first image: photo: José Solano

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About Soprano meets Bass

 

All of the songs on this album  originate in medieval Spain’s Jewish communities to the best of our knowledge, though some continue to live as children’s songs and in the flamenco tradition. Melodies and lyrics in Ladino and Spanish were  collected by ethnomusicologists in the first half of the 20th Century throughout the (now former) Ottoman Empire in North Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Europe. These melodies and lyrics were obtained by the artists, Alan Lewine (bass) and Ana María Ruimonte (voice) and set in their original arrangements utilizing a mix of jazz, flamenco, classical, and Mideastern musical motifs.

 

 

This duo, with guest artists, performs recombinant world music with a wide range of influences. “You’ve never heard anything like this before!”

 

SOPRANO MEETS BASS offers a program of Sephardic Treasures, in Spanish and Ladino, selected from the Sephardic Romancero, collections of mostly secular songs originating in 12th to 15th-century Spain. During the 20th-century these songs were transcribed by ethnomusicologists from the women’s oral tradition in Sephardic communities around the Mediterranean from Portugal to Palestine, Morocco to Mosul.

 

SOPRANO MEETS BASS incorporates elements from medieval Moorish Iberia, classical bel canto, jazz, flamenco, and Israeli/Arabic music in their original interpretations of these songs originating in Jewish medieval Spain. It’s been compared to Pentangle meeting with Charles Mingus and Paco de Lucía at the opera.

 

SOPRANO MEETS BASS features the singing of the renowned Spanish soprano Ana María Ruimonte, with the arrangements of American bassist and music director Alan Lewine in collaboration with Ana María.

 

This Ansonica release was recorded in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Philadelphia, and in Madrid, Spain, Kfar Tavor in Israel, and mixed and mastered under the direction of Alan Lewine in South Philadelphia by multi-Grammy® winner Mike Tarsia. Sephardic Treasures features a cast of renowned stars of Spanish flamenco and classical music, American jazz, and Israeli flute, shofar, and percussion.

 

Variations on this program have already been presented around the world, including in Spain at the Sephardic History Museum Palacio de Los Olvidados in Granada, the 11th-century Teatro Auditorio El Pósito in Sigüenza, the Auditorio Nacional in Madrid; in Cuba at the Sinagoga Centro Hebreo Sefaradí and the fabulous Sala Lecuona of the Gran Teatro de La Habana; in the United States at the National Opera Center in New York, in various venues in the Philadelphia area, Ithaca College Conservatory in New York, the New England School of Music in Rochester, and in Baltimore, Tucson, Ft. Collins, and at festivals in Virginia and Maryland; at the Instituto Cervantes and Felicja Blumental Center in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem’s Blue Music Hall in Israel; and in Belgium and Holland.

 

A Little History

This is a story that resonates today in this time of so many refugees and heroic women. The ancient communities of Spanish Jews (Sephardim) were expelled from Spain by the Royal Order of Expulsion in 1492 and resettled throughout the world, particularly in the Ottoman territories around the Mediterranean Sea, where remnants of their cultural and musical traditions survived. In the 20th-century, Sephardic Jews continued to migrate in search of peace and security, particularly to Israel, Spain, France, Canada, Latin America and the United States. After long efforts of reconciliation, in 2015 Spain approved a law granting Spanish Citizenship to Sephardic Jews who could show their Spanish origin.

 

Matter of the Songs

The tradition has been maintained mainly by women, passed from mother to daughter. Most of the Sephardic romances offer a realistic portrait of intimate life in medieval Spain. The songs and stories reflect Jewish, and indeed universal, principles and moral values, pervaded by a powerful sense of justice.

 

 

 

 

 

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Real music by real people.  Established in 2016, Ansonica Records is a boutique label presenting finely crafted contemporary music from across the globe.

 

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