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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.

As was the case in the middle ages for many types of traditional music, the lyrics of the Sephardic romansa, kantiga, muwashshah and zajal could be sung to a newly composed melody or to a pre–existing melody from either secular or liturgical repertoires. In traditional Sephardic singing one does not hear heavy and constant vibrato or long-held notes which are not decorated. Furthermore, there is a firmly blended fusion of Spanish–Arabic qualities both in the sound of the melodies and the way they are treated in performance.

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 in this series include: Winsome Evans, Benedict Hames, Nick Wales, Llew Kiek, Mara Kiek, Mina Kanaridis, Melissa Irwin, Belinda Montgomery, Andrew Lambkin, Barbara Stackpool, and poetry reader Geoff Sirmai.

biography - winsome evans

biography - the renaissance players

discography - the renaissance players

the series

The Sephardic Experience Volume One: Thorns of Fire (13166)
The Sephardic Experience Volume Two: Apples and Honey (13167)
The Sephardic Experience Volume Three: Gazelle and Flea (13168)
The Sephardic Experience Volume Four: Eggplants (13169)