Performances in Ladino and Hebrew
What is Ladino?
In 1492 the Jews were expelled from Spain. They were forced to leave without their belongings, but they carried with them their heritage, their language (a dialect of Spanish called Ladino) and their love of music to their new homes. For centuries, the heartfelt and melodic music of the Sephardic Jews accompanied them all in the nations they settled, from North Africa to Balkans to Turkey, Greece, Italy and America to present-day in Israel. Those diverse influences are evidenced in their culture and music.
Wherever they settled- they established and lived in close-knit communities, maintaining their own customs and traditions. Music played a major part in their communal life and on special occasions- days of sorrow or joy- they sang the ballads handed down from generation to generation.
In time, variations of these songs were written, but to these romantic love ballads they brought from Spain- were added traditional Jewish feelings. Though the songs remained love songs- they also spoke of a different kind of love- love and longing for the holy land: Zion. These feelings so strongly influenced the songs that they became part of the religious heritage and are sung in prayers to this day.
Most Sephardic Jews in the United States trace their heritage back to the lands of the former Ottoman Empire. The Sephardic musical heritage is most noted for its rich body of " Romansas" ( ballads) " Cantigas" ( folk songs) and "Endechas"( laments) in Ladino, may of which go back to Medieval and Renaissance Spain and are found in variants throughout the Hispanic world. This vibrant Sephardic song culture has been passed down within communities throughout the Mediterranean, as well as in Israel and the Americas. While contemporary interpretations have tended to present it as "early music" , Sephardic music actually belongs to the Middle Eastern musical sphere. Much of it utilizes the system "magams" or modes, common to Turkish, Arabic, Greek, Persian and other Mediterranean and near Eastern music. The instruments traditionally used to accompany Ladino singing (from Turkey and the Balkan) are typical of Ottoman Turkish popular music at the turn of the century , and
include Oud , Kanun ,Tanbur , Djumbush, Dumbeg, Tambourine as well as other instruments.
Ofri Eliaz currently performs in Israel with various musicians and programs.
Two Programs are available, One of Ladino repertoire in Hebrew and Ladino, and the other of classic Israeli love songs.
The Ladino program includes well-known songs such as : Adio Kerida, Arvoles, La Serena, La vida do por el Raki and Kuando el rey Nimrod as well as songs that are less familiar like: Ya salio de la mar, Komo la roza and Djako.There are also Sephardic prayers in Hebrew such as Yigdal, Tzur Mishelo andHamavdil.
Ofri Eliaz sings and talks about the songs and their long journey from generation to generation.
It is possible to perform with a playback of the music or with musicians (usually guitarist and percussionist).Some of the shows include the flamenco dancer Meirav Reuven as well as the Sephardic story teller Matilda Koen Sarano.
This performance is about Hope and Love, Birth and Death, Weddings and Funerals, Poetry and Longing .
The Israeli program is of classic Israeli love songs such as: Ayelet Ahavim, Hair Beafor, Hachnisini Tachat Knafech, Kol Ma Shetirzi, 20 Year Love ( translated ) and others performed with a unique jazz flavor.
This performance is usually accompanied by keyboard player.