Mort and Nancy Bercovitch Concert Series

The Mort and Nancy Bercovitch Concert Series at Temple Israel consists of several events each year that feature local and touring artists in the intimate setting of the Temple Israel sanctuary.  The concert series focuses primarily on acoustic strings in conventional and sometimes unconventional configurations.  While we often feature classical repertoire, we also venture into music that we feel will resonate with our audience from either a cultural or historic perspective or just to delight the ears with a beautiful sound.

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2019-20 Concert series
The Ancient Law
The Ancient Law

 Klezmer violinist and co-founder of the Klezmantcs, Alicia Svigals, will be returning to Ottawa for another live performance of an original score to accompany the 1923 silent film, “The Ancient Law”.  Svigals and pianist Daniel Sosin, both based in New York, collaborated on this project and will perform the work together at Temple Israel on November 3 at 2 pm kicking off Temple’s 2019/20 Sunday afternoon Concert Series.  After a sell out performance of “The Yellow Ticket” back in February, the organizers are expecting another full house for this event.

“The Ancient Law” Das Alte Gesetz tells the story of the son of the rabbi of a small shtetl in Galicia in the 1860’s who decides to leave his home and follow his dream of becoming a professional stage actor in Vienna.  Jewish filmmaker E. A. Dupont (1891 – 1956) directed the film.  This is one of five films made in Germany and Austria between 1919 and 1924 by directors concerned about the plight of Jews in Europe following the First World War and the Russian Revolution.  The chaos of that time period caused mass migration of Eastern European Jews to the West.  This influx of mostly Orthodox Jews with their distinctive dress and customs became a visible presence on the streets and triggered an escalation in anti-Semitism amidst the considerable economic turmoil of this period.  These five films constituted a cinematic intervention into the ongoing debate about “The Jewish Question”  – where did Jews fit into the society, if at all.

In “The Ancient Law”, the camera follows the central character, Baruch Mayer, as he dramatically leaves his isolated community, struggles awkwardly to find his way in the strange outside world and eventually succeeds in his quest with the help of an aristocratic patroness.  There are many delightful scenes illustrating life in the shtetl, the Hapsburg court and the Vienna theater, as well as poignant scenes of love family strife, and personal religious struggle that bring Baruch’s journey to life.

The experience of a silent film screening accompanied by the beautiful live performance of the Klezmer inspired music by Svigals and Sosin is certain to make this event a highlight of the fall season.  The music, a combination of composition and improvisation by these wonderful musicians is exceptional and the film provides a wonderful platform for them to show their talent.  Generous support for this performance has been provided by the Sunrise Foundation for Education and the Arts.

Past Concerts

Boy Wonders
Forbidden and Forgotten Concert
Homage concert
Bulletin, May-June, 2017
Beethoven Concert
The Yellow Ticket
Jewish Life concert