Actually, I met Tina Chancey back in 1983, when she played viola da gamba with the Washington Bach Consort (a group that I sang in at the time). Who would have thought that all of these year’s later, we would be making music together again?
Tina is the “bowed string” musician in Trio Sefardi (along with Howard Bass and Susan Gaeta) — they are featured in this year’s Christmas Revels. While Trio Sefardi is a fairly new group, Tina also directs HESPERUS, the world-traveled early/traditional music ensemble dedicated to bringing the past alive through collaborations between early music and film, theater, dance and world music–sounds a bit like Revels doesn’t it?
So… what does Tina play? She plays early and traditional bowed strings from rebec, Pontic lyra and vielle to viola da gamba and Old Time and Irish fiddle. And, on these instruments she plays roots music from Sephardic and blues to early music and jazz standards.
In this year’s show, Tina is not only playing… she has also arranged “Ocho Kandelikas,” (written by Sephardic singer, Flory Jagoda) for our chorus and brass (and, it has audience participation too), and wrote the fabulous brass arrangement for our “Eggplant” song (this one, you really have to experience in person!).
It has been a real joy for us to collaborate with Tina again this year during the development of this wonderful show (she last appeared with the Washington Revels in 1999 as part of our “Celestial Fools” show), and it will be a joy for all of you to experience her musical arrangements and to hear her play.
Susan Gaeta is the vocalist/guitarist in Trio Sefardi, one of the two specialist music groups performing in this year’s Christmas Revels. Susan is an important member of a new generation of musicians who are exploring the rich and varied traditions of Sephardic music.
Originally from Connecticut, where her grandfather played clarinet in a Klezmer band and acted in Yiddish theater productions, Susan lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for eight years, where she performed classic jazz and traditional Argentine folk songs. After moving back to the United States, Susan continued her explorations in jazz, and has toured extensively with legendary Sephardic singer Flory Jagoda, a National Heritage Fellow.
She also sang with Colors of the Flame, a trio of musicians dedicated to preserving Sephardic songs. In 2002, Susan was selected to participate in The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities “Master-Apprentice” program. Her recording, From Her Nona’s Drawer, includes Susan’s interpretations of a dozen songs from the repertoire of Flory Jagoda.
In this year’s Christmas Revels, Susan will not only sing Sephardic music, but she will also be featured in several Spanish pieces, including the song that the Sevillanas is danced to, Algo se muere en el alma, cuando un amigo se va (or, “El adios”).
Howard plays lute and guitar and is part of Trio Sefardi–one of our specialist groups for this year’s Christmas Revels. Howard has studied guitar in Cleveland, Ohio, Washington, DC and Alicante, Spain! (he even played for the King and Queen of Spain at the Smithsonian Institute in 1976 and at the White House in 1978). Howard is not new to Sephardic music (although Trio Sefardi is actually a fairly new group); he was a founding member of La Rondinella, which has three recordings on the Dorian Discovery label, with a new retrospective recording just released this November — Sephardic Songs: An Anthology. For many years, Howard has also worked extensively with Sephardic singer/composer Flory Jagoda (whom he accompanied on her latest recording, Arvolika) and early music singer Barbara Hollinshead, with whom he recorded an album of Elizabethan lute songs and solos entitled Loves Lost… and Found; their new recording of 16th and 17th century French songs and lute solos will be released in early 2012.
In this year’s Christmas Revels, Howard will be playing both lute and guitar, and will be playing everything from Renaissance and Sephardic music to some Flamenco (for our Sevillanas dancers).
Tonight at 7:30pm, Trio Sefardi will be presenting a special concert at Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church. This will be Washington Revels’ second “salon-concert” presented in conjunction with the 2011 Christmas Revels show–offering a great opportunity to hear and interact with our guest musicians in a more intimate setting than Lisner Auditorium. Tickets are available online or at the door tonight.
Performers Howard Bass, Tina Chancey and Susan Gaeta share a love of and a wide-ranging experience with Sephardic music. Its members have performed and recorded with La Rondinella, the Western Wind, and with NEA National Heritage Fellowship awardee Flory Jagoda, the renowned Sephardic singer and composer, who will be joining them tonight in this very special performance.
Trio Sefardi combines a respect for tradition with a creative approach to arranging and scoring to bring the vibrant past into the living present. After making their Washington-area debut on the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage in November 2010, the trio is now releasing their first recording, Sefardic Celebration this month! In fact, if you attend tonight’s salon-concert, you will have an opportunity to purchase one of the first copies of this new CD (Hear audio excerpts from their new CD online).
Learn more about the performers in tonight’s concert:
Flory Jagoda (from the NEA National Heritage Fellowship Web site)
What is Sephardic Music?
Music of the Sephardic Jews, including traditional songs encompass ballads, romances and wedding songs that were passed on orally and sung originally in various Iberian languages (Castilian, Catalan, Galician, etc.), as well as Hebrew.
Who are the Sephardim (Sephardic Jews)?
Those Jews whose roots can be traced to the Iberian Peninsula where Jews first appeared in the early years following the Roman destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, and exile from the Holy Land. There are references to a Jewish presence in Iberia from the time of Solomon, when Jewish adventurers sailed the Mediterranean Sea. The first notated date is 79 AD. Spanish Jews in Iberia lived in relatively good times under Moorish rule during the 10th and 11th centuries when Islamic power was at its zenith. Jewish physicians, advisors, diplomats and financiers were important participants in the Islamic Courts in Spain. They were classed as politically neutral and used as arbitrators in all disputes between Muslims and Christians.
Information on Sephardic culture excerpted from Susan Gaeta’s Web site (www.susangaeta.com)
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