(photo credit: Courtesy)
The sea has always played a major part in singer Victoria Serruya’s life. Born
in Morocco, she made aliya with her family at the age of five.
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thing I can remember from the trip to Israel is the sea,” she says.
family settled in Acre, where the beach occupied much of Serruya’s early years
and, although she now lives in Motza near Jerusalem, the sea continues to make
its presence felt in her art.
On January 27 (8:30 p.m.) Serruya will
front the On Both Sides of the Ocean concert at Jerusalem’s Confederation House,
with a program of music that feeds off the rhythms and energies of Portugal and
“They are both Portuguese-speaking countries with the Atlantic
Ocean between them, which both separates and joins them together,” she explains
adding, however, that there are also some important differences between the two
“There are different colors there, and Brazil comprises three
races, the Portuguese, Indians and the Africans. For me Portugal has a
grand past, of many discoveries, while Brazil is a place of freedom and
independence. Those are some of the things I would like to convey at the
Serruya has been working long and hard on the current
“I don’t do anything by halves,” she declares.
it’s all or nothing.” That total approach also involved getting her
pronunciation spot on.
“I took two teachers to help me with my accent in
Portuguese. It was a bit more difficult with the Brazilian accent but I think
I’ve got it down pretty well now.”
The texts for the new show – some of
which come from poems by iconic Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa – were,
naturally, chosen with great care although they were not the primary driving
“The texts were the most important thing for the Turkish project I
did for the Israel Festival [in 2002]. That was a tribute to [twentieth century
Turkish poet] Nazim Hikmat. But this time I started from the music and then
gravitated towards the texts.”
Two of the musicians from the Abidin Ensemble with which Serruya performed at the Israel Festival, double bass player
Ehud Erlich and percussionist Oren Fried, will be on the stage at Confederation
House next week, and they will be joined by guitarist Udi Horev and mandolin
player Yaki Reuven.
THE MAIN musical component of the On Both Sides of
the Ocean concert is the darkly bluesy fado genre of Portugal, with some added
brighter coloring from Brazil. Serruya worked for several years as a theater
actress before eventually returning to the stage as a singer, for the Nazim
“I hadn’t been on the stage for 15 years before the
Israeli Festival,” Serruya recalls, “and I was petrified.” Some of her
theatrical upbringing will, no doubt, come through at the new show.
took a while for Serruya to get into fado.
“I’d heard some in the past
but I really started delving into it seriously two years ago. Fado expresses
longing and solitude, like looking out over the sea to the horizon, from
somewhere like Portugal. I like that. I like being alone and doing things my
Serruya’s way also involves finding the pieces she needs to make up
the eventual picture she wants.
“I choose colors, like with a painter’s
palette. I pick the songs I want then check to see what colors I am
In a way, On Both Sides of the Ocean is a sort of homecoming
“I think I know Portugal and its culture from my childhood
in Morocco. There is something very familiar about it all. Brazil is
about sun and lots of characters and aromas. Portugal is very different. There
is something in me that connects with that.”For more information: (02)
624-5206 or www.Confederation house.org