WASHINGTON, DC – The Greek Chamber Music Project (GCMP) announced on September 6 a powerful musical tour in memory of the Holocaust, honoring the Sephardic Jews of Greece and the broader Mediterranean. Titled Remembering the Jews of Greece: A Musical Journey, the program will appear in cities across the East Coast, from New Haven, CT to Washington, DC, November 4-10.
On November 8, 12 PM, a performance takes place at the Library of Congress, Mumford Room, 6th floor, Rm 649, James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Ave SE in Washington, DC, presented by General and International Collections Directorate and the Asian and Middle Eastern Division at the Library of Congress, and in cooperation with the The Judische Kulturbund Project. Reserve free tickets online at Eventbrite, search: Ladino Songs and the Sephardic Diaspora: A musical and linguistic journey.
The Sephardim have a deep history in Greece with musical traditions that have had lasting influences on the region. GCMP is pleased to feature singer Sarah Aroeste who sings in Ladino, the Judeo-Spanish language of the Sephardim. She keeps the language alive with unique interpretations of traditional Sephardic songs and her original compositions all sung in Ladino.
Aroeste is joined by her longtime pianist and producer Shai Bachar, as well as special guest Ellie Falaris Ganelin on flute. Together, they will present a program of songs old and new in a multimedia performance using sound clips, videos, and live music. The program will feature stories and video footage from Aroeste’s own family, as well as video testimony of a Greek Holocaust survivor, thanks to a collaboration with the Fortunoff Video Archive at Yale University.
Remembering the Jews of Greece is a one-of-a-kind program created to remember this dark moment in history in an effort to speak out against hate and to promote healing and acceptance in our communities.
A Note from Singer Sarah Aroeste:
“I always grew up with a strong sense of Sephardic pride, passed down to me from my family that ended up in the Ottoman Empire after their expulsion from Spain in the 15th century,” said Aroeste. “Although my ancestors who immigrated to America during the Balkan Wars quickly assimilated into American culture, they instilled in me a curiosity and love of my Greek heritage. When my grandparents passed away, we stumbled upon a black and white video of their honeymoon in the early 1930s visiting family in Salonika. The joy and love is visible throughout the silent film. Sadly, all in the video, except for my grandparents who were already living in America, perished in the Holocaust so soon after. The work I do in our family’s language of Ladino, or Judeo-Spanish, is all to pay tribute to my rich ancestry and to remember all those who came before me to celebrate Sephardic life. This tour will hopefully help expose more people to the story of the Greek Jews and how much they contributed to European and world culture once upon a time.”
Determined to help bring Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) culture to a new generation, Sarah Aroeste, an international Ladino singer/songwriter, author and cultural activist, draws upon her Sephardic family roots from Greece and North Macedonia (via Medieval Spain) to present original Ladino songs with her unique blend of rock, pop, and jazz. Since 2001, Aroeste has recorded five albums, A la Una: In the Beginning (2003), Puertas (2007), Gracia (2012), the first-ever all-original Ladino children’s album Ora de Despertar (2016), and the first bilingual Ladino/English holiday album Together/Endjuntos (2017). In 2017, Aroeste released Ora de Despertar (Timeto Wake Up!) a bilingual illustrated children’s book. In 2014, Aroeste won the Sephardic prize at the International Jewish Music Festival in Amsterdam, and in 2015 she represented the U.S. in the International Sephardic Music Festival in Cordoba, Spain.
NPR has featured Aroeste as one of the most boundary-pushing Latin artists today, and she has garnered wide critical acclaim for her efforts to introduce and bring Ladino to wider audiences. Bringing a fresh, modern vision to Sephardic culture, Sarah Aroeste has helped to transform and revitalize a tradition.
Ellie Falaris Ganelin is a flutist with an engaging stage presence and a unique array of influences. Classically trained, she is also versed in jazz, Latin, Brazilian music, indie, and experimental music. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she is active as a performer of chamber and orchestral music. She is committed to making classical music inviting and accessible for all as an ambassador and performer for the Awesome Orchestra Collective. Ellie is the founder of the Greek Chamber Music Project, a record label and presenter devoted to the music of Greek composers. She has brought her performances with GCMP to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as well as cultural centers and universities across the U.S. and Canada.
Jerusalem-born Shai Bachar has worked with international artists as varied as Ishtar Alabina, Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Sheila Jordan, and Dudu Fisher, and has produced a platinum record for Israeli superstar Ronit Shachar. He also wrote the original music for the Israeli Academy of Film best documentary film, Souvenirs (2007), and has scored countless commercials, PBS specials, and movies both in the U.S. and in Israel.
More information about the tour is available online: https://www.greekchambermusic.com/remembering-the-jews-of-greece/ and SarahAroeste.com