The three-concert series will explore the rich musical traditions of the Sephardic Jewish community, which frequently gathered from midnight to dawn for life-cycle celebrations, rituals, prayer, and study. The performances will also demonstrate how these traditions continue to evolve in the context of contemporary culture in Europe, Israel, and the United States.
The first performance, “Ghetto Beats: Jewish Musical Nightlife, from Italy to New York,” will take place on December 5. “Ghetto Beats” pairs the repertoire of late-Renaissance and baroque music from Italy with the contemporary resurgence of Sephardic Jewish music in New York City. The Renaissance Jewish repertoire will be performed by the male choir of Congregation Shearith Israel, directed by Leon Hyman. Following will be an after-party with DJ Handler, mixing contemporary beats based on the Sephardic musical heritage.
Pharaoh’s Daughter, a musical ensemble based in New York City, will perform at the second part in the series, “Piyyut Renaissance: Middle Eastern Jewish Music Come to America” on January 17, 2008. Female vocalist Basya Schechter will infuse Hebrew piyyutim, liturgical poems traditionally performed by men, with New World musical nuances and a redefined gender perspective.
The third performance, “Mimouna (or Eating Bread Again),” on April 29 will spotlight Sultana’s Ensemble, a band featuring Yoel Ben-Simhon, drawing on Arabo-Andalusian Moroccan music celebrating the end of Passover. Their music immerses tradition in the cross-cultural currents of contemporary urban life.
The series is supported by the New York State Music Fund, established by the New York State Attorney General at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.