After 9 years in New York City, the Sephardic Music Festival comes to Los Angeles this March. The L.A. events will further the Festival’s reputation for cutting-edge presentations of the best in contemporary Sephardic music from across the globe. The term “Sephardic” refers to the Jewish cultures that originated in Spain, North Africa, the eastern Mediterranean, and the Middle East, as distinct from the more familiar Jewish cultures of eastern and central Europe.
The Festival’s preview event in L.A. during Chanukah, on December 3rd, at Voila!, has already been featured on Ovation TV (watch here). The festival itself will place between March 2nd and March 8th 2014. Founded by American-Israeli producer Diwon, the Sephardic Music Festival (SMF) is the first Jewish music festival to focus exclusively on Sephardic music and culture and showcase the latest Mizrahi, Yemenite, and Ladino artists from around the world. The festival offers a platform for performers of traditional Sephardic folk music and innovators who fuse traditional Sephardic rhythms, melodies, and motifs with modern musical styles. With an incredible range of artists this year, the Sephardic Music Festival presents a colorful tapestry of music and culture as rich, vibrant, and diverse as the Jewish world itself.
March 2nd 2014: Sephardic World Arts Day opens the LA Sephardic Music Festival with world food, music and free, hands-on, interactive activities for all ages. Later that night will find Yemen Blues at the Luckman Theater for the official opening event of the festival. Yemen Blues coexist in both the past and the present; they are timeless and modern. Fronted by acclaimed vocalist Ravid Kahalani, the group mixes the music of Yemen and West Africa with funk, mambo, soul, and ancient chanting styles. Conjuring up a rich and diverse musical palette with the use of percussion, oud, horns, and strings, their myriad influences carry over to the stage, where the ensemble navigates from the boisterous to the romantic and from joyous celebration to anguished balladry.
March 5th 2014: The festival collaborates with UCLA on its 3rd annual ucLADINO symposium. This year’s theme is Judeo-Spanish revitalization efforts in all spheres and domains, with particular focus toward the 21st century. Renowned scholars, graduate students, professors and community activists from a variety of disciplines will present research and discuss programming efforts in Judeo-Spanish speaking communities across the globe.
That same evening there will be an intimate performance by international Ladino singer Sarah Aroeste, who travels the globe fusing both original and 15th-century Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) folk songs with her signature blend of rock, pop, and psychedelia. Along with music collaborator Shai Bachar and a world-class ensemble of musicians, Aroeste comes to UCLA with her new multi-media Gracia project—a mix of experimental, feminist, rock-beat, retro-chic, Mediterranean-infused original Ladino songs— and will perform some of her signature pieces off her most recent album, including Enusenyo Te Vi and Gracia. One of few artists today who writes her own music in Ladino, Aroeste draws upon her family roots from Spain and Greece and works tirelessly to bring Ladino music back to life for a new generation.
March 6th 2014: ucLADINO continues on the UCLA campus with a special concert to be announced.
March 8th 2014: The closing night of the festival will feature Asaf Avidan and Automatic Toys at the Luckman Theater. Automatic Toys was formed by Israeli artists Nachum Peterseil and Yasha Gruzman and will perform a set of unique renditions of their favorite Hebrew tunes. Singer-songwriter Asaf Avidan has taken the international music community by storm with his unique brand of folk and blues and his signature vocal sound, reminiscent of jazz greats and rock legends alike. Following the release of his debut solo album The Reckoning and its subsequent catapult to gold certification, Avidan has garnered numerous accolades from around the world.
Tickets and further information are available at http://www.sephardicmusicfestival. com/events