The festival will continue SMF’s cutting-edge reputation for presenting the best in contemporary Sephardic Jewish music from across the globe.
The word Sephardic is derived from the Hebrew word for "Spanish," and generally refers to Jews descended from those who lived in the Iberian Peninsula until they were expelled during the Spanish Inquisition at the end of the 15th Century. They fled to countries such as, Turkey, Balkans, Southern France, Italy, Greece, and Bulgaria.
The term also includes Jews from Arab countries, such as Algeria, Yemen, Egypt, Iraq and Morocco.
Founded by American-Israeli producer Diwon, the SMF is the only Jewish music festival in the United States to focus exclusively on Sephardic music and culture and showcase the latest Mizrahi, Yemenite, and Ladino artists from around the world.
The festival offers a platform for performers of traditional Sephardic folk music and innovators who fuse traditional Sephardic rhythms, melodies, and motifs with modern musical styles.
With an incredible range of artists this year, the Sephardic Music Festival presents a colorful tapestry of music and culture as rich, vibrant, and diverse as the Jewish world itself.
Some highlights of the festival include:
Sephardic World Arts Day opens up the LA Sephardic Music Festival with food from around the world, music and free, hands-on, interactive activities for all ages.
Later that night, Yemen Blues will perform at the Luckman Theater for the opening night of the festival. Yemen Blues coexists in both the past and the present; they are timeless and modern.
Fronted by acclaimed vocalist Ravid Kahalani, the group mixes the music of Yemen and West Africa with funk, mambo, soul, and ancient chanting styles. Conjuring up a rich and diverse musical palette with the use of percussion, oud, horns, and strings, their myriad influences carry over to the stage, where the ensemble navigates from the boisterous to the romantic and from joyous celebration to anguished balladry.
The festival will be collaborating with UCLA on its third annual ucLADINO symposium. This year's theme is Judeo-Spanish revitalization efforts in all spheres and domains, with particular focus on the 21st century.
Renowned scholars, graduate students, professors and community activists from a variety of disciplines will present research and discuss programming efforts in Judeo-Spanish speaking communities across the globe.
Later that night will be an intimate performance by International Ladino singer Sarah Aroeste, who travels the globe fusing both original and 15th-century Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) folk songs with her signature blend of rock, pop, and psychedelia. Along with music collaborator Shai Bachar and a world-class ensemble of musicians, Aroeste comes to UCLA with her new multi-media Gracia project – a mix of experimental, feminist, rock-beat, retro-chic, Mediterranean-infused original Ladino songs.
One of few artists today who writes her own music in Ladino, Aroeste draws upon her family roots in Spain and Greece and works tirelessly to bring Ladino music back to life for a new generation. Bringing a fresh and inspiring modern sound to Sephardic music, Sarah Aroeste’s Ladino “Rock” style has helped to transform and revitalize a tradition.
ucLADINO continues on the UCLA campus with a special concert to be announced.
The closing night of the festival will feature Asaf Avidan at the Luckman Theater.
Singer-songwriter Avidan has taken the international music community by storm with his unique brand of folk and blues and his signature vocal sound, reminiscent of jazz greats and rock legends alike.
Following the release of his debut solo album, "The Reckoning," and its subsequent catapult to gold certification, Avidan has garnered numerous accolades from around the world.