Judy Frankel criss-crosses the country performing her repertory of treasured Sephardic songs, accompanying herself on guitar. As vocal soloist for the San Francisco Consort, a chamber ensemble dedicated to researching and performing Medieval and Renaissance music, she travelled to Jerusalem in search of "old" Jewish music. In Israel Ms.
Frankel did extensive research on the repetoire of the Spanish Jews, music which has survived for 500 years. These songs, which evolved from 15th century Spain, have been passed along in the oral tradition from generation to generation throughout the Spanish-Jewish Diaspora. Ms. Frankel studied at the Longy School of Music and Harvard University in Cambridge, the Berklee School of Music and Boston University, and with Dorio Dwyer of the Boston Symphony. She has had master classes with Music For Awhile of N.Y., Andrea von Ram of Basil, and Emma Kirkby and the Hilliard Ensemble of London. She has concertized with the Handel and Haydn Choral Society of Boston, UC Berkeley Collegium Musicum and the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. Ms. Frankel has sung with the Golden Goose Madrigal Quartet, and has been the vocal soloist for the St. Helena Ensemble and the San Francisco Consort.
She sings in 20 languages. Judy Frankel specializes in solo performances and lecture-concerts of music of the Jews in Hebrew, Yiddish and, chiefly, Judeo-Spanish.
Judy has made numerous radio and television appearances here and in Europe, and is featured in several films, videos and DVDs highlighting Sephardic culture.
Her recordings of songs in Judeo-Spanish are available as cassettes,
compact discs and in her songbook “Sephardic Songs in Judeo-Spanish”
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The music of the Sephardic Jews spans more than five centuries: from Medieval Spain to Morocco, the Ottoman Empire, and the Americas. The dual repertory include Judeo-Spanish usually sung by women, relating to daily life and the life cycle (birth, marriage, death).
Sepharad is mentioned in the Bible, the area we know as the Iberian Peninsula. The Sephardim are those Jews who came from that part of the world. Most spoke Castilian, one of the Spanish dialects of medieval Spain.
In 1492 the Jews were expelled from Spain. These Sephardic Jews were welcomed into Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, etc. Many others emigrated to Portugal, Morocco, Algeria and Northwestern Europe. Those who settled in the Ottoman Empire infused into that area a vibrant culture of Hispanic language, cuisine, poetry and music.
Since the 19th century, many Sephardim have moved on to Israel, South
America and the United States where they continue to speak Judeo-Spanish
and to transmit their songs orally. Secular songs are frequently
accompanied by guitar or oud, hand drums and tambourines, and sung at
weddings and other festivities.
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