Tag Archives: Sephardic music

The Remarkable Nyckelharpa of Toledo

Ana Alcaide

Spanish vocalist, nyckelharpa player and composer Ana Alcaide performed at the RaInforest World Music Festival on Saturday, July 13 at the Theatre Stage.

Ana Alcaide

Ana’s music encapsulates Spanish traditional music, Sephardic traditions and global music influences. She and some of her colleagues live in Toledo, an ancient city and UNESCO World Heritage that used to be the capital of Spain before it moved to nearby Madrid.

Three cultures lived in Toledo during the Middle Age: Christians, Jews and Muslim Moors. Ana Alcaide draws from this deep historic well and delighted the audience in Sarawak with her captivating vocals and enthralling nyckelharpa, a remarkable Swedish instrument that has adapted well to Spanish traditions.

The band featured Spain-based musicians from Germany and the United States: Rainer Seiferth on guitar and Bill Cooley on darbuka, frame drum and psaltery; and Spanish musician Bruno Duque on clarinet and ney.

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Mara Aranda Releases Sefarad en el corazón de Turquía

Mara Aranda – Sefarad en el corazón de Turquía

Spanish singer Mara Aranda has released “Sefarad en el corazón de Turquía” , the second volume of a pentalogy titled “Diaspora”, dedicated to the Judeo-Spanish traditions of Morocco, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria and the former Yugoslavia. The first album of the series “Sefarad en el corazón de Marruecos” was awarded “Best of Europe 2017” by the Transglobal World Music Chart.

Sefarad en el corazón de Turquía” (Sefarad in the Heart of Turkey) reflects the common past of the cultures on the Iberian peninsula that traveled with the exiled communities to their new destinations, and now, with “Diaspora”, they return to their origin.

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Artist Profiles: Emil Zrihan

Emil Zrihan

Emil Zrihan, cantor of the synagogue in Ashkelon kept the Judeo-Andalusian and folk traditions of his mother country Morocco alive in his heart. Following the immense success on stage here at last is the international debut album by the man nicknamed “the voice of the mocking bird”.

The impressive vocal range and power of Zrihan’s counter tenor express both the emotional intensity of North African religious songs and the vivacity of Andalusian music. His fascinating ‘mawals’ (improvisations) are subtly enhanced by the ud, violin, accordion and darbuka which repeat the themes with spirit and gusto. The upbeat rhythmic tempo with its Mediterranean flavor alternates with passages imbued with the languor of the Orient, a mix which evokes the family gatherings, the songs and the dances of the Sephardic culture.

The guest of honor on Zrihan’s recent album, Baldi Olier, adds the sensitivity tempered with pride of his guitar playing style which stems from the purest of flamenco tradition. The producer Yossi Fine has managed to capture the strength of Emil Zrihan’s extraordinary voice, adding bass and both African and Brazilian percussion to the traditional instruments, thereby conferring on this album a sound which is at once profound and elegant, light and playful and which invites the listeners to move and shake, to click their fingers, to clap their hands, and inevitably to dance.

Emil Zrihan, the Moroccan Nightingale, was acclaimed as the surprise of the World Music Expo, Womex 1997. A performer who captivates audiences with his exceptional contra-tenor voice and stage presence. The voice of Emil Zrihan, who stamped a note of deep satisfaction on everything that happened at the Womex Festival, with his holy songs from North Africa and tonal Arabic-Andalusian music.

Discography:

Ashkelon (Piranha, 1999)
L’ Youm Dima (NMC, 2004)

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Artist Profiles: Gothart

Gothart

Gothart, a historical music ensemble, was founded in 1993. Five friends got together united by a common interest to restore medieval music. Their repertoire at that time focused mainly on the Czech Gothic production. Opuses originating in other European countries have enriched the repertoire since 1994. The band extended its set of instruments and covered also works by German minnesingers, French troubadours and the music of medieval Spain.

The collection of Marian songs Cantigas de Santa María was the main source for Gothart’s first CD, Por nos de dulta (1996). At that time, the band played all throughout the Czech Republic, as well as in many cities of and on festivals in Slovakia, Germany, Belgium, France and Poland.

