Four Ladino Songs (2012)
-Written for the Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia
Four Ladino Folk Songs (2012)
I. Durme durme mi alma donzella
II. Ven hermosa ven con mi
III. Camini por altas torres
IV. Cuando veo hija hermosa
Four Ladino Folk Songs was inspired by a work I wrote for Lara St. John of arrangements of Ladino songs for unaccompanied violin. I was so taken with these songs—with the richness of melodies and harmonies and wide range of emotional expression—that I decided to set four of them for unaccompanied choir. These songs are folk tunes arranged to compliment their texts; some with a gently rocking four-part texture, others with percussive sounds and effects that would be familiar to Ladino folk singers. The mood ranges from playful, to serene, from raucous to quiet despair, just as the original tunes do.
I owe a debt of gratitude to the seminal scholarship of Isaac Levy, who transcribed most of these songs in his four-volume “Chant Judéo-Espagnols;” a repository of this rich musical heritage from a dying language scattered across Europe, Africa, and Central Asia.