Sephardic Cantigas Sephardic Concert & Flamenco

DEPARTMENT SPANISH & PORTUGUESE  UNIVERSITY NEW MEXICO

   February 23, 2018   at 11:00    The Robert Duncan Reading Room 

                                 Fernando Barros   Singer and composer

                                              Carlos Lomas   guitar & Oud

                                                      Davo Bryant Percussionist

                                                           Melissa Moore  NARRATION

LA DIASPORA MUSICAL  SEFARDI

Sephardic Heritage in Flamenco

To understand the influence of Sephardic music in flamenco we ought to begin with the musical contribution of the Jewish community to the territory of the kingdoms of the Iberian peninsula. The research of historians illuminates and provides clues to better  understand this stage of musical history.

Since music has always had a fundamental connection with religious rites, and because we have evidence of the existence of Jewish communities from the time of the Phoenicians (1000 BCE), we can say that a characteristic music was beginning to germinate with influences from the contemporary music that flourished and was played throughout the Iberian peninsula.

The Jewish communities that were expelled from their lands for religious reasons by Ferdinand and Isabella, “The Catholic Kings,” kept their rites, their customs, their Spanish language and, of course, their music. It is important to recognize what can be truly be called a labor of love: the cultural custodianship the Sephardic people carried out and continue to maintain alive and well and which, thanks to their perseverance, we may enjoy.

Sephardic music contains elements of Arabic and Christian music. It is Arabic in the rhythm and musical instruments, and it is Christian in the words in which this music was sung, the Spanish language.

The principal theme of Sephardic song is love, with the lullaby and the wedding song making important contributions. As we enjoy the Sephardic music that continues to be played in the Mediterranean we are afforded an acoustic glimpse of how this music sounded during the Middle Ages.

Among the musical flamenco styles can be found the “Petenera,” this style contains a rhythm composed like that of the “soleá.”

Through my research regarding the legacy that flamenco inherited from the Andalusí epoch (711-1492), I discovered a Sephardic song that the musicologist Christian Poché collected from a recording that was made in Cairo in 1910. This song shows quite clearly that the melody is very similar to the flamenco style called “Petenera.” Because one of the most well-known characteristics of flamenco is that of singing with a very demanding tonal arc, having to do with the important influence of the Romantic movement of the early nineteenth-century in the birth of flamenco, the flamenco Petenera has a very particular differentiation, due to the powerful stamp of the flamenco esthetic, that contrasts with the Sephardic song. 

Repertoire of the Concert:

*Sephardic Petenera

*Flamenco Petenera

*Durme, durme querido hijico (Sleep, Sleep dear child)

*Durme, durme mi alma doncella (Sleep, Sleep maiden of my soul)

*Tientos cañeros a Abenamer

*Bolero flamenco

*Alta, alta va la luna (High, high winds the moon)

*Tientos y tangos

*Transformative tangos Lorca-Leonard Cohen

*Medieval malagueña

*The Gypsy women dance with Cohen

SEPHARDIC SON

At one o’clock I was born,

at two they baptized me.

At three I had a soul, life and heart.

At four they married me,

I wed a Muslim girl.

Tell me, girl, where are you from,

I’d like to get to know you,

and if you don’t have any lovers,

you’re going to get a dressing down from me.

Anonymous

SEPHARDIC SON  High, High Winds the Moon

High, high winds the moon

when the light begins to dawn.

A lovely girl and luckless,

I never came into my own.

My eyes swelled up

with looking so long at the sea.

The mail-boats come and go

without a letter for me.

My sweetheart is as tall and empty

as a clothes-line

until my mother did the wash and

hung him up to dry.

Lyrics

Little stairs of gold, of gold and ivory

So the bride may mount to pledge

her vows

We’ve come to see

We’ve come to see

May they enjoy, accomplish much

and flourish

The bride has no money

May she have good fortune

We’ve come to see

We’ve come to see

May they enjoy, accomplish much

and flourish

Instrumental Arrangements: Carlos Lomas

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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