History remained the inspiration source and the second CD, Stella Splendens (1997), centered on another well known collection of medieval Spanish songs, Llibre Vermell.

At that period, the ensemble also successfully cooperated on various projects with Czech Television and Czech Radio. Its music accompanied the documentary Schindlerova volba (Schindler’s Choice), to name only one. Absolute commitment, zeal and humor together with formal excellence place Gothart among ensembles that bring historical music near even to fans of entirely different genres,

Rich as it was, Gothart’s repertoire was further extended and altered by the new impulses of world music. The radical change the ensemble went through between 1998 and 1999 culminated in the release of its third CD (1999). Named Adio Querida. It contains Sephardic romances, Gypsy songs and especially Balkan ethnic songs and dances.

Discography:

Por nos de dulta (1996)

Stella splendens (1976)

Adio querida (1999)

Cabaret (2001)

Rakija’n’roll (2003)

Rakioactive (Indies MG Records, 2006)

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Artist Profiles: Rosa Zaragoza

Rosa Zaragoza

Rosa Zaragoza is a Sephardic music singers. She has performed at most Mediterranean music festivals and in Europe, the United States of America and Israel.

Rosa Zaragoza started her career in 1984 showcasing her talent at Gerona’s Call (The ancient Jewish quarter in this village) in the ancient Synagogue of Isaac el Cec.

Later, Zaragoza became interested in the coexistence period of the three main cultures present in the Iberian Peninsula: Jewish, Muslim and Christian. She added to her Sephardic repertory religious music and songs from the Arab and Christian traditions

Discography:

Canciones sefardies (Tecnosaga 1984)
Canciones de bodas de los judios catalanes (1986)
Canciones de cuna del Mediterraneo (1987)
Les nenes bones van al cel les dolentes a tot arreu (1989)
Galaneta ma Canciones de falda para cantar con el niño en el regazo (199)
Canciones de judios cristianos y musulmanes (1992)
El espiritu de Al-Andalus (1994)
Delicias zingaras (1997)
Mujeres del 36, with Grupo Makis (1998)
Erotica Mistica (2000)
Matria. Canciones de Sefarad, Al’Andalus y Cataluña (2003)
Nacer Renacer (2005)
Terra de jueus (2007)
La danza del alma (2008)
A la luz de la risa de las mujeres (2011)
Cuando se caen las alas del corazón (2014)

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Yasmin Levy to Perform at Berklee Performance Center

Yasmin Levy

Sephardic music diva Yasmin Levy is set to perform Sunday, November 5, 2017 at Berklee Performance Center.

Yasmin Levy preserves and recovers the most beautiful and romantic songs from the Ladino/Judeo-Spanish tradition. Her intense and sensual vocals combines flamenco’s fiery passion with the microtonal essence of Middle Eastern music.

She is accompanied by Turkish and Arabic instruments such as the oud, ney, and qanun, along with hand percussion, acoustic guitar, and bass.

Her discography includes: Mano Suave, Tango, Sentir, La Juderia, Romance & Yasmin, and Libertad.

7:30 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center
136 Massachusetts Ave., Boston
Tickets at: tickets.worldmusic.org

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Artist Profiles: Gerard Edery

Gerard Edery

Gerard Edery was born in Casablanca and raised in Paris and New York City, speaking several languages throughout his childhood as he absorbed a variety of musical traditions spanning three continents.

Trained as a classical baritone while earning his Masters Degree at the Manhattan School of Music, he has since sung more than thirty roles with opera companies around the United States.

Gerard is also a virtuoso guitarist: melding classical, flamenco, jazz and folk techniques, he brings an intricate, sophisticated personal style both to original compositions and to his elaborate, expressive arrangements of traditional songs – a world-girdling repertoire encompassing some dozen different languages.

His special passion is the rich heritage of French, Spanish and Judeo-Spanish melody. Considered one of the leading interpreters of Sephardic Song, he was honored with the 1997 Sephardic Musical Heritage Award. In 2, he was also awarded a Meet the Composer! grant to write original songs.

