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Fern has composed and improvised music for silent movies, beginning in 2010 with a commission from the Toronto International Film Festival to prepare a klezmer/jazz score for Buster Keaton’s 1924 classic comedy Sherlock Jr., which was screened at the opening of the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Fern’s original score was for sextet but she has also performed the music with a trio and as a solo pianist.
Here is an interview with Karen Gordon for CBC’s Fresh Air about composing silent film music.
Fern is a member of AIM (Association of Improvising Musicians) Toronto. She often performs with the Toronto Improvisers’ Orchestra, as well as with Christine Duncan’s Elements Choir, and in 2013 presented her Tout Suite at the 416 Creative Improvisers’ Festival.
Fern performed and toured in Canada, the United States and Europe as music director from 2005 and 2011 of the Sisters of Sheynville, a Yiddish/swing/klezmer sextet that won a Canadian Folk Music Award in 2010 as Vocal Group of the Year. Fern has also appeared with the Canadian-American Lithuanian Empire, and has participated in several other international collaborations through her involvement with KlezKanada and Alan Bern’s Yiddish Summer Weimar.
In 2011 she introduced her own program, Forgotten Memories, fusing old Yiddish traditions with contemporary jazz, in a concert at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts., and in 2013 presented From Minsk to Tel Aviv during Jewish Music Week. Later that same year, she introduced the role of Sanoy the angel in the world premiere at Klezkanada of Josh Horowitz’ opera Lilith.