Peggy Parsons, The National Gallery
“Our audience adores them!”—Margaret Parsons, National Gallery. “The top of the line of film pianists!”—Leonard Maltin, film critic. For twenty years Donald Sosin and Joanna Seaton have been among the only major performers in the US creating and performing music for classic silent films with vocals as well as instrumentals, and have won high praise from experts in the field, as well as enthusiastic supporters of all ages everywhere they appear. Their unique blend of keyboard, vocals, electronics and percussion delights a wide variety of audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.
Their film scores incorporate original songs with Joanna’s lyrics and Donald’s music, as well as select songs from the early 20th century appropriate to the film, and even, in some cases, giving voice to the muted singing of the actors onscreen.
FILM FESTIVALS COAST TO COAST
New York, Telluride, San Francisco, Seattle, TriBeCa, Denver, Houston, Virginia, Westchester, Ithaca, Bellport, Newport. They are often at MoMA (where Donald was staff accompanist for five years) and other New York venues—BAM, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the Whitney Museum, the Guggenheim Museum, Alliance Française, the Cosmopolitan Club, Scandinavia House, the Film Forum, Citicorp Center, Snug Harbor Cultural Center, and the Museum of the Moving Image, where Donald recently celebrated 20 years as house pianist.
ACROSS THE ATLANTIC
They perform regularly at the world’s largest silent film festival, Le Giornate del Cinema Muto in Pordenone and at Bologna’s Cinema Ritrovato. Donald is a longtimemember of the musician roster at both festivals, and part of the masterclass faculty in Pordenone, training upcoming pianists from all over the globe in the art of silent film accompaniment.
FROM THE KENNEDY CENTER TO SHANGHAI
Additionally, Donald has performed in the Lincoln Center Great Performances series and was the guest pianist for Robert Redford’s Nancy Hanks lecture at the Kennedy Center. Konzerthaus Wien in 2013, five programs of Chinese and American films at the First Shanghai Silent Film Festival in 2009.
OTHER MUSEUMS & COLLEGES
They are favorite guests at the National Gallery, and have played Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, MASS MoCA, the High Museum, the Wadsworth Atheneum, Music Mountain (Falls Village CT),Windsor (CT) Historical Society, Windsor Arts Center, Tarrytown (NY) Music Hall, Coolidge Corner (MA), Palace Theatre (Syracuse NY), WAMC (Albany) Linda Norris Auditorium, AFI/Silver, Concordia Chamber Players (PA). Colleges—Harvard, Yale, Columbia, U. of Michigan, Emory, Webster, Le Moyne, and Bard’s SummerScape series, as well as many elementary schools, libraries and senior centers.
OVER 40 DVDS
Their music is available on the Criterion, Kino, Milestone and several European labels. Titles include NOSFERATU, THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI, KING OF KINGS, THE DOCKS OF NEW YORK, UPSTREAM, and many other features and shorts by Ozu, Naruse, Chaplin, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, and Orson Welles. Turner Classic Movies has broadcast several rare Chinese features with Donald’s scores, and dozens of shorts from Mack Sennett to avant-garde masterpieces like MANHATTA by Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand.
NOT JUST FILM
They have written choral music on commission from the Chicago Symphony Chorus and the Colorado Children’s Chorus. Donald has arranged for the Orchestra of St. Luke and written music for PBS, NPR, ABC and CBS. His children’s opera ESTHER was perfomed in 2012 at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst MA. Joanna has sung at the 92nd Street Y with jazz great Dick Hyman.
Donald and Joanna play an active part of their community in northwest Connecticut, teaching, leading community vocal groups, and directing and conducting musical theater. They live in Lakeville CT and have two children.
NEWSFLASH! We have just launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the orchestration of SHERLOCK HOLMES (1916) with William Gillette. This longlost film was the Holy Grail of Sherlockians for decades until it turned up in the vaults of the Cinémathèque Française in 2014. The Odessa International Film Festival has commissioned me to write what will be the first orchestral score for this feature film. View the campaign and please contribute!
With more than one thousand film scores written and recorded to date, Donald Sosin is one of today’s leading silent film composers. Joanna and Donald have collaborated on over thirty scores, including Nosferatu, The Docks of New York, Upstream, and King of Kings.
April 28-May 1 Denver Silent Film Festival: Phantom of the Opera with Joanna Seaton; and a collaborative workshop performance of The Unholy Three (Lon Chaney) with student ensemble from U. Colorado Denver.
May 3 Show People with Marion Davies dir. King Vidor Yale University. Joanna Seaton, vocals.
May 12 Breaking Home Ties with Mimi Rabson, violin. Boston MFA.
May 30 Exit Smiling with Beatrice Lillie, at Kenyon Hall, West Seattle. Plus a short.
May 31 The Big Road, at Seattle Film Festival
June 2-5 San Francisco Silent Film Festival: Woman of the World (1925) with Pola Negri; The Last Warning (1929) dir. Paul Leni.
June 25-July 2 Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna. World premiere of Donald’s orchestral score for The High Sign (1921) with Buster Keaton, on the Piazza Maggiore. Come for the films, stay for the gelato!
July 15-23 Odessa International Film Festival. World premiere of orchestral score for Sherlock Holmes (1916) on the Potemkin Stairs. Orchestrations by Peter Breiner.
August 6 (raindate 13) An evening of Chaplin and Keaton at Brookhaven Farm, Long Island. Tour the farm with Isabella Rossellini, then enjoy the films under the stars with Donald and Joanna. Singalong and other fun. Coney Island (1917), The Adventurer (1917), The Blacksmith (1922). Tickets at http://www.plazamac.org/events/
August 27 Richard III (1912) at the National Gallery of Art. Donald, Joanna and chamber ensemble perform Donald’s 2001 score.
Sept. 2-5 Telluride Film Festival, Film TBA
Oct. 1-8 Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone, Italy. A week of rediscovered and restored silents, plus a master class for aspiring musicians.
Nov. 30 Images Cinema, Williamstown MA. Donald and Joanna celebrate the 100th anniversary of the theater with a comedy evening.
Coming to DVD: Ten Nights in a Barroom (1926), with an 8-piece jazz group in 5.1 surround. Plus Two Vaudeville Knights (1917) on the KinoLorber African-American 5-DVD set. June. Coney Island (1917), The Blacksmith (1922), and The High Sign (1921) on the Lobster Film/Flicker Alley BluRay/DVD Keaton set. Late spring.
Donald and Joanna have led workshops for music teachers at the Westminster Performing Arts Center in Salt Lake City, and the Darien CT school system. Student workshops include the 2012 Telluride Film Festival, 2011 Music Teachers Association of California convention, two at the Virginia Film Festival (songwriting), Houston Cinema Arts Festival, two at the University of Colorado Denver in association with the Denver Silent Film Festival, Le Moyne College, The Music Studio (Albany). They taught songwriting at New York City magnet schools for ten years and are part of the teaching team of Kid Pan Alley, a nationwide organization teaching songwriting in schools and other venues.