Gerard has performed in major concert halls and festivals throughout the world. Gerard offers many inspiring programs in collaboration with many artists, including ud virtuoso George Mgrdichian, storyteller Peninnah Schram, cantors Alberto Mizrahi and Aaron Bensoussan, soprano Nell Snaidas, percussionist Rex Benincasa, playwright/lyricist Adina Ruskin and composer Noa Ain.

Edery is a prolific recording artist and has released over ten CDs on the Sefarad Records label.

Discography:

Chansons d’Amour (Sefarad Records, 1998)

Linda Amiga (Sefarad Records, 1999)

Morena (Sefarad Records, 1999)

The Minstrel and the Storyteller (1999)

Oigo (Sefarad Records, 2000)

Sing to the Eternal (2002)

Romanzas Sefarditas (2002)

Guitar Give Me Your Song (2002)

Amid the Jasmine (Sefarad Records 2007)

Two Faiths One Voice (2008)

Dai de Cenar (Sefarad Records 2009)

Shiru Hakadosh: Sephardic Liturgical Songs (2012)

Edery Sings Yupanqui (2012)

www.gerardedery.com

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Artist Profiles: Yasmin Levy

Yasmin Levy

Yasmin Levy revitalized the ancient art of Ladino singing, the Judeo-Spanish style whose songs reach back to 15th-century Spain. The Ladino singer was born Yasmin Levy in Bakaa, Jerusalem, Israel, on 23 December 1975. A ‘very small, beautiful neighborhood’, Bakaa is filled with narrow alleyways and warrens dating back many hundreds of years. The area is still a vital part of the history of this great city and, for Yasmin, her roots. She still lives in the flat to which her parents moved when they were first married. Family and roots are very important to Yasmin and juggling family and professional commitments made easier by the fact that her husband Ishay works and travels with her, playing darbuka in most of her shows and handling many of the logistical arrangements of touring. Whenever she has time off, she loves to return to Jerusalem and spend time with her mother, brothers, sister and their families.

Yasmin’s musical interests began as a child. At six years of age, she was taught to play piano and she continued with her studies until age eighteen. At twenty, she began singing seriously but it wasn’t until a year later that she made her first public performance as a guest in a concert given by her mother. Other local concerts followed but it wasn’t until world music showcase WOMEX 2002 that she made her international debut and embarked on a singing career.

 

Yasmin Levy

 

Her first album Romance And Yasmin focused on Ladino music and Turkish influences and was greatly influenced by the work of her late father Yitzhak Levy. He was born in Turkey in 1919 and, at the tender age of 3, moved with his family to Palestine. As a grown man he worked as both a composer and cantor.

After the creation of the state of Israel he was appointed head of the Ladino department at Israel’s national radio station. His life’s work was devoted to the collection and preservation of the songs of Sephardic Jews: these songs had been passed down orally from generation to generation over a period in excess of 500 years. During his lifetime he published 4 books containing Sephardic romances and another 10 volumes of liturgical songs. He also recorded many of these same songs for the national radio. Sadly, Yitzhak Levy passed away when Yasmin was little over one year old. Nevertheless she grew up knowing her father’s love for this music and his heritage as he had also taught her mother Kochava the Sephardic repertoire and she, in turn, passed the songs on to their daughter. When Yasmin was preparing her first disc Romance And Yasmin, she said she was ‘helped enormously by the books and recordings my father left behind‘.

The songs and arrangements on this first album came very naturally to the singer, based on what she had learned from home. She says: ‘The choice of songs was easy for me as they are all songs to which I have an emotional attachment’. For her second album, the highly acclaimed La Juderia, Yasmin continued her work with the Ladino tradition but began to experiment more with the flamenco influences that date back to her residence in Spain during 2002. In that year, she was awarded a scholarship by the Christina Herren Foundation to study flamenco in Seville. There she was influenced strongly by the unique singing style that she then added to her own Sephardic one.

