the project

The Sephardic Experience quadrilogy, is a priceless sound document in which the Renaissance Players present their own performance versions of well– and lesser–known romansas (ballads), kantigas (religious songs) and muwashshahat (poetical forms) which have survived for centuries entirely via oral/aural transmission by parents, grandparents, friends and acquaintances within the family circle, while working, or as a form of ad hoc entertainment in Sephardic communities of the West and East. Sadly, as the end of the 20th century draws near we are witnessing the alarming disappearance of Spanish–Jewish culture due to vast, worldwide changes in social circumstances. In fact, these songs are no longer a part of the rich, musical fabric of the everyday life of the Sephardim.

The opening refrain of track 1 on this fourth volume, Eggplants, declares that the following copla will describe seven recipes for stewing eggplants. The eggplant was a staple of Ottoman cuisine which was beloved by all, at every level of society from the Sultan and his slaves to the Muslims, Jews, Christians, and other inhabitants. There are many references in this volume to foodstuffs which were staples of the Ottoman Sephardic diet—eggplants, olive oil, rice, chicken, aromatics, rue, apple, lemon, milk, cinnamon, coffee and sherbets. In the menu of musical items, Macedonian dances, instrumentalized and sung kantigas and coplas, fragments of romansas and kantigas, and bodas tell of Sabbath food, tragic births in the royal palace, joyous, wicked, seductive, rejected and spiritual love, and mischievous, intoxicated, boisterous pre– and post–nuptial hijinks.

the artists

The Renaissance Players is the longest standing professional Early Music ensemble in Australia. Founded in 1967 by Winsome Evans, the ensemble is well–known for its varied and imaginative concert programs which are presented in costume and enlivened by poetry, mime, dance and processions. They perform a wide range of music dating from the 9th century through contemporary folk and classical styles, using replicas of, and/or ethnically, authentic instruments where possible and attempting to reproduce performance styles appropriate to whatever music is played. The Renaissance Players have a library of over 2,500 pieces, which have all been collected, arranged and/or composed by Winsome Evans.

Winsome Evans, Director of the Renaissance Players, is also the producer of this series. Aside from the performance and dance schedule of the Renaissance Players, Winsome teaches music at the University of Sydney and is one of Australia's busiest harpsichordists. She has mastered an additional 25 wind, string, percussion and keyboard instruments.

Members of The Renaissance Players performing on this recording include Winsome Evans, Benedict Hames, Llew Kiek, Mara Kiek, Melissa Irwin, Mina Kanaridis, Andrew Lambkin, Barbara Stackpool, and poetry reader Geoff Sirmai.

biography - winsome evans

biography - the renaissance players

discography - the renaissance players


1 Los guisados de la berenjena 5’32"
2 Dunula 4’34"
3 Potrculka 4’09"
4 La sclava pario un hijo 3’59"
5 Dolores tiene la reina 5’26"
6 Teškoto 3’24”
7 Si la mar era de leche 6’40"
8 Una matica de ruda 5’34"
9 Esta montaña d’enfrente 4’03”
10 Salgas madre 5’10"
11 Potrceno 3’05"
12 Poco le das la mi consuegra 8’35"
13 Ay, el novio no quiere dinero 4’58"
14 El mi querido 4’35”
  Total Time: 73'58"