Sarah Aroeste

Sarah Aroeste, inspired by her family's Sephardic roots in Macedonia and Greece, has spent the last two decades bringing her contemporary style of original and traditional Ladino music to audiences around the world. 

Aroeste writes and sings in Ladino, the Judeo-Spanish dialect that originated by Spanish Jews after their expulsion from Spain in 1492.  Those who left Spain, including Aroeste’s family, carried the medieval language with them to the various points where they later settled, primarily along the Mediterranean coast and North Africa. In time, Ladino came to absorb bits and pieces of languages all along the Mediterranean coast, including some Greek, Turkish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Hebrew, and more.

This exotic pan-Mediterranean language has, unfortunately, been fading away. But the continued musical legacy of Spanish Jews highlights the strength of an oral tradition that spans centuries and crosses many geographic boundaries.

American born and trained in classical opera at Westminster Choir College and Yale University, Aroeste became drawn to her Sephardic musical past after spending a summer in 1997 performing at the Israel Vocal Arts Institute in Tel Aviv.  There, she had the fortune of studying with Nico Castel, one of the world’s great Ladino singers and coaches at the Metropolitan Opera, with whom she learned she shared a similar Sephardic background.  Continuing to study with Castel upon her return to the US, Aroeste started incorporating classical Ladino songs into her opera repertoire. She quickly realized that Ladino, not opera, was her true musical passion and soon after made the leap to studying Ladino full time.

Since then, Aroeste has worked tirelessly to keep Ladino music alive for a new generation. Her style, whether with her original music or with interpreting Ladino folk repertoire, combines traditional Mediterranean Sephardic sounds with contemporary influences such as rock, pop, and jazz. One of few Ladino artists today who writes her own music, Aroeste has amassed a large and loyal following across the US and abroad, and has been featured in both national and international press.  To date, she has released seven recordings, A la Una: In the Beginning (2003), Puertas (2007), Gracia (2012), Ora de Despertar (2016), the first all-original Ladino children's album, Together/Endjuntos (2017), the first bilingual (Ladino/English) holiday album, Monastir (2021), and the all-Ladino Hanukkah CD, Hanuká (2021). She has performed in major music venues across the globe, and has collaborated with such notables as Frank London (The Klezmatics), Roberto Rodriguez, Tamir Muskat (Balkan Beat Box), and more. In 2008 Aroeste was a finalist in Israel’s prestigious “Festiladino” competition of original Ladino songs and performed her winning song with the Jerusalem Symphony. Currently, Aroeste works with renowned Israeli composer and producer Shai Bachar to stage the live, multi-media production of her Gracia project, which is an original Ladino, feminist, rock homage to 16th century Sephardic heroine, Dona Gracia Naci, as well as their many projects since. In September of 2014, an electronic version of their Gracia project won the Sephardic Prize at the International Jewish Music Festival in Amsterdam, and in June 2015 the Gracia project represented the USA at the International Sephardic Music Festival in Cordoba, Spain. In 2016, Aroeste's Ora de Despertar children's project won a coveted Parents' Choice Award, and in 2021 Aroeste's Monastir project won best Jewish Album of the year by media outlet Alma. Aroeste is now hard at work directing The Monastir Project, which brings Israeli and Macedonian musicians together to honor Monastir, a once thriving Sephardic Balkan community before WWII.  

In recent years, Aroeste has also spoken widely and published countless articles about ways to preserve Ladino, and is currently working on writing Sephardic-themed books for children. Her book, Buen Shabat, Shabbat Shalom was published March 2020 with Kar-Ben publishing and PJ Library. Her next book, Mazal Bueno, will be published by Kar-Ben in Spring 2023. 

With her unwavering commitment to Ladino cultural preservation, Sarah Aroeste has received notable attention over the years for her innovation in working to make Ladino more accessible and exciting to new and larger audiences. Bringing a fresh and inspiring modern sound, Sarah Aroeste and her contemporary Ladino style has helped to transform and revitalize a tradition.

Want to learn more about Sarah's background and inspirations? Read her Gracia Tumblr Blog here!


*Sarah Aroeste is available for a variety of program-styles. Please click here to learn about the options, or contact us for more information.

Shai Bachar- Musical Producer

Jerusalem-born Shai Bachar has worked with international artists as varied as Ishtar Alabina, Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Sheila Jordan and Dudu Fisher, and has produced a platinum-record for Israeli superstar Ronit Shachar, wrote the original music for the Israeli Academy of Film best documentary film, Souvenirs (2007), and has scored countless commercials, PBS specials, and movies both in the US and in Israel.

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