Peggy Parsons, The National Gallery
“Thanks again for the magic evening!”—Isabella Rossellini. “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.
With more than one thousand film scores written and hundreds recorded, Donald Sosin is one of today’s leading silent film composers. Joanna and Donald have collaborated on over thirty scores, including Nosferatu, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The Docks of New York, Upstream, Coney Island and King of Kings.
Jan. 15 Silents with orchestra! Salisbury CT Donald’s new scores for The Pawnshop & The High Sign, plus early cinema songs and more sung by Joanna Seaton. Salisbury Sinfonietta, Jack Bowman, conductor. Salisbury Congregational Church, 3pm. FREE. More info
Jan. 18 My Best Girl with Mary Pickford Emory University (Donald)
Jan. 28 7:30pm Breaking Home Ties Westville Synagogue New Haven CT (Donald & Joanna)
Feb 10 7pm Comedy shorts for Valentine’s Day. Hotchkiss Library, Sharon CT (Donald & Joanna)
Mar. 4 1pm Comedy shorts for the whole family Scoville Memorial Library, Salisbury CT (Donald & Joanna)
March 7 Comedy shorts at Coolidge Corner, Brookline MA (Donald & Joanna)
March 9 Early Italian travelogues in the touring program of Cinema Ritrovato at Brown University, Providence RI (Donald & Joanna, with Benjamin Davis, mandolin
March 24 Sherlock Holmes (1916) Phoenix AZ
March 26 The Pawnshop (1916) and Plane Crazy. San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, Benjamin Simon, conductor.
April 11 Le Moyne College, Syracuse, NY TBA
April 28-30 Denver Silent Film Festival TBA
June 2-4 San Francisco Silent Film Festival TBA
June 24-July 1 Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna, Italy TBA
September 30-October 7 Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone, Italy TBA
New releases on BluRay/DVD: When Comedy Was King (3 short wacky comedies). 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. Coney Island (1917), The Blacksmith (1922), and The High Sign (1921) on the Lobster Film/Flicker Alley BluRay/DVD Keaton set. What’s the World Coming To? a 20’s cross-dressing short. Coming in 2017: Lois Weber’s Shoes (1917).
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.