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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.

This collection of Spanish-Jewish songs and Med-terranean dance tunes in this second volume, Apples and Honey, are named for the joyful celebrations of Rosh Ha-Shanah, the head of the year. The texts of the muwashshah and kantigas evoke images of the sea and the river (powerful forces for the Sephardim in their post–expulsion Mediterranean settlements) and water. These are, in their turn, connected with exile, the siren, the moon, and various marriage customs. Various procedures related to Arabic and Balkan music are followed here: improvised instrumental taksim-like preludes, interludes between stanzas, repetition of the solo singer's line by a chorus of voices and/or instruments, lively, celebratory ululation by chorus singers, a variety of chest- and head-voice timbres, constant ornamentation of melodic lines, measured and unmeasured metres, and simple and complex additive rhythms. Likewise, a wide variety of arrangement is demonstrated.

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

tracklist

1 Haralambis 3’40"
2 La sirena 4’20"
3 En la mar ay una torre 6’16"
4 Cunja mija 4’26"
5 Siete anos 5’33"
6 Bandary 2’03”
7 Morenica sos 4’19"
8 Por la tu puerta 5’42"
9 Yo Hanino 2’33”
10 Para beri 2’38"
11 La novia entre flores 3’55"
12 Kopanitsa oro 2’57"
13 Have you heard, my friends? 4’04"
14 Durme, durme mi angelico 4’21”
  Total Time: 56'52"