Five Ladino Songs  (2012) for solo violin - 9'

-written for Lara St. John

Program Listing

Five Ladino Songs (2012)

I. Quando Veyo Hija Hermosa

II. Durme Hermosa Donseya

III. Camini por Altas Torres

IV. Ven Hermosa

V. Tres Hermanicas Eran

Program Notes


I wrote “Five Ladino Songs” in 2012 for violinist Lara St. John. For some time I have been fascinated by the tradition of the Ladino people, a Jewish ethnic group originally rooted in Spain but scattered across Europe and into Central Asia over the centuries. The Ladino language is sometimes called “Judeo-Spanish,” but it includes influences from Hebrew, Arabic, Turkish, and various parts of Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean. And as language goes, so does music. The musical influences from this diaspora converge into incredibly beautiful melodic lines that at times sound like Medieval folk songs and other times like Byzantine chant.

These five short pieces are arrangements of a selection of these folksongs, using Isaac Levy’s Chant Judéo-Espagnols as a resource and various recordings. My goal was to explore the cultural intersections in this music while using the violin to convey traditional folk sounds on a classical instrument.

Today there are few speakers of Ladino left. It is a dying language that has suffered from dwindling populations of speakers and dialect assimilation. The music, fortunately, has become hugely popular in the past fifty years; a testament to its beauty and appeal to people from backgrounds as diverse as the tradition.



The second part of the afternoon was dedicated to simpler works. First, again solo: Five Ladino Songs by David Ludwig, miniatures of rare beauty in which St. John showed a more intimate side of her complex personality. –El Nuevo Herald, Miami