenes in both celebrated movies and lesser-known cinematic gems: Hasidic chant and sewing song from The Dybbuk; tenement wedding dance from Uncle Moses; melodies performed for newsreels made by Moscow’s State Yiddish Theater; Second Avenue swing, haunting love songs, and a little-known folkloric grandma’s dance as heard in Molly Picon’s Polish films, just to name a few. This program has been presented from coast to coast, including NYC’s landmark Museum at Eldridge Street. Metropolitan Klezmer performed with video clips to full house, as pictured here. Our movie-inspired musical repertoire may be performed as part of any Metropolitan Klezmer concert, or in a full-length show focusing on this theme (with onscreen moving imagery optional; various footage formats available).
“…Tonight at the famous, recently reopened synagogue at the base of Eldridge Street, Metropolitan Klezmer reminded why they’re one of the foremost groups in the current wave of klezmer revivalists. But they didn’t do it with the party music. Instead, bandleader/drummer Eve Sicular – who’s also a film historian – assembled a program of incidental and theme music from Yiddish film from the 1930s and 40s, from both the US and the Soviet Union … The band interpolated their songs – a mix of instrumentals and vocal numbers – between movie clips which played on a screen on the left side of the gorgeously renovated synagogue.”
— Lucid Culture read more
Metropolitan Klezmer performing “Uncle Moses Wedding Dance” live at NYC’s Drom nightclub, April 2009 at the band’s 15th anniversary show. Traditional folk dance tunes adapted from the soundtrack of Uncle Moses [1932, USA] and a field transcription by Moishe Beregovsky [USSR]. Arranged for Metropolitan Klezmer by Eve Sicular. Opening and closing melody as heard in tenement wedding scene of early Yiddish “talkie” feature starring the film’s director, Maurice Schwartz, in the title role. Debra Kreisberg – clarinet; Pam Fleming – trumpet; Reut Regev – trombone; Ismail Butera – accordion; Michael Hess – violin; Dave Hofstra – bass; Eve Sicular – drums. (Studio and live audio versions by Metropolitan Klezmer appear on both our Surprising Finds and Traveling Show CD releases.)
Eve Sicular, Metropolitan Klezmer bandleader, presenting her solo lecture version of “Music in Yiddish Cinema” for Yiddish Summer Weimar 2012 (here with German translator), and then for Vilnius Yiddish Summer Program, Lithuania. This program is also available with live band plus multi-media. A former curator of Film & Photo Archives at YIVO Institute, Eve wrote her Harvard honors thesis on early Soviet film innovator Esther Shub.
The Metros Go To The Movies
“[While other bands add Jewish music to a movie], Metropolitan Klezmer has been reversing the process for many years, deriving some of its repertoire from Yiddish cinema classics. In April, they will devote an entire concert to the Metro/movie nexus. Given Bandleader Eve Sicular’s lifelong interest in film, this is a logical development. After all, Sicular was an assistant to the curator on the Museum of Modern Art’s famous Yiddish film retrospective in the early 1990’s, an event whose impact on the revival of interest in Yiddish culture has yet to be measured.”
— George Robinson, THE JEWISH WEEK February 15, 2008