The Big Picture on the Big Screen

When globally renowned jazz clarinetist David Krakauer and his partners set out to create “The Big Picture,” they intended to tell the story of Krakauer’s Jewish heritage as well as a larger story of culture and identity. The idea of reconnecting with Krakauer’s own roots and promoting tolerance of others informs the work, as it has much of Krakauer’s career, but this multimedia performance ties it all together.

“The Big Picture” combines visuals from iconic films with the classic soundtracks reimagined by Krakauer and The 35mm Orchestra. Some of the films are directly related to Judaism, but all were chosen because of their portrayal of the Jewish experience in some form or another, according to Krakauer.

“I believe that by being proud of one’s culture and welcoming other people in, it’s a [message] saying to other people: ‘be proud of your culture and let’s celebrate our differences in a beautiful way,’” says Krakauer. 

The visuals serve as reminders of the iconic stories, which include “Cabaret,” “Life is Beautiful” and other classics.

“I think it helps people remember the movies, both from the music they hear and also little subtle visual triggers. But they’re not narrative visuals, they’re just kind of reveries, kind of meditations on the movies.”

The clarinetist has performed “The Big Picture” in the U.S. and in Europe, but regardless of where and when Krakauer performs his music, the message is always timely. E.g. some of Krakauer’s work with globally renowned Jewish roots band, The Klezmatics, coincided with the fall of the Berlin wall and a new era for Eastern Europe. 

On that experience Krakauer says:

“Coming to Europe in the late 80s/early 90s and playing Jewish music – without waving a flag or getting up on the soapbox – we were making a statement for multiculturalism, for tolerance, for a more inclusive view and that has continued throughout my career ever since.”

This is the same message brought out in “The Big Picture” and it’s one which has been a hallmark of Krakauer’s work no matter who he performs with.

Krakauer and The 35mm Orchestra will bring “The Big Picture” to George Mason University’s Center for the Arts on Friday, March 2 at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $26-$44 and can be purchased online here.

George Mason University Center for the Arts: 4400 University Dr. Fairfax, VA; 703-993-8888;