The Wall Street Journal published a feature on the 8th annual Sephardic Music Festival with interviews and photos, so be sure to pick up your copy in the weekend section. You could also read the article online at online.wsj.com
Bringing Out Sephardic Music’s New Voices
Festival Celebrates the Jewish Community’s Many Artistic Influences on the Scene, Including Sounds From Africa (By TAD HENDRICKSON)
Here is a taste “…Bringing an eclectic and divergent new voice to a cultural conversation once dominated by the Eastern European Ashkenazi, the Sephardic Music Festival has shined a light on this community and its traditions for the past eight years with a phalanx of artists from across the city and throughout the diaspora.
Erez Safar, also known as DJ Diwon and the founder of the Sephardic Music Festival.
“My family on my mom’s side is from Yemen, so I grew up listening to Mizrahi and Yemenite music,” said Erez Safar, who founded the Sephardic Music Festival in 2005. “At the same time, I really wasn’t hearing any Sephardic music at the Knitting Factory or Tzadik, or whatever. I had started DJing at the time and I would just throw stuff in. Then I figured I should do an event to try and turn people onto it and see what happens.”
Coinciding with Hanukkah, Mr. Safar’s festival will open its eighth edition on Saturday at the Knitting Factory and continue through Dec. 13 in various venues around town, from Williamsburg to the Upper West Side. The events range from a Sephardic-themed story slam (similar to a poetry slam) on Sunday at Lolita Bar, to a free discussion and performance at the Sephardic Scholar Series, hosted by CUNY’s Graduate Center on Monday. On Tuesday, there is an acoustic performance uptown at the Congregation Shearith Israel.
While the term Sephardi once referred specifically to Spanish and Portuguese Jews (Ladinos) exiled from Spain in 1492, it has grown to encompass the entire Mediterranean rim, including North Africa and the Middle East, covering Mizrahi, Yemenite and Ladino traditions and customs. Similarly, Mr. Safar’s programming reaches across the region, and further. This year’s festival, for example, will highlight the Sephardic music connection to Africa.”
A version of this article appeared December 7, 2012, on page A25 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Bringing Out Sephardic Music’s New Voices.