UVA Music @ the Virginia Film Festival

Written by Kim Turner

UVA Music @ the Virginia Film Festival
The Virginia Film Festival at the University of Virginia is a four day festival of films that engages the local community through screenings, interactive workshops, filmmaking competitions, and more.  For over 25 years, The Festival has brought in a wonderful array of guests, from internationally acclaimed directors and actors to professors and leading cultural experts who lead discussions that motivate, educate, and engage the community in thoughtful discourse.

For many, music and movies go hand in hand.  In conjunction with the Festival, the McIntire Department of Music participated throughout the weekend through fun collaborations, bringing film and music together in a way that inspires creativity in both the young and young at heart.

Musical Instrument Petting Zoo
Joining the Virginia Film Festival’s Family Day, Charlottesville Symphony members performed an interactive concert in the Culbreth Auditorium, introducing musical themes from the featured movie to life.  After the film, faculty, student and community members of the Charlottesville Symphony hosted a Musical Instrument Petting Zoo in the Helms Theater. Children of all ages and their parents were invited to explore musical instruments from the string, woodwind, brass and percussion families with help from UVA music faculty and students from the Charlottesville Symphony.  Miniature Mozarts and budding Beethovens – as well as grown-ups – had the opportunity to hear, see, touch and play many different instruments found in the orchestra.

The Yellow Ticket
UVA Music faculty member Joel Rubin, along with esteemed Klezmer musicians Alicia Svigals and Marilyn Lerner accompanied this screening with a live performance of a score written by Svigals, which was commissioned by the Foundation for Jewish Culture’s 2013 New Jewish Music Network.  The silent film, shown in Old Cabell Hall, tells the story of Lea, a young girl living in the Jewish ghetto of Warsaw with hopes of studying medicine at a university in Russia. When her father dies, she moves to St. Petersburg to pursue her dream, but must assume the identity of her tutor’s deceased sister in order to be accepted to the university.

A Tickle in the Heart
A documentary about the Epstein Brothers–Max, Willie, and Julius– who are legends in the world of klezmer music, a Jewish musical tradition originating in Eastern Europe, also features Professor Joel Rubin. The documentary paints the Epsteins as natural performers, sharing their sense of life, music, and family as they tour through places they love–from Poland to Brooklyn to Florida. The film was the culmination of several years of documenting the group, who received the prestigious National Heritage Fellowship from the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts in 1998. The screening was followed by a discussion with Pete Sokolow and Joel Rubin (UVA), moderated by Asher Biemann.


Landfill Harmonic
This documentary, voted best “documentary feature” in this year’s Virginia Film Festival, features a Paraguayan community of Cateura that survive by selling recyclable materials collected from the trash. The film follows a musical group known as the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura whose story goes viral in the media, launching the group into the global spotlight. However, a natural disaster strikes their country, and the group fights to keep the orchestra intact and deliver hope to their town.
The CCT Program in the Music Department joined the Virginia Film Festival to create a special instrument maker fair in coordination with the film screening of Landfill Harmonic. Students and faculty in the Composition and Computer Technologies program demonstrated new instruments made using recycled, homemade and circuit bent electronics, and the MICE Ensemble, led by Professor Peter Bussigel, displayed their repurposed suitcase/speaker music. The film also featured a discussion with Music Department Chair, Matthew Burtner.


McIntire Department of Music
112 Old Cabell Hall
P.O. Box 400176 Charlottesville, VA 22904-4176

Email: music@virginia.edu