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Voices That Wander show poster

Voices That Wander at Clapton Round Chapel

Dates: (7/7/2024 )


Clapton Round Chapel

1 Glenarm Road, Lower Clapton, London, E5 0LY

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This July will mark the world premiere of Voices That Wander, a moving choral project of traditional songs in Ladino – the UNESCO endangered language of Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews who fled Spain during the Middle Ages.  This special performance will bring to life this beautiful language that spread to other parts of the world.  The performance will feature Songs We Carry, a collaborative project between Palestinian composer Saied Silbak and British Jewish composer Ana Silvera that celebrates the interconnectedness of Arabic and Jewish music.

Ladino originated in Spain and was carried to Israel, North Africa, Greece, Turkey and the Balkans throughout the Middle Ages by Jews who were expelled or fled persecution.  This fascinating historic language has long been used in music and is being spotlighted in this joyful evening of music and language.  Jewish composer Lydia Samuels has brought together traditional Ladino songs with four new compositions she has written, following extensive research.  Performing these pieces are The Wing-It Singers, led by Sally Davies, and soloists including Ashkenazi Jewish, Sephardi Jewish and non-Jewish singers.

Silback and Silvera will perform pieces from their project Songs We Carry, and an arrangement of the Arabic song Lamma Bada Yatathanna with The Wing-It Singers Choir.  Silback and Silvera’s work unites Jewish and Arabic songs, celebrating the similarities that tie these regions of the world together in music.  With similarities between Mizrahi and Sephardic music and Arabic music, the shared roots of Sephardic and Arabic diasporas can be clearly heard. 

The four new songs by Samuels incorporate four traditional life cycle songs: a love song, two wedding songs, and a lullaby.  As part of creating Voices That Wander, Samuels and Silback went to two London primary schools for Year 3 and 4 children, introducing them to Ladino, the culture of Mizrahi Jews and the expulsion from Spain, and linking that with present day displacement.  Together the workshop facilitators and the Year 3 and 4 children wrote songs inspired by their thoughts on these themes.  A medley of these songs will be performed by Samuels, the children, soloists and The Wing-It Singers Choir.

This touching and important project, which highlights the significance of connection and shared roots, is coming to Round Chapel in Clapton this July, and will return to London on 1st October 2024 at JW3.  Composer and facilitator Lydia Samuels comments, I’m thrilled to share the results of this exciting choral collaboration that has bought people together from a range of backgrounds and ages to explore traditional Ladino music.  There are now so few Ladino speakers across the Jewish diaspora that it has officially been classed as a UNESCO endangered language, so it’s been brilliant to get so many musicians singing in Ladino as part of this project.  The Jews that were expelled from Spain and Portugal carried their language and songs with them and kept their traditions thriving and developing for hundreds of years in the Middle East and North Africa.  It’s been amazing as a Jewish composer today to have the opportunity to reimagine, re-visit and explore these traditions in my own music.


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