Her much-anticipated third album Mano Suave (World Village/Harmonia Mundi) was released in October 2007 and marked a mature return to her Ladino roots. Recorded in London’s Livingston Studios in February 2007, it has Lucy Duran and Jerry Boys co-producing. Continuing Yasmin’s tradition of using the best musicians available, the new album features players from Iran, Armenia, Greece, Paraguay, Israel, Turkey and Spain. Mano Suave also features Natacha Atlas on the title track.

Yasmin’s deep, spiritual singing, passionate vocal delivery and striking good looks continue to entrance fans new and old. She has thrice been nominated for BBC Radio 3 World Music Awards and her appearance on BBC 2 TV’s Later’With Jools in November 2005 was one of the highlights of that particular series.

 

 

In March 2006, Yasmin was presented with the Anna Lindh Award for promoting cross-cultural dialogue, for her work with musicians covering three cultures and her connection with the history of Spain. The award reflects many of her hopes for the future. On a musical level, these have been distilled into the music and songs on Mano Suave. On a more global scale, she desires ‘that people will have more compassion towards each other and learn to live in harmony’.

 

 

Discography:

Romance & Yasmin (Connecting Cultures, 2004)
La Judería (Connecting Cultures, 2005)
Mano Suave (World Village, 2007)
Sentir (World Village, 2009)
Libertad (World Village 450023, 2012)
Tango (World Village 450026, 2014)
Rak Od Layla Echad (The Eighth Note, 2017)

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Istanbul Diversity

Light in Babylon – “Yeni Dunya” (indie release, 2016)

“Yeni Dunya” (new world) is the second album by a world music ensemble from Istanbul called Light in Babylon, who combine a wide-range of musical influences. On “Yeni Dunya” you’ll find original compositions inspired by Turkish and Sephardic music along with traditional Turkish folk music songs and reworking of John Lennon’s song “Imagine” that reappears with a fabulous Turkish beat as a bonus track.

The band is characterized by the spirited and charismatic vocals of Israeli (with Iranian roots) vocalist Michal Elia Kamal, the mesmerizing work of Turkish santur virtuoso Metehan Çifçi, Middle Eastern percussion, and the guitars of Frenchman Julien Demarque. These three artists are the composers of the original material and are supported by bass and drums.

The lineup on the album includes Michal Elia Kamal on vocals and darbuka; Julien Demarque on guitar, oud and vocals; Metehan Çifçi on santur and sansula (thumb piano); Jack Butler on bass; Stuart Dickson on percussion; and guest musician Ceyhun Kaya on clarinet.

Light in Babylon’s Yeni Dunya represents the diverse sounds of the Istanbul melting pot, with its fabulous mix of Middle Eastern musical traditions.

Buy Yeni Dunya in the Americas

Buy Yeni Dunya in Europe

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Fervent Ojos De Novia

Mor Karbasi Ojos De Novia (Alama Records Alama 005, 2016)

Mor Karbasi has one of the most beautiful voices in the world music scene. Her latest album is Ojos De Novia (Eyes of the Bride) where she continues her fascinating explorations of Andalusian, Sephardic and North African Berber music.

From her current base in Sevilla (Spain), Mor Karbasi is able to experience the legacy of ancient traditions left by Jewish, Moorish and Christian communities in Spain.

Mor Karbasi’s superb band complements her extraordinary voice. Led by her partner, multi-instrumentalist Joe Taylor, the musicians enable Mor Karbasi to cross musical boundaries, ranging from Berber, Sephardic and Medieval songs to flamenco, plus the added spice of modern music elements.

The lineup on Ojos De Novia includes Mor Karbasi on vocals; Joe Taylor on guitar, trumpet, saz and toy piano; Shimon Ifrah (leader of the Jerusalem Andalus Orchestra) on vocals; Cameroonian bass maestro Richard Bona; Kai Eckhardt on bass; and masterful flamenco guitarist Jose Israel Torres.

Ojos De Novia is beautifully crafted and captures the passionate heartfelt vocals of Mor Karbasi and her talented multinational world music band.

Purchase Ojos De Novia in the Americas

Purchase Ojos De Novia in Europe

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