Ah, Ladino song! There's nothing quite like that mix of Spanish romanticism and Jewish soul, tempered by the fires of history. The centuries-old repertoire of Ladino poetry tells tales of love, God, longing and much more, while retaining the influences of old Spain and the Ottoman Empire, where much of it was composed.
In Israel, Ladino (which survived the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 and thrived right up to the calamitous events of the 20th century) has almost disappeared from everyday use, but Ladino music is still quite popular. On Succot, audiences will have a chance to hear the country's top artists perform at the fourth annual FestiLadino on October 11 at 8:30 p.m. at the Rishon Lezion Cultural Center as part of the Rishon Lezion Wine Celebration.
FestiLadino features a song contest where 10 contestants vie for a total of NIS 15,000 in prizes. Their entries must be original, making it perhaps the only place in the world to hear so many new compositions in Ladino performed on stage.
Many of the songs incorporate modern instruments or other musical influences, most notably flamenco, which developed in Spain centuries after the expulsion and is not really part of the Ladino tradition. The contest, sponsored by several governmental and cultural organizations, is a labor of love by those dedicated to the revival and continuation of Judeo-Spanish as Ladino is often called.
For tickets, call (03) 948-4848. More information (in Hebrew) can be found at www.festiladino.org